Friday, May 21, 2010


The Tragedy of Ambon: what did really happen? - Part 2

Br. Peter C. Aman ofm
JPIC Coordinator of the Franciscan Province Indonesia.
Franciscan Province of Indonesia
Jln. Kramat V/10 – Jakarta 10430
Tel. (021) 3909941
Fax. (021) 3101940
E-Mail :


Tears and blood were not dry yet in Ambon and we were shocked by the new episode of the ethnic war in Sambas, West Borneo (Kalimantan). I say a new episode of the war, because there occurred wars several times between Dayak people and Madura there; the new conflict occurred between Melayu people and Madura people in Sambas. The conflict involved the people of Dayak, Bugis and Chine which were united to support the Melayu people to attack the Madura people.

Personal conflict has become ethnic conflict or war
In its interesting to analyze the conflicts occurred in Indonesia in recent years. The conflict generally started by the personal conflict and quarrel but soon after that it became a racial, religious and ethnic conflict. According to some hypothesis there are some provocateurs who are intelligently provoke and manipulate a little case to become a great conflict, whether ethnic, racial or religious conflicts. Anyhow the conflict in Sambas has its own background. The people in Sambas or in West Borneo are consisted of the Dayak (native people), Melayu, Chinese, Madura, Bugis etc. These people came to West Borneo and live there for economic reasons, to get a better life. For many years there have occurred many conflicts between the Dayak people and Madura people. But the last conflict has become interesting because the Dayak are united with Melayu, Chinese and Bugis to attack Madura. Why?

This ethnic war was caused by personal conflicts. Here is the story: on January 7th 1999 Bujang Labik did not pay bus ticket and it made Rudi, a Melayu, angry. Then Bujang Labik accompanied by his groups attacked Rudi. At the same time Ibrahim a Maduran clashed with some people in Pemangkat Market and soon after that there were found 4 Maduran people died. On January 19th 1999 Madura people killed about 4 Melayu people. On January 23 there was a personal conflict between a Bugis man and Maduran, that is wahy the Bugis people supported Melayu. The Dayak people involved in the conflict because Martinus Amat, a Dayak man, was killed and his car was burnt.

The open war between Madura and the united group (Melayu, Dayak, Bugis and Cina, the Chinese was forced to involve) occurred bertween 16 – 25 of March 1999. The war took place in 13 different places in the County of Sambas, West Borneo. Hundreds died and injured. Thousands refuged and left Sambas to another places or forest around there. The victims and detriment are as following:
The victims:


1 died


12 died




252 died







The detriments:


2330 burnt down

164 destroyed


4. burnt down

6 destroyed


1 burnt down

9 destroyed

The root of the problems/conflict
I have describe a general background the contemporary problems and conflicts in Indonesia. The problems are rooted in the wrong political, economic and social policies in the era of the regime of Soeharto named Orde Baru. But I think it is important to note that the conflict in Sambas between the Maduran people and Dayak occurred several times in the past. I would like to write down some reasons of the conflicts which are rooted in the cultural misunderstanding or insulting: There are some great cultural differences between Madura and Dayak (and Melayu people). The Madura people always and everywhere bring their traditional gun named: carok. Whereas according to Dayak (culture) people, those who bring gun want to fight. The Maduran people, especially those who entered Borneo in 1980-s, seem arrogant and tend to be criminal. The Maduran people tend to force their own will and threaten the other people to fulfill their will. There are many cases that indicate how the Maduran take over the houses and lands of the inland people. The Dayak people accused the Maduran people neglect the agreement assigned in 1997.

But there are also some economic problems. The Madura people always work hard and they want to carry out whatever jobs if it brings money. Therefore economically they are getting better and sometimes it causes the social jealousy. Many works have been carried out by Maduran people, whereas the Melayu and Dayak people accused that the Maduran people has take over their jobs.

But some analysts say that the conflict of Sambas is a part of a great scenario of some "hidden" important people who want to cause to fail the next general election. They want to crate a national chaos. Some say that the conflicts are the manifestations of the dissatisfaction of Soeharto who was toppled down last year. He want to turn the national attention from the investigation of is corruptions and violations during his power to the racial and religious conflicts. Which is the right one?


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He shook the bird and the bird got more angry and exceedingly rude.
Finally, in a moment of desperation, he put the parrot in the freezer.
For a few moments he heard the bird squawking, kicking and screaming and then, suddenly, all was quiet.
The man was frightened that he might have actually hurt the bird and quickly opened the freezer door. The parrot calmly stepped out onto the man's extended arm and said: "I'm sorry that I offended you with my language and actions. I ask for your forgiveness. I will try to improve my behavior."
The man was astounded at the bird's change in attitude and was about to ask what changed him when the parrot continued, "...May I ask what the chicken did?"

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