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Cablegate: West Nusa Tenggara: Life for Lombok's Ahmadiyah Sect Changes

VZCZCXRO3061
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0119/01 2980718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240718Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0312
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0152
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0317
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0048
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0297

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000119

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, DRL/IRF, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ID KIRF PHUM
SUBJECT: WEST NUSA TENGGARA: LIFE FOR LOMBOK'S AHMADIYAH SECT CHANGES
LITTLE FOLLOWING MINISTERIAL EDICT

REF: A. A JAKARTA 1459 (FEW REPORTS OF PRESSURE AFTER EDICT)
B. SURABAYA 68 (AHMADIYAH SEEKS POLTICAL ASYLUM IN BALI)
C. 07 SURABAYA 42 (LOMBOK'S AHMADIYAH)

SURABAYA 00000119 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: During an October 16 visit by Office of
International Religious Freedom (IRF) representative and
Surabaya Pol/Econ Officer to Mataram, Ahmadiyah refugees
described their difficult living conditions and frustrations
trying to generate government action to improve their situation.
Despite a June 9 Joint Ministerial Edict (SKB) against the sect
(Ref A), little has changed in their daily lives. The election
of a new governor -- a respected Islamic teacher -- has not had
much impact on the Ahmadi's plight. The local government has
yet to provide basic services or permission to return home. The
SKB appears to have reinforced the local government's
inclination to view resolving the plight of the Ahmadis as a
central government responsibility. Press coverage of the visit
was generally factual, but noted the potential for future asylum
requests. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On October 16, Surabaya Pol/Econ Officer, Pol/Econ
Assistant and IRF's Clarissa Adamson visited the Ahmadiyah camp
at Transito, in the city of Mataram, the provincial capital of
West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), on Lombok island. Currently 138
Ahmadiyah followers are living in the Transito camp -- an urban
dormitory used for internal migrants. Another 57 people are
staying in the nearby Praya Camp. Twenty people moved to
Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, two months ago. In Lombok most
Ahmadis work in the agriculture and informal sectors as traders,
street vendors, domestic helpers, etc. The Transito refugees
have been informed by the local government that limited food
subsidies will end in December 2008.

Still Waiting for Guidance

3. (SBU) Local or provincial governments have yet to produce
written guidance for public officials in the wake of the SKB
regarding Ahmadiyah followers in Transito camp. The community's
leaders told us that the refugees cannot return to their home
village as at least three local officials (the regent of West
Lombok, the head of the Lingsar district, and the head of
Gegerungan Village) insist that they will not be safe there.
The Ahmadis observed that the SKB has increased the existing
tendency of the local government to ignore their plight and
shift responsibility to the central government.

4. (SBU) The Ahmadis complained that few people seemed to
understand that the joint edict did not outlaw Ahmadiyah; it
simply prohibited Ahmadiyah from proselytizing. If given a
guarantee of physical security and allowed to return to their
home villages in Lombok, Ahmadiyah leaders in Transito said they
would gladly return home without additional assistance from the
government. According to the Transito Ahmadis, the government
still refused to issue National ID cards, which are central to
every Indonesian's access to social and political benefits.
Ahmadis have also been denied welfare cards, which would allow
them to collect benefits as refugees. Officials reportedly tell
them that the absence of a fixed address prevents them from
getting identity cards and letters confirming that they are
destitute refugees. Transito Ahmadi's told us they suspect the
real reason is because they are Ahmadiyah followers.

Positive Local Developments

5. (SBU) While the SKB has cast a shadow over the future of the
Transito Ahmadiyah community, its followers claim good relations
with local people and even some local officials. One local
official from the provincial Religious Affairs Department

SURABAYA 00000119 002.2 OF 002


recently officiated at two Ahmadiyah marriage ceremonies at
Transito. The officials attended the ceremony, recorded the
marriages, and issued marriage certificates. In the past, the
provincial government issued certificates without sending
representatives. Two months ago, Ahmadiyah sent a letter to the
newly elected governor requesting a meeting specifically to
discuss their legal and social status, but have yet to receive a
response. The Ahmadis noted that the new governor has distant
relations within the community and has not criticized Ahmadiyah
publicly.

Press Coverage

6. (U) The USG visit to Transito was covered by the local
newspaper Lombok Pos and its parent Jawa Pos on October 18. A
generally factual report stated that the U.S. Consulate
representatives were interested in understanding the living
conditions of the refugees. The article noted complaints by the
refugees about conditions in the camp and stated that the
refugees were interested in asylum in the U.S. should they no
longer be accepted by their own country. TVOne television news
also broadcast a report on the visit nationally.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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