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Wave of refugees leave Sampit SAMPIT - Thousands of Sampit's citizens, the capital of East Kotawaringin Regency in Central Kalimantan, left Palangkaraya on Tuesday (20/2) in waves. Palangkaraya is located around 220 kilometers east of Sampit. Trucks laden with belongings of Sampit people and hundreds of private cars were constantly heading towards Palangkaraya.
The wave of refugees started after a conflict between ethnic groups broke out on Sunday in Sampit. The conflict resulted in the loss of life of 10 persons. In Sampit itself, hundreds sought refuge in the official residence of the Regent on Jalan A. Yani and at the Headquarters of the Police Resort of East Kotawaringin. People also parked their cars and motorbikesat the Headquarters of the Sampit Battalion.
Meanwhile, on account of the clashes in Selatpanjanjang, the capital of Tebingtinggi District,Bengkalis Regency, Riau, people live in the grip of fear for police retaliations after the headquarters of the local police sector and 40 police boarders went up in flames last Sunday. Long suffering police families who did not have to evacuate also lost their belongings. Several Selatpanjang people and in Pekanbaru told Kompas that nothing indicated Tuesday of a revenge attack. Even so, people were cautious. They took the initiative to stand watch in their own neighborhoods.

48 arrested

Central Kalimantan District Police Chief, Brigadier General Bambang Pranoto and Chief Police Resort East Kotawaringin, Adjunct Chief Commissioner, Benjamin Selawa told reporters in Sampit on Tuesday that 48 provocateurs were arrested in Sampit. Two Government employees of the Kotim Regency, FA and Le suspected to be behind the riots, have been registered in the Central Kalimantan District Police list of missing persons. The security situation in Sampit has generally improved since the outbreak, according to the District Police Chief. At the moment 24 police platoons and two companies army backups. The TNI contingency comprising one company is still waiting in South Kalimantan. There are now as many as 24 police platoons and two volunteering units from TNI.
"The condition will soon return to normal. I only don't knowwhen exactly. It is clear though that we will work hard to normalize te situation in Sampit again," he said. The police managed to confiscate 50 weapons and one selfmade pistol. Detainees had to be accommodated at the Central Kalimantan District Police Headquarters because cells of the East Kotawaringin Police Resort are quite insufficient.
"I want to say it clearly, there is only a total count of 10 victims. And with the evacuation, police stayed unpartial, all citizens were provided with the same service. The flow of refugees began to grow on Monday and Tuesday," he said. Central Kalimantan District Police Chief said that they had not succeeded yet to net the two riot instigators of Sampit. They are probably hiding in the forests. Some 10 hours are needed to reach their hiding place and 15 helpers.
"The hiding place of the two troublemakers are deep in the hinterland. To get there we have to cross river rapids. Anyway, wherever they are, they have to be found and arrested," the District Police chief said. According to information gathered by Kompas, yesterday, religious figures of both parties agreed at a meeting to stop the fighting. The meeting was held in the home of the Kotim Regent. After the meeting chaired by Deputy Governor, Nahson Taway, they approached a crowd who were reluctant to disperse and mingled with them.
In the Baamang area, for instance, crowds of people refused to return home. Meanwhile, Kompas noted on a 3,5 hour long trip from Palangkaraya - Sampit that many citizens stood on guard along the main road. Equiped with drums and weapons like spears, blowpipes and swords, they watch for any signs of unrest. Otherwise, traffic on the highway of Sampit drove by in a relaxed way and several favorite places of the locals, it looked quiet. Offices were closed and school activities were totally down with nobody knowing when these learning centers will reopen.
"Every 30 cars loaded with refugees are to be escorted by security men. The police is not serving individual requests," the Police Resort Chief of Sampit said. According to a number of Sampit habitants showing traumatic signs after last Sunday riots, most of their supplies at home are depleted. Shops which usually cater to their needs are still closed. "Many people are threatened by hunger because they are coped up at home, while food is almost non-existent," they said.

Watched over by six platoons

Several people from Selatpanjang contacted by Kompas, yesterday, expressed fears for retaliation actions of the police. Fears have also grown with the presence of six platoons from several cities, like Pekanbaru, Batam and Dumai. "There is no other force which comes at a par. The more so since they are also supported by TNI. TNI was nowhere in sight during the normalization actions in Selatpanjang," a Kompas source said.
One of the Selatpanjang folks figures, Karim Tayah, and the Chief Spokesman of the Bengkalis Regency, Hermanto, have justified the presence of the security force. Both of the men are convinced that the police will not add to the people's suffering, even though people had a taste of retaliation in thhe past. "If that happens, it really would be a surprise," Karim said. Chief Spokesman Riau District Police, Commissioner S. Pandiangan SH said on a separate occasion that six police platoons in Selatpanjang have been instructed not to step outside the line of command.
"There will be no fear for revenge," Pandiangn said. According to information, evacuation did not happen among police families alone, ethnic Chinese people also moved away. "At least 2.000 Chinese evacuated to several places. Aside from having lost their homes and shops, they also fear fresh rioting. They went to stay with acquaintances in Selatpanjang, some of them evacuated to other places said public figure, Karim Tayah.
Economic activities in Selatpanjang have become non-existent. Out of several shopping centers, only the Juling market is still open for business. Other shopping locations have turned to charcoal. Chinese refugees were also observed at study activities in Selatpanjang, said the Head of the National Education Department Tebingtinggi District, Selamat Marino. "Only 30 percent of thousands of students from Primary to High School levels are coming to school. And those are of original descent, while Chinese pupils who crowd mid-town schools are nowhere to be seen," he said.

Posted in Violence @ 21 February 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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