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Home > Horror News > Eastern Horror News > Indonesian Witch Hunt
Indonesian Witch Hunt
By: RSS/News Feeds

Witch doctors carry some weight in Indonesian villages

Police in Indonesia have arrested 22 people over the killing of 20 villagers accused of being witch doctors, it has emerged.
The victims died in a spate of attacks between July and October, reportedly by a groups of vigilantes after locals had accused them of practising witchcraft.

Police spokesman Sri Widodo said four suspects were arrested in Cianjur, West Java province (100km from Jakarta), on Friday.

They follow the arrests in October of 18 others, he said.

Detectives denied reports that the bodies of the alleged sorcerers or shamans – known as dukun in Indonesia – were found decomposing and hanging from trees.

A report on Friday said an 18-year-old trekker had found 20 bodies hanging in a valley near Cianjur.

The detectives told Associated Press news agency that all the victims were found after they had been attacked.

‘Un-Islamic’ rites

There have been a spate of attacks in the last two years on alleged witch doctors by locals who believe their traditional medicine and magic to be un-Islamic.

“It’s a very superstitious country, and people believe in spirits, good and bad,” said Michael Leifer, the director of the London School of Economics’ Asia Research Centre.

“With the fall in law and order… the decline of living standards, [one] can easily whip up popular hysteria.”

He suggested there could be a political connection behind the killings.

He said during the rule of President Suharto, a group called the ‘ninjas’, who claimed to be witches and wore black, would “appear mysteriously and kill members of a conservative Islamic group”.

Although the great majority of Indonesians are Muslims, many people still follow pre-Islamic traditions and the dukun still carry some weight in communities.

Some act as shaman, following traditional beliefs in spirits, while others simply dispense traditional cures for illnesses.

Similar practices are also found in Malaysia, where witch doctors are known as bomoh.

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