Muslim Minority in East Flores Intimidated
Other complaints concerned the fact that many Muslim students in the area did not receive any Islamic instructions, whether in private or in public schools. They were also not given the opportunity to perform Friday prayers, whereas they were obliged to participate in all Roman Catholic celebrations. The school management refused to employ Muslim teachers sent by the Ministry of Education and Culture and many Islamic religious teachers from the Ministry of Religious Affairs had been re-assigned without any official explanation.
The local Muslims also reported that the Roman Catholics had defecated on the mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca) of a mosque in the village of Wulanggitang; burnt eight houses belonging to Muslims in 1990 arguing that the houses were ramshackle and noisy; poured battery acid onto two Muslim children, killing one; stabbed a Muslim teenager; and even dubbed the military district commander and his staff, who were Muslims, as “the Islamic army because they had donated money for the reconstruction of the demolished mosque. They had received no response to their reports of all these incidents from the local authorities. Apprised of the situation, the Jakarta-based Humpuss business group, owned by Hutomo Mandala Putra Soeharto, a son of the Indonesian president, had offered funds for the construction of a mosque for the local Muslim community. Muhammad Zulkarnaen added that he himself had been subjected to threats of murder and extortion. (MD, March 1994; PM, 11-20 April 1994)
Muslim Minority in Tana Toraja Attacked by Christians
The magazine Media Dakwah reported that the Muslim minority in the village of Dandang Desa Buangin, Sabang District, Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi, had twice been attacked by Christians. The first attack was launched before dawn by about 2000 people when the local Muslim community was preparing salvir (the last meal before a day of fasting) in the month of Ramadan (end February/beginning of March 1994).
The local Muslims compared the Dandang tragedy with the butchering of Muslims by communists in Madiun (1948) and in Kanigoro (1965), two towns located in East Java. They saw a parallel between it and the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia. The magazine did not reveal the reasons for the attacks.
After the ‘Id al-fitr, the disputing parties held a meeting and agreed to re-establish peace. Not long afterwards, however, this agreement was broken by Christians who attacked Muslims in Tonangka, a village near Dandang, and expelled the native villagers. This brutal act inspired Muslim students of the Universitas Muslimin Indonesia in Ujungpandang to bring the case to the provincial council of people’s representatives and to stage a demonstration to demand the authorities to investigate the aggression. (MD, May 1994)
Muslims Intimidated in Peniwen
The Muslim minority in the predominantly Christian village of Peniwen, Malang, East Java, reportedly suffered obstruction and intimidation from the local authorities and Christian leaders. A Muslim couple was hindered to marrying in the Islamic way in Peniwen, while other couples, who had concluded an Islamic marriage elsewhere, were banned from entering the village unless they were to remarry according to the Christian rite.
Media Dakwah Responds Logos
The Islamic monthly magazine Media Dakwah in its edition of September 1994 responded to the July 1994 edition of the Roman Catholic magazine Logos, which was distributed on the occasion of a scientific meeting held by the Ikatan Sarjana Katolik (ISKA) in Bandung, West Java, on 25 and 26 July 1994. Logos is published by the ISKA.
The magazine also criticized an article entitled “Menghindari Sentimen Primordial dan Diskriminasi” (Avoiding Primordial Sentiments and Discrimination) written by Dr. Krishnanda Wijaya Mukti, MSc, an official at the Department for Guidance of the Buddhist Community of Jakarta’s Office for Religious Affairs. It considered his analysis misleading. In his article, Mukti spoke about religious majorities and minorities. Referring to Zen philosophy, he compared the majority to a big wave and the minority to a small one. The big wave, he argued, was too strong rendering the small one miserable and powerless because it does not know that actually the two waves are the same, namely water.
Responding to this analysis, Media Dakwah emphasized that it was an indisputable fact that majority of the Indonesian population is Muslim. Throughout Indonesian history, it went on, this majority had never made religious minority groups miserable, or vice versa. The magazine reminded its readers that the Muslims in Indonesia are renowned for being very tolerant towards other communities. It added that even at the global level, Muslim tolerance had been recognized by Arnold Toynbee. (MD, Sep. 1994)
Muslim Leaders Upset by Government List of Mass Organizations
A number of Muslim leaders were upset by the announcement of a list of mass organizations in the country by the Director-General of Social and Political Affairs of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Soetoyo N.K., on 6 August 1994.
Sahar called upon the government to offer clarifications, reclassify, and do additional research. He said that a great deal of information on Muslim organizations had not yet reached the directorate-general. Al-Hassan also questioned the inclusion of several Christian organizations which were of only local or regional importance. According to a government decision, he argued, a mass organization should have branches in at least 14 provinces in order to be recognized as a national organizations. Small church organizations should be registered with the local administration. Imagine if the co-ordinator of mosques throughout the country listed each mosque as a national mass organization, he added. On the other hand, he warned the government not to take action against all Islamic organizations not yet listed. Speaking at the same subject, K.H. Zainuddin M.Z. said that what counted was the quality of the Muslim organizations, not their number. Adding his support, the chairman of the Jakarta branch of the NU, Drs. H. Achmad Suaidy, urged the co-ordinators of the Muslim organizations to register with the Ministry of Home Affairs as soon as possible. (PE, 8 Aug. 1994)
ISKA and PIKI Worried about National Seminar on Human Resources Being Haunted by Jakarta Charter
Four days later, the idea was conveyed to President Soeharto when a delegation of representatives of various associations of intellectuals met him in the Presidential Office. The ISKA also disagreed with the plan that Habibie should accompany the President at the opening ceremony of the seminar. The ISKA argued that this function should be fulfilled by Yogic S. Memet, the Minister of Home Affairs, who is officially in charge of the development of mass organizations in the country, not Habibie, who, besides his function of state minister of research and technology, is chairman of the ICMI.
