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Insidious Discrimination

Balinese Diaspora Targeted by Ethnic Violence Outbreaks on Sumbawa Island

(1/27/2013) Widespread civil unrest broke out on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, in Sumbawa Besar on the island of Sumbawa, east of Bali.

According to The Bali Post, by the weekend following the unrest the thousands of people who fled from rioting were beginning to return to their homes from temporary refugee centers on Bali and neighboring hillsides. Gde Supanca, a local resident in Sumbawa, confirmed conditions were beginning to return to normal.

During the day of violent civil unrest, angry crowds attacked businesses and places of worship owned by Balinese living in Sumbawa.

Pura Puseh-Bale Agung – a religious temple at Kayu Village was partially burnt by a Molotov cocktail thrown into the compound.  Damage to the temple, however, was limited when those living near the temple – many of them non-Hindus –responding to extinguish the fire before it could spread.

Stores, local hotel and cars owned by Balinese migrants to Sumbawa, were damaged or destroyed in the rioting that was precipitated by a traffic mishap involving a Balinese policeman and a female university student in Sumbawa Besar. Incorrect rumors suggesting the woman, who died in the accident, was beaten and raped by the policeman spread through the community and helped fuel public unrest.

The provincial government has pledged to repair all structures damaged in the rioting and compensate any belongs or inventory lost to looting or fires.

The chairman of the Indonesia Red Cross (PMI Pusat) and former Indonesian vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, visited Sumbawa on January 26th where he urged families to return to their homes by January 28th and resume their normal lives. At the same time, Kalla called on the police to do all necessary to ensure people feel safe and secure in their homes.

Police in Sumbawa have reportedly made more than 30 arrests of individuals known to have participated in the public unrest.

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