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Ahmadis Recount Morning of Terror
Nivell Rayda & Ulin Yusron | February 07, 2011
Bebi, 45, is one of the survivors of the Cikeusik attack that saw three people killed. He sustained severe injuries to his head and body. Other Ahmadiyah members say they’re lucky to have escaped alive. (JG Photo/Nivell Rayda)
Ahmad Masihudi has bruises on his right jaw, a swollen eye and cuts all over his body, but he considers himself a lucky man. A resident of Parung, West Java, Ahmad said he was grateful “just to be alive” after a lynch mob of over 1,500 people attacked members of the Ahmadiyah community in the Cikeusik village of Pandeglang on Sunday.
Ahmad said he was one of about 18 members of the Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect, who went to Cikeusik to protest the detention of local Ahmadiyah cleric Ismail Suparman by Pandeglang Police. But a bloody clash ensued which left three Ahmadis dead and five badly injured. Ten other Ahmadis managed to escape.
Those killed were identified as Roni and Warsono from Jakarta and Chandra from Parung.
“I ran with all my might when the mob came in the thousands. We were clearly outnumbered. It was an outright attack,” 25-year-old Ahmad said.
“I ran to a nearby rice field. We all agreed to scatter in a bid to give some of us a chance at surviving the ordeal. I remember several people chasing me. I was hit in the back with bamboo a stick. I stumbled to the ground.”
Ahmad said he was saved by the fact that he had Rp 1 million ($110) in cash on him.
“They let me go just like that [after finding the money]. But that didn’t stop the others from trying to beat me up. I saw a police officer. I immediately held on to him and wouldn’t let go as the mob tried to pull me and continued to hit me,” Ahmad said.
“The other officers soon came and I was dragged to a police truck.” Ahmad was indeed one of the lucky ones.
One of the injured, Deden Sujana, remains in a coma with extensive injuries to his head and body. The 45-year-old was in critical condition and has been rushed to Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta. Deden’s right arm suffered a blow from a machete and was nearly severed.
In an emergency meeting convened by the central government over the attack, National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said on Sunday night that police on Thursday had been informed about Ahmadiyah members in Cikeusik being involved in “activities,” which locals deemed “unacceptable” and were preparing to take action.
“The FKUB [Interreligious Communication Forum of Banten] anticipated problems and took [Ahmadiyah cleric] Ismail Suparman to local police for his own safety on Saturday,” Timur said.
“But suddenly, on Sunday at around 7 a.m., a group of 15 Ahmadis, led by a man named Deden, who claimed to be from the Ahmadiyah central headquarters, arrived at Ismail’s empty home, saying that the house belonged to the Ahmadiyah community and they would guard it in case of any attack,” Timur said.
“We [the police] arrived and asked them to leave. They refused. At the same time, some 1,500 villagers came. This is when the incident occurred.”
Another resident of Parung, Ferdiaz, said he had been one of the Ahmadiyah members who had occupied Ismail’s house.
He confirmed that police had attempted to get them to leave the house for their own safety.
Ferdiaz told police they would not vacate and reminded officers that it was their job to protect them from harm. But soon afterwards, the mob started pelting the house with rocks and several people even drew machetes. Police did little but watch the show, Ferdiaz said.
“In the end, I ran, but a man slashed me with a machete in my back. They hit me with rocks and sticks. I was lucky police officers managed to stop them.”
In Jakarta, about 50 people gathered in front of the State Palace to protest against the violence. Yudhi Latief from the Reform Institute said police must protect all citizens. “Nobody should be killed just because they have different faiths,” he said.
Additional reporting by Farouk Arnaz