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Palu villagers seek refuge after clash PALU - The deadly clash between the police and followers of sect leader Madi almost two weeks ago, and the ensuing hunt for him, have caused hundreds of people to seek refuge in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu.

The people came down from Salena village in the Gawalise hills, where Madi had spread his teachings, and the neighboring villages of Lekatu. Most are women and children, who have been separated from their husbands and fathers following the clash, which left three police officers and a Madi follower dead.

The villagers have been staying in the offices of the Palu Public Housing Agency under police guard. The hill, locally known as Kamalisi, is located less than 11 kilometers away from Palu. But because Salena lies at the base of the hilly area of Gawalise, the village is a bit isolated. It lacks public services, including health and education facilities.

There are around 20 small timber houses in the village. Due to the isolation, the local administration has tried to move the Salena people to a resettlement area. Edmon Leonard, a member of the Salena advocacy team, said the people had been asked to abandon their village, sometimes by use of force.

He said the residents, mostly farmers, had not only been facing intimidation, but their access to natural resources had been denied. Some of them have indeed moved to Palu to work as becak (pedicab) drivers or to sell honey, orchids or song birds. "It is sad that many villages in Kamalisi are still isolated although the place is located not far from Palu," said Edmon, whose group is providing legal aid for Salena people who have been named suspects by the police following the clash last month.

Madi followers and police officers clashed on Oct. 25 after the 27-year-old sect leader refused to go to the police station for questioning over his religious teachings, which the police said had disturbed the community. The local office of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) has declared Madi's teachings heresy. Director of the Free Land Foundation (YTM) in Palu Arianto Sangadji said no institution had the right to say Madi's teachings were contrary to Islamic beliefs.

Madi remains at large, although police claim to have shot him in the leg. One platoon of Central Sulawesi Police officers has been deployed to hunt down Madi, while another platoon has been assigned to guard the isolated village.


Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict') Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict'):
04 November 2005 · Bomb defused in central Sulawesi town
04 November 2005 · Police identify men in schoolgirl beheadings
31 October 2005 · Mahdi shot but remains at large
30 October 2005 · Govt boosts security after girls beheaded
29 October 2005 · Three Christian schoolgirls beheaded in C. Sulawesi


Posted in C. Sulawesi conflict @ 08 November 2005 09:08 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





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