The PIKI apparently followed in the footsteps of the ISKA. It threatened to with-draw from the seminar too if a pledge were to be issued, especially one containing the above-mentioned phrase. Cornelius Ronowidjojo, the Secretary-General of the PIKI, claimed that the phrase was reminisent of the one used in the “Piagam Jakarta”, the Jakarta Charter, which was drawn up as a common statement of national principles during the preparation of the Indonesian constitution of 1945, but was finally dropped after vehement discussions between groups with different conceptions on the place of the Islamic religion within the state.
The phrase of the Jakarta Charter which aroused particular opposition from the “secular” nationalists and the Christians contained the so-called “seven words”, “dengan kewajiban menjalankan Syari’at Islam bagi pemeluk-pemeluknya” (with the obligation for adherents of Islam to practise Islamic Shariah). The PIKI also wanted to change the phrase “Tuhan Yang Maha Esa” (One God) in the official declaration of the seminar into “Tuhan Yang Maha Kuasa” (God Almighty). Peter Sumbung, the chairman of the PIKI, said that the phrase “menurut agamanya masing-masing” could be misused by those who still wanted to introduce the Piagam Jakarta. Ronowidjojo accused the ICMI of hiding political objectives behind the phrase.Referring to the personages who would accompany President Soeharto at the opening of the seminar, Drs. H. Lukman Harun, a member of the team which had formulated the proposed statement, explained that Yogie S. Memet was indisposed. He added that the team agreed to change the word of “pledge” (afar) to “joint statement” (pernyataan bersama). He expressed his astonishment about what he called the far-fetched and fabricated interpreta¬tion of the statement by the PIKI. Why should the ICMI want to dig up old sentiments? Neither the KCBI and nor the FHCI had questioned the phraseology, he noted. He said that the fiery stance of the PIKI called to mind the congress of different religious communities in 1967, at which both Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians had refused to sign a statement which banned making members of existing religious communities the object of propagation of another religion.
Dr. Sri Bintang Pamungkasof the PPP commented that Christian circles would refuse anything which reeked of Arabic, which was the case with the word ‘ikrar’ (from Arabic iqrar). He added that he had been reminding people for a long time not to give priority to co-operation with other intellectual organizations such as the PIKI. It would be more useful to co-operate with non-governmental organizations or foundations which touched the people directly. The attitude of the PIKI moved Lukman Harun to observe that the harmonious relations between the different religious communities in Indonesia apparently had been no more than a false rumour. “They are growing more and more arrogant,” said another member of the ICMI, quoted by the magazine Media Dakwah. (MD, Sep. 1994)
Muslim Youth Request Amelioration of Rights in East Timor
On 18 October 1995, 18 Muslim youth originally from East Timor, living in the Jabotabek (Jakarta Bogor Tangerang Bekasi) stated their position, as read by the General Chairman of the Formattim (Forum Muallaf Asal Timor-Timur, Forum of Recent Converts of East Timor), Abdel Malik K.A. Soares. His audience consisted of the Jamaah Majlis Taklim se-Jakarta and the organizing committee of the second Istiqlal Festival in the Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta. In the statement, the Government was asked to place civil servants in the area who are capable of taking care of all strata of the East Timorese society and who have a national outlook. They also expected the Government to abolish the three-pillar system in East Timor. Those three pillars are: the church as policy-maker (highest authority), the regional government/bureaucracy (intermediate level), and the Armed Forces.
