07/31/2008, 00.00
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Christian students driven out by Muslims find refuge in parliament

by Benteng Reges
The group intends to report to the national human rights commission. Suspicions: the attack by radical Muslims was manoeuvred by a company that wants to take possession of the area where the evangelical institute of theology lies.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – No peace for the 471 students and their professors from Arastamar’s evangelical institute for theology, attacked by a group of fundamentalist Muslims June 26th last. Hunted by a group linked to the Muslim brothers of Pulo Kampung, they are seeking refuge: some are being hosted by a sector of the Senayan parliament, others in the police Headquarters and others still in the Christian Bethel Church east of Jakarta.

The 1500 students from the evangelical school of theology (which belongs to the Setia foundation) were set upon by a Muslim crowd an accused of theft and of having illegally built the Christian buildings.  The clashes too place on June 26th and left over 20 people seriously wounded.

The students together with their professors today denounced the incident, presenting a report documenting the attack of which they are the victims to the National commission for human rights (Komnas Ham), in the hopes of receiving some form of reassurance.

The have also decided to write a letter to the governor of Jakarta, Fauzi Bowo in which they criticise the decision of the east Jakarta district chief,  Murdani, who blamed the Christians for the raid, asking both “warring” parties to stay calm.  “As a Christian minority - he told them- the students should behave”.

Theology student Harry Hutabarat, told AsiaNews: “These words offend us and they also offend what the Jakarta governor has long maintained, that is that the “city is for every communities”.

Sukowaluyo Mintorahardjo, the main activist of the Bina Setia Foundation visited the students and teachers in the various places where they have been given refuge.  He has denied that Setia falsified documents for the construction of their buildings, as certain Muslim personalities have implied. “This is a false accusation without any basis – he says – and we have had all of the legal governing documents in our possession since the very beginning of the school”.

Sukowaluyo believes that the assault on the school by the hundred young fundamentalists and local people was motivated by economic issues.  “About 8 to 10 years ago a construction company approached us to move our campus elsewhere.  But instead of friendly negotiations they ordered us to leave”.

The Setia campus is worth a lot in monetary terms and the entire surrounding area is in the hands of the same construction company.

Sukowaluyo also rejected the accusations that religion is the real cause of the attack provoked by the Christian minority against the Muslim majority: “There was no reason to provoke violence. For 18 years we have lived in peace.  If there were to have been religious conflict the nit would have broken out long before this.  My campus was opened almost 19 years ago and has never had any problems.  Why now?”.

Gayus Lumbuun, a politician from the Indonesian Democracy Party Struggle (PDIP) confirmed that tomorrow students must be “removed” to other places. But since in the coming days an overall examination will be taking place, he has assured that some rooms will be provided for them during the general examinations”.



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