Paras Indonesia, October, 31 2005 @ 12:53 am
Three Heads Of The Schoolgirls: Sacrificial For Whom?
Everyone condemned the beheadings of the three schoolgirls in Poso, Central
Sulawesi. The difference is the statements that follow the condemnations. President
Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) in denouncing the murders said the act of terror
was related to the excess of the horizontal conflict a few years ago. He said even
though the condition in Poso has improved, "there are always groups that continue to
want maintain the hostility and conflict". SBY's condemnation however, was not only
irresponsible, but also boomerangs to the people of Poso.
The president's statement was irresponsible because once again the government
blamed the Poso conflict among religions as the source of violence, while closing his
eyes on the clash between local political elites, political economical interests and
vast corruption in Poso. The last element was actually officially reported by the
Parliament's Special Committee on the Poso Conflict in a Parliament session on June
28, 2005. The committee stated that: "Corruption is the cause of the disturbances and
violence in Poso, and it is also closely related to the acts of terror that happened after
the Malino agreement".
Furthermore, the committee recommended that in order to bring peace to Poso, the
government must tackle first the issue of corruption.
The President's statement has certainly discredited the efforts made by the people of
Poso. The community has realized that there are greater interest powers at work,
using religious issues to stir up conflict. Members of the Poso (and also Palu)
community joined hands, facilitated by NGOs, and formed two coalitions – Coalition
of Community Against Corruption, and Coalition for Peace in Central Sulawesi.
The President's statement was an old and overused (but still effective) method of
scapegoat by blaming on the immaturity of the society as the core factor that sparks
violence. The National Police Chief Sutanto also blamed the community for the
slowness of police investigations. He said the community is reluctant to open up and
give information to the police on perpetrators of violence, hinting those responsible are
members of the community themselves.
To make matters worst, like usual the statements by the President and Police Chief
were quoted by the media which continue to promote the genre of the religious conflict
in Poso. The public also continues to believe in the conflict. Only a few opposed
military approach to end the so-called Poso conflict. Many do not realize that such
approach brings a whole set of problems rather than resolutions.
There are a number of views on what caused the Poso conflict. To this day, most
media describe the conflict in three periods. The first occurred in December 1998
where two men of different beliefs clashed during a sub-district head election. The
second period was in April 2000 where again two men of different beliefs fought,
followed by shootings and burnings of hundreds of houses and two churches. The
third period occurred just one month after the second in May 2000. This time, the
clash was sparked by rumors that Christian groups were organizing themselves to
retaliate to the perpetrators of the second period conflict. The authority backed out,
leaving Poso a killing field. This third period clash was the worst, causing so much
damage and lost of lives. Killings were everywhere. Refugees flocked all over Sulawesi
and other places.
Some other views added a fourth period of clashes where killings continued even after
the Malino peace agreement in December 2001. The NGOs blame corruption as the
main cause of the violence as various parties were trying to get a tap on the large
So, the conflict between 1998 to 2001 can be categorized as a conflict of economic
interests that involved and sacrificed the community of Poso, while the post 2001
conflict is more sophisticated, involving high level political elites which was carried out
by the professionals (and/or trained militias) by sacrificing the Poso people. The
President has simplified such complex conflict.
There are also three levels of suffering in Poso. The first are victims who have lost
materials and non-materials. These were people who were forcefully displaced,
separated from family members, lost their houses and belongings, killed, and buried
The second level victims are the refugees who are manipulated by corrupt officials who
took away their rights. The corruption also led to sniper attacks and mysterious
murders. The NGOs call these officials "from mediator to contractor to corruptor".
Furthermore, "the refugees are given Super Mie (type of instant noodle) while officials
walk away with Super Kijang (type of Toyota car)".
The third level of suffering comes from such statements made by President SBY (and
his Police chief) who continues to blame religious conflicts as the source of violence
in Poso. Moreover, the people of Poso have to accept that the line between
condemnation and the act of covering up seems to be so thin.
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