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Madurese long to return to Kalimantan 'homeland'

Jakarta Post - October 10, 2001

Ainur R.Sophiaan, Surabaya – The Madurese refugees from Sampit and Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, now living in shelters and camps in Bangkalan and other areas on the island of Madura hope to return to their "former homeland" in Central Kalimantan in the next three months after a bylaw on demography is issued.

Central Kalimantan Governor Asnawi A. Gani told the refugees in Bangkalan on Monday that the bylaw would apply to the migrants as well as the indigenous Dayaks. Asnawi visited the refugees in Bangka along with Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Yusuf Kalla, Minister for Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah, West Kalimantan Governor Aspar Aswin and East Java Governor Imam Utomo. The VIPs met with 100 people representing the 140,000 Madurese migrants, now living in Madura and other areas of East Java, who were displaced due to sectarian clashes in Kalimantan last year.

Sectarian clashes between Madurese migrants and Malays and local Dayaks took place late last year and early this year. Thousands of Madurese were killed, forcing the survivors to flee from their houses. "Insyaallah [God Willing] the refugees here will be able to return to Kalimantan in the next three months," said Asnawi.

On behalf of the minister of social affairs, and the two Kalimantan governors, Yusuf Kall handed over a total of 100 million rupiah for the refugees, represented by governor Imam Utomo.

Asnawi said that the Central Kalimantan administration is preparing a bylaw which will apply to the migrants and locals alike. "Hopefully, the bylaw can in the future curb any possibility of ethnic-related clashes. Once the bylaw goes into effect, the local administration will have a legal basis to rule the people and act in case of any conflict," he said.

Asnawi reiterated that the situation in Sampit was not yet acceptable for the refugees to return. "Recently around 125 Madurese migrants have attempted to return to Sampit. The authorities stopped them on the way fearing that something would happen to them." "Please be patient. We are facing very complicated problems," he told the representatives and officials.

The Madurese are asking the government to allow them back in addition to providing massive resettlement aid. The government has said it did not want to give money or land at this point to avoid feelings of resentment by the Dayaks again.