Tue, 06 Mar 2001

Conflict mapping is needed, says sociologist

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Detailed conflict mapping, showing the areas with potential for conflict, is needed to help the government prevent communal and sectarian clashes which endanger the nation's unity and sovereignty, a sociologist has said.

Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University Sociologist Lambang Trijono told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that actually it was too late for the government to make such a map. "But the mapping is badly needed as this archipelagic country has abundant ethnic groups, each with its own culture."

Lambang, who is a researcher at the Center of Security and Peace Studies at Gadjah Mada University said that the government has been too sluggish in dealing with the Sampit clamor.

At least 400 people, mostly Madurese migrants, were killed in the mayhem which started about two weeks ago.

"The (Sampit) riot took place because the government had yet to resolve similar clashes in other areas properly. As soon as Sambas and Sanggau Ledo broke out the government should have taken proper steps, by among other things, proper law enforcement," he said referring to the Dayak-Madurese communal clashes in Central Kalimantan, which killed hundreds of people, mostly Madurese, in early 1999.

"As soon as communal clashes erupted in Sambas and Sanggau Ledo, the government should have carried out conflict mapping to prevent further clashes from happening in other parts of the country.

A series of communal and sectarian clashes in Indonesia was the reflection of the government's failure in establishing tolerance and equality among citizens.

In a pluralistic society such as Indonesia's an ability to manage prejudice among ethnic groups is very important. "In the long run comprehensive cultural education is needed in order that differences among ethnic groups do not turn to conflict."

Sharing her opinion, a criminal law expert from the Padjadjaran University in Bandung, Komariah Emong Sapardjaja, said in a separate interview that the Sampit clamor was like an echo of the other unresolved deadly mayhem.

"Poor law enforcement and unfinished legal proceedings to deal with those guilty in other riots have encouraged people to engage in similar chaotic action. People may have been given the impression that killing people will not be prosecuted."

"The law should have become the bastion to curb other conflicts from occurring in Kalimantan and it should treat people the same regardless of their religion and race. Therefore, both Dayak and Madurese people should be equal in the eyes of the law," Komariah said.

She said that those committing crimes, including murder and arson, should be prosecuted soon.

Komariah said that legal proceedings must be followed by social, mass psychological and economic educational approaches, as the clashes have had a complex background.


Meanwhile, an expert in education Suyanto, said that it would take time for the child refugees involved to eliminate their feelings of trauma.

"The child refugees may have serious psychological problems after seeing murders and other kind of violence. They need time to wipe out the horror," the rector of the State University of Yogyakarta said.

He assumed that the Sampit genocide was more brutal than the Jewish ethnic cleansing carried out by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

"The refugee children do need proper education. Don't take this problem for granted. Emergency classrooms must be built. Elementary school students from the first, second and third grades could join in one class, while those of the fourth, fifth and sixth grades could join together in another class in an emergency situation."

From an economic point of view the recent Central Kalimantan violence would not cause significant losses to the national economy.

Economist Arief Ramlan Karseno of Gadjah Mada University said on Saturday that the country's economy now mostly depended on exports, "but the clash does have an impact on foreign investment."

"It has almost no impact currently on foreign investors because they had been reluctant to come into Indonesia for several years before the conflict in Sampit erupted. But, of course, the ethnic clash in Sampit will force the government to work harder to woo foreign investors," he said.

Karseno said that the negative impact of the riot had affected politics more than the country's economic scene.

"The riot inevitably gives President Abdurrahman Wahid's government another negative image, but I doubt that it will cause too much damage to the country's economy, which is currently based on income from international trade," he said.

Last year, he added, the national economy was based mostly on the rising value of exports compared with a relative decline in foreign imports since the economic crisis hit the country few years ago.

Karseno said that the current government had managed to boost the country's international trade as showed in last year's export figures and the 10 percent increase in the value of exports in January this year.

Locally, he said, the ethnic clash could cause economic loss to the Central Kalimantan administration as many public assets had been destroyed.

"If the mobs destroyed a market, the administration must build a new market to make local economy revive. Economically, the area most affected by the Sampit riot is Sampit regency," he said.

Karseno said that the riot would temporarily disturb export activities from the riot-torn areas but trade would regain as soon as the riot was properly dealt with. He said that Central Kalimantan province mainly exported raw material such as wood, and other natural resources.

Karseno said there was no other choice for the government but to stop the violence.

"The sooner the violence is curbed the better for the country," he said. (23/44/25)