Governor Urges Calm after Transmigrant Clashes in Sumatra
Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika called for calm after reports that Balinese migrant communities had been the victims of communal violence in Sumatra, and stressed that rumours of groups of activists departing for Sumatra from Bali to protect their compatriots were untrue.
Violence erupted in Sidomulyo in South Lampung in the far south of Sumatra on Tuesday afternoon, reportedly following an argument over a Rp1,000 (11 US cents) parking fee.
A motorcyclist from Sidomulyo, a community made up mostly of Balinese transmigrants, many of them settled in the area for decades, allegedly refused to pay the required fee at a local market to a parking attendant from nearby Kotadalam, and reportedly assaulted him in the argument which followed.
Hundreds of armed Kotadalam residents then descended on Sidomulyo, destroying at least 83 houses and forcing dozens of families to flee.
Police and soldiers eventually dispersed the mobs, after being forced to close the nearby Trans-Sumatra Highway for several hours.
Responding to the news on Wednesday morning, chief Bali government spokesman I Ketut Teneng said the governor had called for Bali residents not to risk inflaming the situation further.
“The governor has called the governor of Lampung directly to discuss the whole issue of conflict between the Balinese people living there, with Lampung locals, to ensure that the conflict can be resolved quickly and peacefully,” he said.
Teneng said Pastika had confirmed that rumours of mass mobilisation of Balinese men planning to go to Lampung and take up arms were false, and added that the government was working with the Bali police chief, the Forum for Religious Harmony, the Hindu Dharma Indonesia Student Union and various other Hindu and community groups to ensure that further unrest does not follow the incident, either in Bali or in Lampung itself.
Teneng stressed that the governor had asked for the people of Bali not to react excessively in response to news of the Lampung clashes.
“And we certainly won’t be sending any teams of Bali people there, because it is the affair of the local government to deal with the problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, officials from Buleleng, where many of the Lampung settlers originally came from, have said that information is not yet complete about the people involved in the violence.
Head of the Buleleng Manpower and Transmigration Department Made Sulastri said that as of Wednesday officials were seeking information about what had happened.
“We are still gathering information related to the presence of migrants from Buleleng there,” he said, adding that many of the Buleleng people living in Sidomulyo had been there for 20 or 30 years, and that details of the numbers of Balinese living there were not available.
“There are certainly people from Buleleng living in the area but we don’t have a clear idea of the numbers,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Bali-born member of the South Lampung Regional Assembly, Ketut Erawan, said that around 500 Balinese families had been displaced in the violence, and were currently based in temporary camps.
“Their houses were burned; their temples were also burned; their possessions are lost. We hope there are people who will do something to help them,” he said.Filed under: Headlines