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Prominent Dayaks accused of subversion

Down To Earth - March 29, 1997

Leading members of the Dayak community have been blamed for the violent ethnic conflict which took place in West Kalimantan earlier this year. The accusation is contained in a three-page report, purporting to investigate the causes of the unrest by a local 'study group'.

Although the authorities claim this report is highly secret, photocopies have been circulating around West Kalimantan since mid-February and have reached even the smallest villages in Pontianak district. The Indonesian security forces are calling this the 'Free Dayak Republic issue' (Republik Dayak Merdeka = RDM).

There are fears that the report could result in official charges of subversion against the seven Dayaks, for which the maximum penalty is death. Twenty five people have already been charged with subversion for their alleged involvement in the recent troubles in the province.

Those accused are: Drs SM Kaphat, Yacobus Frans Layang SH, Rachmad Sahudin, Dr AH Meser, Pius Alfred, H. Ch Saiyan SH and Drs Stephanus Juweng. All seven strongly deny claims in the report that they are members of the RDM and were responsible for stirring up the recent protracted clashes between the Dayak and Madurese communities.

Juweng is head of the Institute of Dayakology, an NGO based in Pontianak which has been active in researching the problems of the indigenous people of Kalimantan for several years. SM Kaphat, a local MP who is also leader of the West Kalimantan Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), called the report complete slander which insulted all of them personally and the whole Dayak community. He ridiculed the suggestion that the Dayaks had established an independence movement and suggested that the report had been written in order to cause further unrest.

The report was sent to the military and intelligence forces in Jakarta as well as to local administrative and military authorities. Head of the West Kalimantan Police, Colonel Erwin Achmad, and local military commander Colonel Zainuri Hasyim, met reporters in Pontianak on March 12th, but refused to comment on the source or content of the report, stating that they were studying it carefully.

The report, dated February 14th, bears the name of a non-governmental 'study group' in West Kalimantan, headed by Prof Dr Syarif Ibrahim Alkadrie MSc. However, the Professor and his secretary say it is nothing to do with them and claim their headed notepaper and signatures were forged to discredit their group which has been actively working with the local government to bring about a peace settlement between the two communities.

Sources: Media 7/3/97, Merdeka 13/3/97, Media 13/3/97