Muslims, Christians reach peace in Papua

SHAFAQNA - Muslim and Christian communities in Tolikara, Papua, reached a peace agreement on Wednesday following last week’s riot in which angered masses burned down several kiosks and the fire spread to a musholla (small mosque). 

Taking place at the Karubaga Military Command (Koramil) in Tolikara, leaders from the two communitues shook hands in the traditional pegunungan tengah way, in which the middle finger of a person is squeezed by the middle and fore finger of the other person and then tugged to create a sound. 

After shaking hands, they hugged each other as residents from the Muslim and Christian communities witnessed the truce agreement. The settlement was preceded by community work to clean up debris from last Friday’s fire.

The Muslim party was represented by Muslim preacher Ali Muchtar, while the Christian party was represented by Marthen Jingga and Nayus Wenda.

“Peace has been reached this morning at the Koramil office, where they [Muslim and Christian leaders] shook hands and hugged each other. The situation was calm and economic activity has returned to normal. The event took place for only two hours,” said Tolikara Regent Usman Wanimbo in Jayapura after visiting victims receiving treatment at the Dok II regional hospital on Wednesday.

During the reconciliation, Ali Mochtar appealed to other Muslims to refrain from making provocative statements. 

“Muslims in Java and Sumatra and other places should not take to revenge because positive measures have been taken as an alternative,” said Ali. 

Separately, six victims who were shot during the Tolikara incident in July are presently receiving treatment at the Dok II regional hospital in Jayapura. Three of them, identified as Perenus Wanimbo, 28, Keratus Kogoya, 30, and Yulianus Lambe, 28, who were all hit in the thigh, have undergone surgery.

Three others, Erendinus Jikwa, 21, Galibuli Jikwa, 50, and Amaten Wenda, 31, will undergo surgery on Thursday.

According to hospital director Yeremias Mzen, the gunshot victims must undergo surgery due to the shrapnel that is embedded in their wounds. 

Yeremias said that the bullets that hit them had likely ricocheted off other objects. “The bullets may have ricocheted and then hit the victims,” said Yeremias.

The six victims claimed that they were not involved with the group that set fire to the stalls, which in turn then spread to the musholla, but rather that they were only bystanders who were watching the incident from the sidewalk. Galibuli, who is hearing impaired, was standing on the sidewalk when he was hit by a bullet. The bullet lodged in his thigh and it came out by itself when he was at the hospital. 

Four other gunshot victims are presently receiving treatment at the Wamena regional hospital in Jayawijaya, and another victim is undergoing treatment at the Tolikara regional hospital. The deceased has been identified as Endi Wanimbo, 15.

Cenderawasih Military Command chief Maj. Gen. Fransen G. Siahaan was also seen visiting victims at the Dok II regional hospital.

Meanwhile in Jakarta, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will soon to host a dialogue between religious leaders, indigenous leaders and Papuan figures to ease tensions in Tolikara, and at the same time, restore trust among the people nationwide.

The plan was made following a meeting between Jokowi and a number of government officials, including Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti and Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, who discussed the Tolikara incident on Wednesday at the State Palace.

Gatot revealed that Jokowi also disbursed Rp 1 billion (US$ 74,418) in financial aid to help rebuild the kiosks and the musholla. 

“We will also build 15 more kiosks in addition to rebuilding the 70 kiosks [which were burned and destroyed during the incident] for the locals there,” he added.

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