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Cablegate: Central Sulawesi: Poso Feeling Secure, but Worried About The

VZCZCXRO6006
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0013/01 0311110
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311110Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0147
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0071
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 0010
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0135
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0019
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0152
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0023
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0069

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000013

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, DRL, EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAO EAID SOCI PTER
SUBJECT: CENTRAL SULAWESI: POSO FEELING SECURE, BUT WORRIED ABOUT THE
PACE OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY

REF: A. 07 SURABAYA 85 (POST-CONFLICT TENTENA AND POSO)

B. 07 JAKARTA 2597 (CENTRAL SULAWESI SECURITY)
C. 07 JAKARTA 2598 (CENTRAL SULAWESI ECONOMY)

SURABAYA 00000013 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: On a January 18-20 visit to Central Sulawesi,
Surabaya Pol/Econ officer spoke with NGOs, journalists,
academics and local residents about the current state of
post-conflict recovery in Poso. All agreed that the outlook is
positive overall; however there is an equally clear consensus
that fundamental vulnerabilities remain -- due to a lack of
economic opportunity and frustration over the pace of recovery
-- which could trigger violence if not addressed. A sense of
security is particularly important to convince small business
owners now living elsewhere to return to Poso and assist in the
region's economic recovery. End Summary.

Divisions Remain, But Re-Integration is Gaining Ground
--------------------------------------------- --------------
---------

2. (SBU) Surabaya Pol/Econ officer traveled to the cities of
Palu and Poso, Central Sulawesi, January 18-20 to evaluate the
effectiveness of reconciliation and economic development efforts
in this conflict-plagued region. While inter-religious violence
has ceased, economic recovery is proceeding more slowly than
hoped. During a wide-ranging discussion about ongoing recovery
efforts in Poso, five members of the Center for Conflict
Resolution and Peace (PKRP) described ameliorating residual
psychological effects of the conflict as one of two key factors
to current recovery efforts, but complained these effects were
often overlooked by authorities.

3. (SBU) PKRP and other Poso NGOs have formed discussion groups
to help witnesses to extreme violence address their own feelings
and recognize the suffering of others. Children are
particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of the
years of conflict, according to one PKRP worker. He said that
without intervention of some sort, traumatized children are
vulnerable to recruitment as willing fighters in a new cycle of
violence once they become adults. These discussions are taking
place in Poso and, although communities remain largely separated
along post-conflict religious lines, many Christian and Muslim
residents of formerly integrated communities now feel safe to
return to their old villages.

Slow Pace of Economic Development
--------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The PKRP activists highlighted economic development as
the second key factor. The 2001 Malino Declaration for Poso
sets out the path to recovery in its ten points. According to
one PKRP worker, the most destabilizing gaps are contained in
three points of the agreement: a) the right of property
ownership; b) the right of residents to return to their original
homes and; c) the intention that the government will restore
infrastructure and promote economic development. The timing,
specific mechanisms, and government bodies responsible for
implementing the declaration were not spelled out.

5. (SBU) PKRP workers said that corruption and inefficiency in
the Poso Regency is slowing disbursal of aid and increasing the
possibility of renewed violence. During a separate meeting,
Kamil Badrun, Chief Editor of Radar Sulteng (the area's major
newspaper), echoed this assessment, adding that progress on the
fundamentals, particularly legal reform and economic
development, will ensure a full recovery. Prof. Tahmidy
Lasahido of Tadulako University in Palu also highlighted the
importance of economic and educational opportunities for denying
radicalism a point of entry into the community. For Lasahido,
himself a participant in reconciliation efforts, targeting
outreach to ex-combatants is the surest means to forestall
future conflict.

Visible Signs of Progress Amid Reminders of Conflict
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (SBU) Construction of the Pondok Pesantren Ittihadul Ummah
Poso, a major Islamic boarding school in Tokorondo, Poso
Pesisir, appears nearly complete and ready for its scheduled

SURABAYA 00000013 002.2 OF 002


March 2008 opening. Pol/Econ Officer had previously viewed the
construction site in early November 2007 when only the frames
and foundations were visible. The cornerstone of this pesantren
was laid by President Yudhoyono in May 2007. Presidential
attention and funding has ensured that construction stays on
track. The school is intended to provide students with a
cost-free, ideologically moderate alternative to another area
pesantren was has been blamed for spreading radical ideology.
If Ittihadul Ummah is a bright spot along the coastal road,
charred and empty buildings visible nearly everywhere stand as
stark reminders that there is still a long way to go towards
normalcy.

7. (SBU) Poso residents told Pol/Econ officer said that
despite a sense of physical security, a sense of economic
stability has yet to return. While international aid
organizations and local NGOs carry out development projects and
local leaders seek large-scale investment, residents complain
that many small businesses, which predate the conflict, have yet
to receive the attention they deserve. Rows of shops in the
city of Poso remain empty, many burned and gutted, while still
others are abandoned and shuttered.

8. (SBU) Local shopkeepers said that the bulk of the empty shops
were owned by Sino-Indonesians who fled during the conflict and
have yet to return. According to the owner of one grocery, this
has provided an opportunity for local people to buy shops at
bargain prices. One hotel, burned and gutted during the
conflict, was owned by a Sino-Indonesian. The new owners from
nearby Palu, purchased the hotel at a bargain but are struggling
to find guests. Absentee owners, now living in Makassar,
Surabaya and Jakarta are reportedly waiting for the right time
to return. Residents and shop-owners speculated that both
absentee shop-owners and customers would return once they are
convinced that Poso is safe.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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