Summary: Ahmadiyah Again Find Themselves in Mob’s Sights
Ulma Haryanto & Vento Saudale
A mob attack last Friday on an Ahmadiyah community in Bogor’s Cisalada village has rattled the beleaguered group as it tries to recover from a similar, more violent, incident from two years ago.
“It was about 1 p.m. when we heard people shouting outside and telling use to get out of the house,” Holisah, 32, a mother of two, recalled of last week’s incident.
She hurried to get to her children; just moments later, rocks began raining down on her house, shattering the windows and the tiles on the roof.
“We hid under the table and screamed for help, but when the mob broke down the door to get in, we ran outside through the kitchen door and hid in a ditch,” Holisah says.
Her home had been repaired a year ago after being burned and looted by a mob of 200 people, mostly from the neighboring villages of Kebon Kopi and Pasar Selasa, in an attack in October 2010.
Several homes, a school and a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyah community of around 600 were targeted in that earlier attack, and it took the community more than a year to rebuild without any help from the government.
Most of the 2010 attackers were minors and given suspended sentences. By contrast, an Ahmadi man who stabbed one of them in self-defense was given a nine-month jail sentence.
“I don’t know what was wrong [this time],” Holisah said. “We just want to live in peace and quiet, with no more conflicts.”
She sent her children to stay with their grandparents in another village.
“Both of them are traumatized, they don’t want to come back. My husband also asked us to move to Jakarta,” she said.
Witnesses have identified some of the attackers from Friday as having taken part in the attack two years earlier. One of them is Rahmat from Kebon Kopi village.
“We don’t want [the Ahmadis] to live here because they are infidels,” he said, adding that he would continue to oppose the sect that mainstream Muslims deem deviant “until they leave the area.”
Blame the press
Bogor Police have blamed the latest attack on the arrival in Cisalada on four foreigners, including two journalists.
“One of the journalists was recording the
non-Ahmadi people, and this upset [the villagers] because the foreigners
did not ask for their permission,” Bogor Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr.
Hery Santoso said.
Not long after Friday prayers, people from surrounding villages descended on Cisalada and began hurling rocks at the homes of the Ahmadis.
“We were at the mosque, it was quite far [from the village entrance],” said Michel Maas, an Indonesia correspondent for Dutch broadcaster NOS and newspaper De Volkskrant there to shoot a documentary.
“We saw people running, and then the police officer who was with us ordered us to get into the car and said we had to go.”
Maas and his team were whisked away to the Bogor Police station where they underwent eight hours of questioning.
“We already followed the procedures, we have the right papers,” Maas said, adding that as soon as he arrived his team had reported to the local authorities, including the police, military and the local administration. “[But] we were the only ones who were brought to the police station, I didn’t see [police] arrest the perpetrators,” he added.
The team headed to Jakarta after their release, but had to report back to the immigration office on Monday to verify their documents.
“The media are blaming the foreign journalists, but nobody talks about the perpetrators who came with stones and sticks and damaged property, or about the people who provoked them not being arrested. This is very strange,” Maas said.
The local authorities also used the journalists’ visit to urge local Ahmadiyah leader Mubarik Ahmad to write an apology for the violence.
“The district police and military chiefs told me what I had to write, that it was my fault for not reporting the foreign journalists,” Mubarik said on Sunday.
“Based on their instructions I also wrote that we will never allow reporters to enter the village without permission from the subdistrict head.”
Isolate the victims
Prior to writing the statement on Saturday, Mubarik asked to consult the regional office of the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI), but was refused.
“I have no experience in writing such things. I was not allowed to consult with anyone because the subdistrict head said they were short on time and wanted to settle the matter as soon as possible,” he said.
Lawyers from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), which represents JAI nationwide, said they had been denied access to the village since Friday.
“Police and military personnel posted around the village did ID checks and most vehicles with Jakarta plates were turned away,” Muhammad Isnur from LBH Jakarta said on Monday.
He was also concerned that with the intimidation, the Cisalada Ahmadis would now be reluctant to seek outside help.
“They have ceased communication with us, while we can’t force our help on them if they don’t ask for it,” he said.
Firdaus Mubarik, a national JAI spokesman, said he believed the authorities had deliberately tried to cut off all outside access to Cisalada by preventing journalists from going in.
“Now if a reporter shows up, the surrounding villages can use it as a reason to attack,” he said.
Eko Maryadi, chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), urged media companies to denounce the move.
“Besides violating the Press Freedom Law, this means that local authorities are trying to stop news of the persecution of the Ahmadiyah from getting out,” he said.
Silence the minorities
Ismail Hasani, from the Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy, said local authorities were becoming more creative in finding ways to persecute Ahmadis.
“The prohibitions against the Ahmadi community have now spread to their supporters,” he said.
According to a report by the institute published earlier this month, there were 12 attacks against the minority sect between January and June 2012, compared to 114 last year.