SIDOARJO, Indonesia – The Indonesian national commission for women (Komnas Perempuan) has reported that there are 332 Shia refugees in Sampang who are left unattended. They are sheltered in Puspa Agro Flat, Sidoarjo, East Java.
Indonesian Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Riri Hariroh said in a statement that it has been 4 years that the Shia Muslim refugees feel like strangers in their own land. Riri added that on their visit to the shelter, they noticed that the refugees are living in extremely poor conditions. A total of 14 Shiite children in the refugee do not go the school and 11 students could not go to the primary school level.
The commission then urged the government to fulfill the refugees’ economic, social, and cultural rights. Riri said that the government need to map out the (existing) problems, in order to find resolutions.
“The government needs to secure their rights of religion,” she said.
The refugees have lived in the shelter since August 2012. They were relocated to the shelter after fellow locals in Sampang, Madura, attacked them over differences in belief system.
“Only one bathroom is used for more than two families. Women and children feel very uncomfortable” she concluded.
As quoted from sejuk.org, children in refuge are in poor conditions, fourteen of children in the refuge can not go to school. Eleven students also cannot proceed to the primary level.
Rohah, 26 years old, refugee said that: To obtain a proper education, some children grades 4, 5 and 6 move to SD Jemundo 1, although at first the children had to suffer mockery and ridicule because of their language and difference in belief ( Shiite Islam) from majority of the pupils at the school.
Rohah also wished, if not expelled from Sampang, their children could go to school in his hometown together with normal children without any discrimination.
Due to the limitations of educational services the parents have to buy boards and markers, write letters of the alphabet and the numbers on the walls of the room to teach their children.
“Refugees are very worried about being jobless. They are also prohibited from meeting relatives in person in Karang Gayam, Omben, Sampang. Refugees are also threatened and banned to go to their villages” said another refugee namely Duriyah.
With such words, Umm Kulthum (40), wife of the leader of the Shiite community in Sampang, demanded the central government to return the refugees to their homes.
“We want to return. The government should give the rights, we have electronic identity cards, family cards (KK), Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and so on” She said as she complained that Sampang government has promised to fulfill the economic, social, and cultural rights of Shia refugees but it has not happened till now.
In fact, Umm Kulthum revealed some refugees have already paid around 3 million, but nothing has changed till now.
After visiting the Jemundo, Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan Riri Hariroh stressed that his agency will encourage the government to immediately fulfill those rights (ESC) and services for Sampang Shiites. National Commission for Women in particular will be coordinating with the Office of the President staff (KSP) to settle the case.
“It has been 4 years since Sampang Shia community became refugees in their own country. Therefore, the government must have a clear road map for solving obstacles to Sampang Shiites and religious freedom” said Riri.
In August 2012, more than 1,000 Sunni villagers attacked Nangkernang village in Sampang regency on Madura Island and burned down Shia houses, hacking one Shia resident to death, wounding another, and displacing more than 500. The mob told the Shia villagers that they could only return home if they first converted to Sunni Islam. The group was moved to Sampang stadium. On June 20, 2013, the leader of the Shia group was coerced by local officials and threatened by a crowd of thousands of militant Sunnis into agreeing that the Shia should move to a town two hours away on the island of Java.
On June 19, 2013, police and local government officials in Sampang regency on Madura Island summoned Iklil al Milal, the leader of the Nangkernang Shia community, to the Sampang police station. They ordered him to sign a prepared letter asking the government to “relocate” the Shia community from their temporary shelter in the Sampang indoor stadium. He refused to sign, and instead bargained with the authorities to give the villagers time to move from the stadium themselves while providing compensation for the loss of their houses, lands, and tobacco, as well as rice fields in their village.
At the time, the Indonesian Ulama Council and the Council of Ulama Brotherhood in Madura (Badan Silaturrahmi Ulama se-Madura) were preparing to hold an istighosah, or a mass prayer, at the Sampang square on June 20, to declare that Sampang should be purified from so-called “blasphemous Shias” and to demand that the government remove the Shia from the stadium. High ranking officials, including the national parliament speaker Marzuki Alie, Coordinating Minister on Politics and Security Djoko Suyanto, and Governor Soekarwo of East Java, where the village is located, had agreed to the relocation plan but also agreed to provide security for the displaced Shia in the stadium. Two police posts were set up in the stadium. Barbed wire was set up outside to deter attacks.
On June 20, 2013, more than 8,000 Sunni Muslims joined the mass prayer in the main square of Sampang. Ali Karrar, the head of a Salafist madrassa in Sampang, gave the opening speech, calling Shia blasphemers and demanding that the government remove them from Madura Island. After listening to seven other speakers, the crowd marched to the stadium. Ali Karrar and several other Sunni clerics entered the stadium, while about 700 police officers stood guard to keep out thousands of other protesters.
Local government officials then compelled Iklil al Milal, the Shia leader, to sign the document agreeing to the relocation. He signed it, and the government ordered the Shia displaced villagers into awaiting buses and trucks. Iklil collapsed shortly thereafter and required hospitalization. The Shia villagers were driven to an apartment building that the East Java government had prepared in Sidoarjo, three hours away, on the island of Java.
Discrimination against the Shia is based in part on a decree issued in July 2012, by Governor Soekarwo, to impose penalties on anyone who “… propagates blasphemous teachings” as defined by the Indonesian Ulama Council. The Ulama Council in East Java had declared Shiite Islam “blasphemous” in an edict issued in January 2012. The decree is based on the 1965 blasphemy law, which provides a five-year jail term for violating the act.
The East Java decree had previously been used against Tajul Muluk, a Shia community leader and the younger brother of Iklil al Milal. Tajul was convicted of blasphemy in July 2012, and sentenced to two years in prison, increased to four years after he appealed. He is currently in prison in Sampang.
On February 14, 2012, the Sampang regent, Noer Tjahja, made a speech near Nangkernang village and said that there were “21 children still studying in that blasphemous madrassa,” referring to the Shia school. He added that were he not the regent, he would fight against the Shia himself.