SBY Placates Mbah Priok Descendants With Personal Pledge to Protect Tomb

By webadmin on 12:01 am Apr 17, 2010
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Ulma Haryanto & Camelia Pasandaran

Two descendants of Mbah Priok met on Friday with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who gave them his word that the 18th-century cleric’s grave would be protected as a cultural heritage.

Habib Ali Zaenal bin Abdurrahman Al Idrus and Habib Salim bin Umar Al Attas met the president at the Baiturrahim Mosque at the presidential palace after Friday prayers.

“The president asked all parties to remain open to discussion to reach an agreement,” presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said.

“The new agreement should be accepted by all parties and no parties should suffer losses.”

The meeting came two days after the deadly clash over what locals believed to be attempts to demolish Mbah Priok’s tomb in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta.

Habib Ali said that during the meeting that lasted about 10 minutes, the president agreed to sign an inscription on the tomb stating that the grave was a protected part of the country’s cultural heritage.

“Thank God the president will sign it, and he asked all parties to remain calm,” Habib said. “The president advised people not to get carried away with the issue.”

Only the 20-square-meter mausoleum housing the tomb will be protected, however.

The disputed 54,000 square meters of land on which it sits will still be the subject of discussion, though the North Jakarta District Court ruled in 2002 that port operator PT Pelindo II held the rights to it.

During a mediation on Thursday between the family and Pelindo, it was decided that the rest of the structures in the tomb complex — the gate to it and a 300-square-meter pavilion that houses an Islamic boarding school — would be demolished.

In another meeting on Friday mediated by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the executive director of Pelindo, Richard Jose Lino, said the company had offered to renovate the mausoleum and rebuild the pavilion and the gateway along with the earlier promise to build an underground tunnel for pilgrims wishing to visit the tomb.

A special commission, which would include city administration officials and representatives of Komnas HAM and Islamic organizations, would also have to approve of the plan for the renovation.

Deputy Governor Prijanto said previously that Pelindo had already paid the family Rp 2.5 billion (US$277,500) and given them 5,000 square meters of the land, but a dispute has arisen over who should get this.

According to Yan Djuanda, the legal representative for Habib Ali and his family, his clients — Mbah Priok’s direct descendants — are the ones who guard the grave.

“Habib Muhammad and his wife Ibu Umi have been living inside the tomb’s complex and they also built an Islamic boarding school there,” he said.

“They are Habib Ali’s parents.”

Yan added that Habib Ali himself also lived around Priok.

But during the meeting on Friday with Komnas HAM, six people claiming to be Mbah Priok’s heirs showed up.

Yan refused to elaborate on the conflict among the heirs, saying “it’s complicated”.

“Let’s have the tomb project completed first, then we can have the discussion on which heirs should receive compensation,” he said.