Trapped in a Legal Limbo, Indonesia’s Ahmadis Look for a Home

Fitri | February 29, 2012


Mataram. More than a hundred displaced followers of the Islamic Ahmadiyah sect who for years have had to live in shelters in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, have still not been registered to receive electronic identity cards, despite a March deadline.

In 2006, the members of the Ahmadiyah community in Gegerung village, West Lombok, were violently driven out by other residents who deemed them deviant and destroyed their homes.

Since then, West Nusa Tenggara authorities have refused to let the 183 Ahmadis return to Gegerung or relocate elsewhere, instead forcing them to remain in temporary shelters.

The head of the sect’s Mataram branch, Basyir Ahmad, said on Tuesday that they had appealed to the local administration to receive electronic identity cards, or e-KTPs, but had been turned down.

“Everywhere we turn, we are told the same thing: we are internally displaced residents of West Lombok district, not of Mataram,” he said. “The officials keep saying they are waiting for a decision from the West Lombok administration.”

Basyir said that for six years they had been forced to live in legal limbo and felt cheated by an uncaring government.

“I heard that the West Lombok district head, Zaini Arony, said he would help Ahmadis obtain e-KTPs, but only on the condition that we would not be allowed to live together,” he said.

H. Zulkarnain, head of the West Lombok Education and Civil Registry Office, told the Jakarta Globe the Ahmadis could not receive e-KTPs because they had left West Lombok and relocated to Mataram.

“They should ask the Mataram government because they are no longer registered as West Lombok residents,” he said.

The Ahmadis have been denied compensation for their old homes even as the government has barred them from returning to inhabit them.

Even so, some have tried to return and farm their land while keeping a low profile. But they have been routinely chased out by other villagers, who have branded them “a stain on this village” that “must be cleaned out.”

Electricity to the shelter they now live in was cut off three years ago. Food aid from the government — which has perpetuated their limbo by refusing them the right to return home or register as residents of Mataram — was halted last year. Sanitation facilities are nonexistent.

A stipend from the state was stopped in 2007.

Not being registered residents, they have been denied the free gas stoves distributed by the government to all citizens and they now resort to gathering scrap to burn as fuel.




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