Sampit conflict

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Sampit conflict was an outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in Indonesia, beginning in February 2001 and lasting throughout the year. The conflict started in the town of Sampit, Central Kalimantan Province, and spread throughout the province, including the capital, Palangkaraya. The conflict was between the indigenous Dayak people and the migrant Madurese from the island of Madura off Java.[1]

The conflict broke out on February 18, 2001 when two Madurese were attacked by a number of Dayaks.[2] The conflict resulted in more than 500 deaths, with over 100,000 Madurese displaced from their homes.[3] Hundreds of Madurese were also found to be decapitated by the Dayaks.[4]


The Sampit conflict in 2001 was not an isolated incident, as there had been previous incidents of violence between the Dayaks and the Madurese. The last major conflict occurred between December 1996 and January 1997, and resulted in more than 600 deaths.[5] The Madurese first arrived in Borneo in 1930 under the transmigration program initiated by the Dutch colonial administration, and continued by the Indonesian government.[6] In 1999, Malays and Dayaks joined together in Kalimantan in Indonesia to persecute and massacre Madurese during the Sambas conflict. Madurese were mutilated, raped, and killed by the Malays and Dayaks and 3,000 of them died in the massacres, with the Indonesian government doing little to stop the violence.[7]

In 2000, transmigrants made up 21% of the population in Central Kalimantan.[3] The Dayaks came into competition with the highly visible and industrious Madurese and in places like Sampit the Madurese quickly dominated low-level sectors of the economy, which negatively affected the Dayaks' employment prospects.[8] Additionally, new laws had allowed the Madurese to assume control of many commercial industries in the province, such as logging, mining, and plantations.[3]

There are a number of stories purportedly describing the incident that sparked the violence in 2001. One version claims that it was caused by an arson attack on a Dayak house. Rumours spread that the fire was caused by Madurese, and later a group of Dayaks began burning houses in a Madurese neighborhood.[5]

Professor Usop of the Dayak People's Association claims that the massacres by the Dayaks were in self-defense, after Dayaks were attacked.[9] It was claimed that a Dayak was tortured and killed by a gang of Madurese following a gambling dispute in the nearby village of Kerengpangi on December 17, 2000.[10]

Another version claims that the conflict started in a brawl between students of different races at the same school.[11]

Decapitations of Madurese[edit]

At least 300 Madurese were decapitated by the Dayaks during the conflict. The Dayaks have a long history in the ritual practice of headhunting, though the practice was thought to have gradually died out in the early 20th century as it was discouraged by the Dutch colonial rulers.[9][12]

Response by authorities[edit]

The scale of the massacre and intensity of the aggression made it difficult for the military and the police to control the situation in Central Kalimantan. Reinforcements were sent in to help existing military personnel in the province. By February 18, the Dayaks assumed control over Sampit.[13]

Police arrested a local official believed to have been one of the masterminds behind the attacks. The masterminds are suspected of paying six men to provoke the riot in Sampit. The police also arrested a number of Dayak rioters following the initial murder spree.[14]

A few days later, on February 21, thousands of Dayaks surrounded a police station in Palangkaraya demanding the release of Dayak detainees. The Indonesian police succumbed to this demand given that they were vastly outnumbered by the aggressive Dayaks. By February 28, the Indonesian military had managed to clear the Dayaks off the streets and restore order,[15] but sporadic violence continued throughout the year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rinakit, Sukardi (2005). The Indonesian Military After the New Order. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. ISBN 87-91114-06-3.
  2. ^ Singh, Daljit; Anthony L. Smith; Chia Siow Yue (2003). Southeast Asian Affairs 2002. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 981-230-162-3.
  3. ^ a b c "Indonesia flashpoints: Kalimantan". BBC. June 28, 2004. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  4. ^ "Horrors of Borneo massacre emerge". BBC. February 27, 2001. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Indonesia: The Violence in Central Kalimantan (Borneo)". Human Rights Watch. February 28, 2001. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  6. ^ Tri Nuke Pudjiastuti (June 2002). "Immigration and Conflict in Indonesia" (PDF). IUSSP Regional Population Conference, Bangkok. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 11, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Rochman, Achwan; Hari, Nugroho; Dody, Prayogo; Suprayoga, Hadi (2005). Overcoming Violent Conflict: Peace and Development Analysis in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and Madura (PDF). Jakarta, Indonesia: United Nations Development Programme. pp. 11–12. ISBN 979-99878-2-2. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Kalimantan's Agony: The failure of Transmigrasi". CNN. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  10. ^ Elegant, Simon (March 5, 2001). "The Darkest Season". Time. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  11. ^ "Interim Report of KONTRAS Fact Finding into the Causes of the Sampit Tragedy". Kontras. Archived from the original on May 18, 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  12. ^ "Beheading: A Dayak ritual". BBC. February 23, 2001. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  13. ^ "Chronology of violence in Central Kalimantan". Indahnesia. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  14. ^ "Chronology of violence in Central Kalimantan". Indahnesia. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  15. ^ "Chronology of violence in Central Kalimantan". Indahnesia. Retrieved August 13, 2008.