JNN 25 Dec 2012 Jakarta : The Shia Community in East Java, Indonesia, has been subject to extreme measures of displacement and starvation by local authorities. At least 190 displaced Shi’a followers in East Java, including 69 women and 61 children, are at risk after local government authorities halted supplies of food and water to the community, citing a lack of funds.
Indonesian authorities cut off food and water supplies to displaced Shi’a community in East Java.
The Shi’a community, from Karang Gayam village in the Sampang district on Madura island, were displaced in August 2012 when an anti-Shi’a mob of around 500 people attacked the community with sharp weapons and stones. One person was killed and dozens were injured. The mob also set fire to thirty-five houses belonging to the Shi’a community. Four people have since been charged for the attack.
Following the attack, the community was moved to temporary shelter at a sports complex in Sampang – with minimal facilities – where they have been living for the last three months. No medicine or facilities specifically for children or women have been provided. On 18 November, the local authorities cut off water supply to the complex and on 22 November they halted food supplies. The displaced community have been forced to use their limited funds to purchase food and water.
According to credible sources, some of the Shi’a followers at the complex have been intimidated and harassed by local government officials who have urged them to convert to Sunni Islam if they want to return to their homes. Local and national authorities continue to put pressure on the community to relocate but they have rejected this option, preferring to return to their homes and livelihoods under conditions of safety. A group of volunteers have been assisting them with their daily needs and providing counselling, particularly to women and children.
The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM) has established a channel in which funds can be delivered to those in need of support in Indonesia and calls on everyone to donate what little they can in support of their oppressed Shia brethren in Indonesia.
In an interview with us on Sunday, Dian Wirengjurit noted that Jakarta has no problem with Indonesian Shias and respects them as part of the nation.
Referring to attacks against the Shia community in Indonesia’s Madura Island in recent months, the envoy noted that disputes between Muslim groups in the region are simply rooted in tribal and ethnic differences and should not be interpreted as discrimination against Shia minority in Indonesia.
Shia Muslims have recently become common targets for violence and discrimination in Indonesia.
On August 26, hundreds of people armed with sickles and swords hacked a Shia man to death and torched more than 30 houses in the town of Sampang in the East Java Province, forcing villagers to seek refuge at a nearby sports hall.
In late last December, Shias in Nangkernang were attacked by Wahhabi extremists who set fire to hundreds of homes and a Shia school, forcing 500 people to flee their villages, according to Human Rights Watch.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation of 240 million people, is hailed as a bastion of moderate Islam, but rights groups say religious intolerance is on the rise amid concerns that too little is being done to address it.
Although Indonesia’s constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion, rights groups argue that the country has become less tolerant over the past decade and the government is turning a blind eye to the problem.
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