Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – Families affected by the 1999 communal conflict in Maluku are entitled to receive compensation worth around Rp 3.9 trillion (US$273.3 million) in total, after the Supreme Court rejected a case review petition filed by the government challenging its obligation to provide compensation.
The Supreme Court recently rejected the government's appeal against its previous verdict that upheld a lower court's ruling in favor of the victims of the sectarian conflict, who were the plaintiffs in the case.
The court's spokesperson Abdullah said the judges decided to "reject" the appeal on July 31 because the government failed to provide supporting data and evidence to invalidate the court's previous verdict.
"The government is obliged to rebuild areas affected previously by the conflict," Abdullah told reporters on Monday.
The class action lawsuit was first filed by victims Hibani, Anggada Lamani, Malia and Arif Lamina in 2011 at the Central Jakarta District Court. They claimed to represent over 200,000 families who became victims in the religious and communal conflicts that claimed thousands of lives from 1999 to 2004.
The lawsuit sought to lay the blame on the President and several ministers – including the coordinating political, legal and security minister and the finance minister – as well as regional administrations, for failing to exercise their obligation to provide proper compensation for each of the affected families.
The Central Jakarta District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in December 2012, ordering the government to compensate each of the affected families with Rp 15 million for construction materials to build houses and Rp 3.5 million of cash assistance.
The government appealed the verdict in May 2015 to the Jakarta High Court, which later decided to uphold the primary court's ruling, forcing the former to file a cassation with the Supreme Court in 2016. The Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
The bloody communal conflict in Maluku first broke out on the Island of Ambon on Jan. 19, 1999, following a fight between a Christian public transportaton driver and a Muslim youth, Human Rights Watch reported.
The fight then escalated into a war between Christians and Muslims, and it spread to the neighboring islands of Ceram, Saparua, Manipa, Haruku and Sanana.
"The areas have been burned to the ground, some 30,000 people have been displaced by the conflict," the organization reported. (afr)