The Formattim claims that the three-pillar system is not in accordance with the democratic system of the Pancasila for it reflects the Portuguese system which confers all power to the Roman Catholic Church. As such, this system applied in East Timor is unconstitutional. Furthermore, they also appealed to the Government to immediately reconstruct public facilities (e.g. market places, mosques, schools, offices, administrative residences) which had been destroyed during the uprisings. Muslim youth from East Timor are currently being educated in various Islamic educational institutions such as the IAIN in Jakarta, the Universitas Muhammadiyah, the Universitas Ibnu Khaldun in Bogor, and the Institute for Islamic Sciences and Arabic (LIPIA). (RE, 19 Oct. 1995)On 23 October 1995, nine students who called themselves the Anti-Oppression Solidarity Group (SAP), welcomed approximately 2,000 East Timorese youth who were candidates for positions in civil service, as they disembarked from the Pelni vessel “Dobonsolo” in the Tanjung Perak harbour in Surabaya. They deplored the common anti-outsider sentiment of the East Timorese which had caused the unrest. They even went as far as to consider Bishop Belo partially responsible for the overflow of anti-Islamic feelings in East Timor. At the same time, about 50 East Timorese students, currently residing in Java, responded to the SAP action with threats. Security officials managed to separate the two groups and removed the SAP group away from the harbour. Meanwhile, the East Timorese students continued by ordering the group of civil servant candidates to return to Dili, saying they had been humiliated. (GA, 4 Nov. 1995)
Mosque Restoration in East Timor
The open letter was sent to, among others, the Minister of Defence and Security, the Commander of the Armed Forces, the Home Secretary, and the Minister of Religious Affairs. Furthermore, a number of ulamas of the Ittihadul Muballighin pressed the DPR to ensure that the Central Government would revoke the Governor’s decree for national unity. They viewed the decree as detrimental to continued development of religion and the Muslim community in this, the youngest province. On 7 November 1995 Hasan Basri met with the Vice President, Try Sutrisno, in the Jakarta state palace. He voiced his objections to the decree. The Home Secretary, Yogic S. Memet, ordered the East Timorese Governor to retract the decree. (HT, 9 Nov.; JP, 2, 9 Nov.; KO, 10 Nov.; PE, 31 Oct.; 1, 2 Nov.; RE, I, 2, 11 Nov. 1995)Apparently not only the Muslim community protested against the decree; Protestants did the same. The Secretary General of the PIKI (Persatuan Inteligensia Kristen Indonesia, Unity of Indonesian Christian Intellectuals), Cornelius D. Ronowidjojo, said that the decree which contained the word paroki (parish) in relation to matters of construction, had already politicized religion for certain objectives. As a civil servant, Governor Abilio ought not to have made such a regulation, he said. (PE, 4 Nov. 1995) The Chairman of the PPP faction of the DPRD of East Timor, Ilion Lap Sinjak, said that the decision was made without clear and valid procedures.
A number of involved parties such as the head of the Regional Directorate of Social Political Affairs, the head of the Regional Office for the Guidance of the Islamic Community, as well as local religious figures, had never been invited to study the decree. The concept was very one-sided and had a negative impact on other religions. Sinjak also mentioned the decree as proof of a misunderstanding of Governor Abilio about act no. 5/1974, which regulates the rights of the central and regional governments. The act clearly mentions that matters pertaining to defence and security, religion, monetary affairs, and education, are the domains of the Central Government.Furthermore, it is said that the Governor has to understand this matter and cannot, at will, make decrees, let alone decrees that cause conflict. (RE, 2 Nov. 1995)
After digesting all the criticism, Governor Abilio, in Viqueque (200 Km SE of Dili) finally stressed that the decree could not possibly be retracted but could only be modified. He also considered it rightful that a permit for a construction religious edifices had to be completed by a recommendation of the Roman Catholic priests of a given paroki because the great majority of East Timorese are Roman Catholics. Apart from that, Abilio objected to the statement of the MUI that the decree limited construction of religious buildings in East Timor. He explained that until now, no request has entered his office for the rehabilitation of religious places destroyed as a result of the riots of last September. (JP, 10 Nov.; RE 11 Nov. 1995)
Apart from the Minister of Religious Affairs, the signing ceremony was attended by the nuncio of Indonesia, Monseigneur Pietro Sambi, the head of the Regional Military Command of the Armed Forces (Udayana), Major General A. Rivai, the Governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares, Bishop Belo, Dr Din Syamsuddin (MUI), Prof. Dr Sularso Sopater (PGI), Mgr. Dr A.B. Sinaga OFM Cap (KWI), Drs Made Sudiarta (PHDI), Drs Teja S.M. Rasjid (WALUBI), and four directors of community guidance of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, notably a Muslim, a Roman Catholic, a Protestant, and a Hindu Buddhist. All attendants optimistically welcomed the formation of the forum. (JP, KO, RE, 25 Oct. 1995; GA, 4 Nov.; MD, Nov.; UM, 13 Nov. t995)
The establishment of the FKKPA was an initiative of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and formulated a recommendation of the Tim Komnas-HAM (Team of the National Commission for Human Rights) which had conducted an investigation on 21 September 1995, where three types of serious human rights offenses in East Timor were encountered: arson, torture, and expulsion. The team concluded that the latter is a grave violation of human rights.The Secretary General of the Komnas-HAM, Dr Baharuddin Lopa, proposed the establishment of a cooperation platform for local religious leaders. In fact, a platform similar to the FKKPA, had been created in 1994; however, it was unable to prevent the numerous riots which occurred in East Timor. (MD, Nov. 1995)
Dialogue on Religious Pluralism
He said the East Timorese actually do not understand Indonesia in its greatness, complexity, and pluralism because of their relatively recent integration. If their wishes are not fulfilled, the East Timorese immediately assume discrimination, he said. He claimed that the riots in East Timor do indeed contain an element of grave human rights violations and that it just so happened that its victims were Muslim. Therefore, he suggested that the Government quickly deal with every form of human rights violations irrespective of the religious affiliation of the perpetrators. (WP, 9 Oct. 1995)
Sources: INIS Newsletter XII 1996, XIII 1997, XIV 1997, XV 1998