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Fear and Loathing in South Sumatra

Ethnic Violence between Balinese Migrants and Endemic Population in South Sumatra Claims 14 Lives

(11/4/2012) Ethnic violence against transmigrant Balinese living in the villages of Balinuraga and Sidoreno in South Lampung regency (Sumatra) has caused 1,500 people to flee as their homes came under attack by the endemic population.

The Balinese residents have taken temporary refuge in area halls and building, while police and military are patrolling the areas to prevent further clashes between the ethnic groups.

The Balinese began settling in South Sumatra in 1965 under a government-sponsored transmigration program. By and large, the Balinese have thrived in South Sumatra creating Bali-Hindu enclaves in South Sumatra. According to some reports, the Balinese newcome'rs economic dominance and relative success is one of the root causes of the current unrest.

Ethnic clashes over a three-day period from October 26-28, 2012 between the Hindu Balinese and native Lampung residents have left 14 people dead, 9 of who were Balinese. Hundreds of homes owned by the Balinese have been burned and looted.

Efforts by local officials to mediate a peace between the two groups have thus far come to naught, with some Moslem natives of South Lampung are demanding the Balinese leave their community. Local officials and police have rejected this demand, insisting the ethnic Balinese hold legal title to their homesteads and are fully entitled to live in the area.

Conditions in the temporary refugee camp established for the Balinese are said to be deteriorating.

Prominent Balinese and youth groups on Bali have begun to gather donations for the refugee families in South Lampung, with Bali governor Made Pastika planning to travel to South Sumatra to assess the situation of his fellow Balinese in the coming week.

Police in South Lampung, meanwhile, have yet to make any arrests in connection with the deaths and destruction at the two villages.