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SAMPIT - On February 20, a West Kalimantan panglima, a kind of witch doctor arrived in the Dayak village of Luwuk Bunter, 24 kilometers north of Sampit. The panglima, named Edi, cast a spell on some oil and gave it to selected warriors to drink.
One of the chosen was 18-year-old Teguh. His cousin Wee Wee is half Dayak and an English teacher in Sampit. She tells with pride how he beheaded the Madurese.
"This man is my cousin, name's Teguh. He's still in senior high school but he comes from a small village near Sampit. He's one of the Dayak warriors and he has killed three Madurese in Sampit by his own mandau," she says enthusiastically. I ask if he is proud. "Yes of course," she says and explains that it was an honor to be picked to fight in the tribal war.
Dayaks killed about 500 men women and children and more than 51,000 Madurese were evacuated from Sampit. Wee Wee says the oil made the Dayak warriors brave so they could kill the Madurese and that Edi traveled to other villages around Sampit recruiting 150 warriors who then descended on Sampit from all directions.
She laughs, saying how the Madurese were running, trying to hide but "the flying mandau" guided the warriors. A flying mandau is a Dayak knife that moves magically through the air, hunting people of its own volition. Her husband saw it, but Teguh who remains silent, shakes his head. He didn't see it.
In one Sampit home 50 Madurese were hiding. They were marched down the street by the warriors and taken to the Hotel Rama where they were slain. One man was spared because he had a "good attitude" towards the Dayaks. He was allowed to evacuate. She says the Madurese who didn't leave Sampit and tried to fight, lost their heads. Headhunting is an ancient tradition in Kalimantan, so is cannibalism.
"This happened now, they drink the blood because that is the tradition, they must, because they will be very strong, stronger than before if they eat the blood, eat the hearts," she says.Not all Dayak warriors ate hearts or drank blood, some just tasted it so the curse of the Madurese could be lifted. Teguh tasted Madurese blood, which he thought tasted different.
Wee Wee shows no sympathy for the Madurese. Before the massacre the Madurese controlled Sampit for two days, causing many Dayak women and children to flee the town. At least seven Dayaks burned to death when Madurese armed with "clurits" or knives surrounded them and then set the house alight. Professor Usop, a former University rector and head of the Dayak people's association, insists the killing was done in self-defense because the Dayaks had been attacked. He believes reports of the flying mandau and says there were perhaps 10 panglimas or mystical leaders who visited villages around Sampit.
He says after the warriors drank the oil they were in a trance "possessed by ancestral spirits". They were not normal when they killed. "I regret it, and I'm concerned and shocked to see headhunting skills are alive again after being buried 100 years ago, when all the Dayaks through their chiefs in 1894 agreed to stop it," he says.
On the streets of Sampit there's an atmosphere of barely suppressed euphoria. Indonesian flags are flying all over the town in mourning not for the hundreds of slain Madurese, but for four Dayaks killed by police during a riot in the capital, Palangkaraya. The victors take their spoils. The looting of Madurese homes in Sampit goes on unashamedly and unabated. Dayaks say if the roofing iron isn't removed from the Madurese homes or goods taken from abandoned shops, then they will be burned.
Hundreds of homes are now just piles of charcoal, twisted blackened pieces of corrugated iron, smashed dinner sets and melted glass. Wee Wee says magic was used like a shield to separate Madurese homes from neighboring Dayak houses so they weren't set on fire as well. Further down S.Parman Street in Sampit, Didi has just cycled home with a bag of Kapoke on the back of his bicycle. He's Javanese, it says so in chalk on the wall of his house, written there as a form of protection. There are other signs too on Sampit homes, with "Java" writen on paper signs. Others are painted and read "Banjar" and "Padang", names of other Indonesian tribes. They were not harmed.
Across the road from Didi lives a Dayak, Irvan who has erected a flagpole to fly the Merah Putih or Indonesian flag. Why doesn't he fly the flag at half-mast for the Madurese? He replies: "Generally people here don't like Madurese living in Sampit". Irvan tells the story of his relative, a 28-year-old Dayak man, who worked at a local logging company and was married to a Madurese woman. He had traveled with his wife and child to Madura to ensure they were evacuated safely. After he had arrived in Madura, he tried to return to Sampit but was killed by the Madurese.
On a guided tour of burnt out homes, just around the corner Irvan finds a hairpiece in one burnt out shell and puts it on. He jokes around pretending a woman is being beheaded. We are followed by a group of children who laugh at Irvan's actions. A small Dayak girl in a bright orange shirt tells how her Madurese friend, five-year-old Eni, was found beheaded under the tree next door with the body of a woman. She says when she found Eni she cried, "because Eni was her friend".
Irvan and Didi say it is impossible for the Madurese to return here but perhaps they could come back after some years of living in Java. Wee Wee, whose home was surrounded by Madurese who threatened to kill her before the Dayak warriors came, says they cannot come back. "I don't think so, so many people don't like their behavior and their attitude, so of course we reject them." Professor Usop thinks it will take six months at the earliest but probably years to resolve.
The military, police and even the local government agree there won't be a speedy return. If they ever come back, hopefully the girl in the orange shirt will remember her Madurese friend and not the beheaded corpse under a tree.

By Kirsty Alfredson

Posted in Violence @ 13 April 2001 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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