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Sect Families Facing Island Exile Ungrateful for Rejecting Aid Offer, Indonesian Official Says
Fitri | November 14, 2010
Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Ahmadiyah families in danger of being evicted to a remote island have been criticized for opposing the move and an offer to buy assets they were forced to abandon in a previous eviction.
The West Lombok administration plans to buy the assets left behind by the families when they were forced to move out of Gegerung village in 2006, after other villagers attacked them.
District spokesman Ispan Junaidi said on Saturday that Rp 710 million ($80,000) had been set aside to buy the houses and furniture of the families.
“We are trying to help them,” he said. “They have not responded positively to our offer. We feel they are trying to make it difficult for us to find a solution that will resolve this matter once and for all.”
Twenty-two families from the minority Muslim sect have been living in the Transito evacuee shelter in Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara, since the 2006 eviction. They have made frequent requests to village and district leaders to be allowed to return to Gegerung.
But last month, the head of West Lombok said they were moving the Ahmadiyah families to a remote island, a decision many have called discriminatory and inhumane.
“We are trying to protect Ahmadiyah members,” district head Zaini Arony said.
He said he had discussed the situation with religious figures and it had been agreed the families would be sent to Teluk Sepi Island. He defended the decision by saying the local administration feared a repeat of the violence in February 2006, when thousands of Muslims burned down the families’ homes.
Ispan said there was no possibility of the families returning to Gegerung because the villagers were adamant they would not let them live among them.
“We have offered to pay Rp 710 million for their assets,” he said. “Instead, the families are now asking for Rp 1.5 billion. They do not seem to want to sell us their assets.” He added that only two of the homes had proper documentation so that their value could be assessed.
“So it is difficult for us to increase our offer above Rp 710 million,” Ispan said. “We believe some of the leaders of the Ahmadiyah in West Nusa Tenggara don’t want to help themselves or their followers. They reject whatever solutions we offer. Our offer is to buy their assets and relocate them to Sepi Island.”
Jauzi Djafar, a spokesman for the provincial chapter of Jemaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia, said the West Lombok administration had never sat down with them to discuss the offer.
“How are we supposed to evaluate the offer when they have never called us to sit down and discuss this offer with them?” he said. “What assets are they specifically referring to is not clear to us.”
He said the most important concern of the families was their safety and security.
“We want our people to return home to their own backyards,” he said.
“People should be made aware of the law, so that differences are not used as a reason to attack Ahmadis. No one has talked to us, whether about buying our assets or moving us to Sepi Island.”
Ispan has said at least 20 families will be moved to the island next year. “There’s enough land on Teluk Sepi for them to farm,” he said. “It’s better than letting them get attacked or killed. It’s the humane thing to do.”
He had previously acknowledged that the families had not been consulted about the plan.