Ina Parlina and Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta/Jayapura – In an effort to further establish peace after last week's Tolikara incident in Papua, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo hosted religious leaders from the regency and the province for a meeting at the State Palace on Friday.
Lipiyus Biniluk, Papua's Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) head, who is also the head of Papua's chapter of the Communion of Indonesian Evangelical Churches and Institutions (PGLII), said that he and his Muslim counterparts had reported to the President that Tolikara and Papua were now safe.
"And now the people in Tolikara can continue their lives as normal," Lipiyus told a press conference after the meeting.
"Tolikara was not about religion. The basic problem was a failure to communicate about existing joint commitments," Lipiyus explained referring to a commitment between all parties in Tolikara that allowed Muslims to hold Idul Fitri prayers there. "And that is what I told the President," he added.
The commitment had been made at a meeting between the Tolikara Police, representatives of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia (GIDI), local Muslim leaders and representatives of the Tolikara administration, which saw the revocation of a letter allegedly prohibiting Muslims from holding Idul Fitri prayers in the area.
According to Lipiyus, the two confirmed suspects in the case triggered the incident of their own initiative. "I assure [you] that there was no involvement of any other parties," he added. "This was purely because of failed communication."
Jokowi invited on Thursday representatives from various religious organizations to a dialogue to discuss efforts to maintain interfaith harmony following the Tolikara incident.
In a joint statement, the religious leaders called on the public, including religious and indigenous leaders and figures, to deepen interfaith dialogues to maintain harmony, saying that everyone, the government included, must learn from the Tolikara incident.
In his speech during the meeting, Jokowi said he had ordered police to act firmly in their follow up investigations "so that everyone, regardless of religion, [was] treated equally before the law".
The President reminded everyone that Indonesia was a pluralist nation, underlining the importance of maintaining interfaith communication, and saying that the Tolikara incident could have been avoided with better use of communication.
In the follow-up investigation, the police said on Friday that they would charge suspects JW and AK with violations of articles 160 and 170 of the Criminal Code, for assault causing damage to property, which carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.
"Both were involved in the attack and the forced dispersal of those gathered to pray. They were also involved in the burning of the kiosks," Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Yotje Mende said in Jayapura.
The two suspects, both bank employees in Karubaga, Tolikara, were brought from Tolikara to the Papua Police headquarters in Jayapura for questioning. They were flown on an Express Air flight from Wamena, Jayawijaya, after taking an overland trip on Thursday from Tolikara, and arrived at the headquarters at 1 p.m. local time.
Yotje said that his team had been developing its investigation and questioning witnesses, looking for other suspects in the incident. He said the police had so far examined 50 witnesses, 23 of whom were security personnel and 27 civilians.
The police will summon on Monday GIDI Papua president Dorman Wandikbo, GIDI Tolikara chairmen Yanus Wenda and Marthen Jingga as well as Tolikara Regent Usman Wanimbo in his capacity as the chairman of the organizing committee of GIDI youth's international seminar and spiritual revival service.