Indonesian East Java’s Shia Community Continues to be Denied Food and Water

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Asia
Saturday, 08 December 2012

jawa indinesiaEast Java’s Shia community continues to be denied food and water and faces continual persecution following the East Java Indonesian Council of Ulema division’s announcement declaring the Shia a deviant and heretic sect.

The Jakarta Globe newspaper and other local sources have claimed that two people were killed, dozens injured and hundreds have been forcefully displaced in the targeted attacks on the Shia residing in the Karang Gayam village in the Sampang district.

Followers of various Muslim schools of thought have historically coexisted in peace and harmony in Indonesia. However, in recent years and in particular the last few months there has been a surge of sectarianism, in particular against old and new communities of Muslims following the Jafari school of thought, also known as Shias.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) has never declared the Shia sect deviant and heretical. Furthemore, the Shia school of thought was endorsed by over 500 leading scholars in the ‘Three Points of the Amman Message’ including the Chairman of Muhammadiyah, the President of Al-Shafi’i Islamic University, and the Minister of Religious Affairs from the Republic of Indonesia.

In 2007, the East Java division of MUI issued a religious decree against Shias which has led to their persecution and mass displacement.

In August 2012, following an attack by around 500 people on residents of the Karang Gayam village in the Sampang District, one person was killed, dozens injured, and the community of some 175 members was moved to temporary shelter at the Wijaya Kusuma Sports Center in Sampang.

The local authorities have halted both food and water supplies and no medicine or facilities for women and children have been provided since 22 November 2012. Thereafter, the local Kyais (Islamic experts) gave the Shia community comprised of many women and children, an ultimatum to either ‘convert’ to Sunni Islam or face the consequence of having their homes set ablaze and being denied the right to return to their villages. A 15 year old, Muhaimin Hamama, was killed in Sampang on 25 August 2012 following threats of murder from Kyais backed by local government officials. Under this pressure, the Surabaya office of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported that 26 Shias from 9 families were forced to sign an agreement to convert to Sunni Islam on 1 November 2012.

A small group left their refuge in Sampang to meet with members of the House of Representatives’ commission on religion, social and other issues asking for help with their plight. They claim they were rudely dismissed with insults. One woman Umi Kulsum, was detained by the East java High Court for blasphemy and is still imprisoned, called on the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to address their plight and pressure the Indonesian government to comply with universal human rights standards. On visiting the victims of religious persecution in Indonesia, Navanethem Pillay expressed her distress ‘to hear accounts of violence, attacks, forced disappearances and other discrimination and harassment, as well as the police’s failure to provide protection’.

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