Published: 11:00 GMT Standard Time - Monday 12 March 2012
Christians win legal challenge brought by Muslims for village in Indonesia
Country/Region: South and East Asia, Indonesia
Indonesian Christians have won a lengthy legal battle over the ownership of their village against neighbouring Muslims who had virtually razed it to the ground in 2008.
Barnabas Fund helped finance the reconstruction of Horale
Horale in Maluku province, Indonesia, was destroyed in an attack by a Muslim mob from the neighbouring village of Saleman on 2 May 2008. They burnt down 120 houses, three churches and the village school, and destroyed 15 hectares of crops. Four Christians were killed and 56 injured in the onslaught.
One week after the incident, Muslims from Saleman brought a legal challenge over the ownership of Horale, claiming that the land was part of their territory. The case was first heard at county level, where a Muslim is the head of the government. Despite evidence in support of the Horale Christians, the court ruled in favour of the Saleman villagers.
The Christians appealed to the provincial court, which overturned the verdict, prompting the Muslims to take the matter to the Supreme Court. It has now ruled that the ten square miles in question rightfully belong to the Christian residents. Had they lost the case, they would have had to leave the village with nowhere else to go.
Barnabas Fund helped the Horale Christians, who are low-earning farmers, with the legal costs.
Villagers helped to rebuild their homes
We have also helped finance the reconstruction of the village, which is now home to around 150 families (900 individuals). Funds were used to turn 106 semi-permanent houses provided by the government in the aftermath of the attack into permanent homes, and to build 14 new properties for those who had none.
We assisted in rebuilding the three damaged churches and also provided other resources for the villagers, including rice and electricity.
The attack in May 2008 forced the Christian villagers to flee to the jungle. Now that their properties have been rebuilt and their right to Horale has been established, they hope to be left to resume their lives in peace.