Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The situation in Karubaga in Tolikara, Papua province, is more stable now, after the riot that took place in the district on Friday, July 17, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said here on Wednesday.

"I was there (in Tolikara) for a day, yesterday. It was peaceful. There was no problem at all. I met with all community members and shook hands with them," he stated after exchanging Eid greetings with President Joko Widodo and other cabinet members at the State Palace here on Wednesday.

He added that TNI (military) personnel and community members worked together to clean up the debris of the kiosks and a house of prayer (Mosque) that were burned down during the incident.

In addition, interfaith leaders witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony that marked the beginning of work to rebuild the structures.

A group of people believed to be members of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia (GIDI) went to Baitul Mustaqin Mosque in Tolikara when Muslims were performing an Eid prayer on Friday. They protested the use of a loudspeaker during the prayer, stating that it was disturbing an event their church was holding at the same time.

According to the chairman of the Communion of Evangelical Churches and Institutions in Indonesia, Roni Mandang, there was chaos after police officers fired shots at them, which led to the torching of kiosks. Flames from these fires spread to the Islamic house of prayer, once it was known that a person had been shot dead.

Moreover, Spokesman for the Public Information Division of the National Police Senior Commissioner Suharsono said that the police had opened fire to bring the rioting people to order and to keep them away from the mosque.

It was later confirmed that one person was killed and 11 others were wounded in the incident.

National Police Chief General Badrodin Haiti admitted that the police had opened fire during the incident in Tolikara, Papua, on Friday.

"The victims were shot because they were pelting stones at Muslims who were performing Eid prayers," he explained after visiting Karubaga, the capital of Tolikara district.

General Haiti added that the police are still investigating the case, including the shooting and torching incidents.

Furthermore, President Joko Widodo has ordered for funding of Rp1 billion to be extended to Tolikara to help rebuild the district.

"The president has issued directives. (He) has asked for Rp1 billion to be given as assistance to immediately rebuild the house of prayer (mosque), which has already been started, and the shops (burnt down during the clashes)," Commander of the National Defense Forces (TNI) General Gatot Nurmantyo said following a meeting with the president to exchange Eid greetings and a limited cabinet meeting held to discuss the issue at the State Palace on Wednesday.

General Nurmantyo pointed out that initially, they had decided to restore only 70 of the kiosks that had been set afire. However, it was later decided that 15 more kiosks will be built for use by local people to improve the regional economy.

Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo affirmed, "We are now concentrating on rebuilding the kiosks and the mosque so the economy runs again."

The minister also stated that the president had urged the police to continue their investigation into the case.

President Jokowi has called for the immediate enforcement of laws with regard to the case and the holding of dialogs with religious, traditional and community leaders of Papua to calm both local and national tensions.

On the occasion, General Nurmantyo emphasized the need to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future.

He pointed out that all followers of a religion must respect adherents of other religions and the countrys diversity because the movement to fight for the independence of Indonesia was based on the concept of "unity in diversity."

"We must not allow national harmony to be affected by such an incident. I think religious leaders have already stressed how we must strengthen our unity to build the nation," he remarked.

People across the country have deplored the incident, including GIDI.

General Chairperson of the Communion of Indonesian Churches (PGI) Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang said a day after the incident that the riot had spoiled the solemnity of the Eid celebration.

"PGI strongly condemns the disruption of the Eid prayers and the act of setting a house of prayer, a mosque, afire. The incident is a grave cause for concern, as it does not reflect the spirit of brotherhood that was jointly built in the country," Hutabarat-Lebang remarked.

She noted that violence of any kind and for any reason was not justifiable because it hurts the image of the Indonesian nation that upholds the concept of unity in diversity.

"Indonesia is a unitary state, and to maintain unity, no group is allowed to claim one region as its exclusive zone. Every citizen has the right to live and is free to exercise his religious duties," she emphasized.

Moreover, General Chairman of the Indonesian Fellowship of Churches and Evangelical Institutions Ronny Mandang said at a press conference on Saturday: "The incident hurt interreligious harmony and the sanctity of Idul Fitri celebrated by our brothers and sisters in Tolikara. We do not justify any kind of violence that harms our brotherhood."

In addition, Chairman of the Indonesian Ulemas Council Din Syamsuddin urged Muslims in Tolikara in Papua to restrain themselves from reacting to the incident that took place in the district on the occasion of Eid.

"Muslims do not need to exact revenge against the incident. They should display Muslims tolerance towards adherents of other religions," he stressed on Friday in response to the outbreak of an inter-communal conflict in Tolikara.

According to data received by the Ministry of Social Affairs, a total of 63 shops, houses, and a mosque had been set afire, while 38 families, or 153 people, have been evacuated.

To help them, the Papua division of the logistics board (Bulog) will send 10 tons of rice to Tolikara, following an instruction from Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who visited the district recently.

The commodity will be sent from the rice warehouse of the Wamena logistics office (Dolog), the head of the Papua division of Bulog, Arif Madu, affirmed.


Reporter: Yoseph Hariyadi
Editor: Kunto Wibisono
Copyright © ANTARA 2015