Culturally and historically, the Dayak don’t sit down and take what they’re given. So the Dayak started butchering the Madurese whenever they could. Beheading them en masse. Throughout the 90’s there were hundreds of deaths.
This violence between the Dayak and Madurese peaked in February 2001 when there was a massacre in the city of Sampit which spread throughout the region. Dayak wandered the streets, dragging people from their cars and butchering them with machetes. More than 500 Madurese were hacked up and/or decapitated leading to a mass exodus of more than 100,000 Madurese from Borneo. Men, women and children were all butchered with little or no interference by the state. Eventually armed forces were sent in to calm the bedlam, but the damage had been done.
The murder and subsequent departure of the Madurese has settled the region’s conflict to a degree, but emotions still run high and it won’t take a lot to reignite the aggression. The head hunters of Dayak are fiercely independent and even more fiercely primitive. They rule themselves from within their emerald cocoon. Woe betide anyone who interferes.
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