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Lampung truce achieved, but at expense of justice for dead

Jakarta Globe - November 6, 2012

Dessy Sagita & Ezra Sihite – The government has welcomed a peace deal between rival ethnic communities in Lampung, where long-simmering tensions boiled over into violent clashes last week that left at least 14 people dead and thousands displaced.

Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said on Monday that the 10-point truce was agreed on Sunday night between representatives from the native Lampung community and migrant Balinese community in South Lampung district.

"Early in the meeting, no agreement was reached because tensions were still high," he said, adding that it took urging from Lampung Governor Sjachroedin Z.P. to get them to see eye-to-eye.

"Even though several agreements were finally made, the governor continued to push for them to hold follow-up meetings," Djoko said.

He added that Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika would also visit Lampung to help follow up on the peace pact. "We are coordinating with the governor and the district administration to promote this agreement at the grassroots level," the minister said.

The violence was sparked by a trivial spat on Oct. 27, which, fueled by long-running tensions between the predominantly Hindu migrant Balinese community in Balinuraga village and surrounding villages with mostly Muslim populations, led to a series of clashes and attacks.

At least 14 people were confirmed killed in the violent, while around 2,000 of the Balinuraga residents fled their homes.

Crucially, however, one of the 10 points in the peace deal calls for police and residents alike not to pursue criminal charges over the death and destruction.

Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, a National Police spokesman, said as quoted by Metrotvnews.com that the police would study that point further, but insisted that the perpetrators needed to be held accountable.

Another requirement under the 10-point agreement is for members of the ethnic Balinese community to be less insular and blend more with their neighbors.

Djoko said that besides promoting the peace pact, the provincial and district authorities should also work hard to reduce the wealth gap between the locals and the more enterprising migrants, which has been blamed as a major factor underlying the tensions between the two groups.

"We need to reduce the economic disparity between the groups because conflicts can arise from these differences and can even hinder the resolution of the problems," he said.

Other points in the agreement include a pledge by both sides to maintain security, order, harmony, solidarity and peace with one another.

They also vowed not to repeat their violent conduct of the past, and agreed that if there were personal disputes with the potential to incite wider violence, the case should be resolved immediately by the concerned parties.

Should they be unable to reach a resolution, they must bring the dispute before a council made up of community and religious leaders, youth leaders and local officials, the agreement states.

However, if even this measure fails to settle the spat, then the matter should be handled by law enforcement officers.

Both sides also vowed to admonish and counsel any of their members whose actions or statements had the potential to aggravate tensions or lead to unrest.

The agreement stated that if the individuals in question failed to comply with the rules, they could face being exiled from South Lampung.

Legislators welcomed the signing of the agreement, but cautioned that security should not be allowed to lapse.

"Reason and common sense have prevailed in this matter, but we still need the police and the military in place there to make sure the peace deal holds, said Martin Hutabarat from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).