by Manon Michelle Monhemius and Yofrina Octika Gultom
The Indonesian trustbuilding project recently launched with around 100 people joining either in-person or online. How did the launch go? And why is the team’s trustbuilding work needed more than ever in Indonesia?
Why Indonesia is in need of trustbuilding
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, is facing a wave of intolerance and divides among religions, ethnicities, and social economies. There is violent extremism that threatens young men and women which is incubated at home and inside formal institutions. An extreme form of intolerance is seen in recent past terrorist attacks, like in Makassar, South Sulawesi province, on 28 March (Palm Sunday), where an explosion from a suicide attack outside of a Catholic church wounded many people. Similar incidents have occurred, carried out by sympathizers of ISIL (ISIS). Around 700 Indonesians have joined ISIS in Syria , some of whom have returned to Indonesia.
Despite these threats, Indonesian democracy has made impressive progress, which needs to be maintained in their national election in 2024. This makes it a strategically relevant moment to put extra energy and time into working with young people to strengthen the mission of living in peace and harmony.
The focus of the trustbuilding project is in the areas where IofC Indonesia has previously organized trustbuilding activities; in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Jayapura and Makassar. All participants of the previous trustbuilding camps are invited to join the team’s trainings to become trustbuilders. The team has worked extensively with both Christians and Muslims in the past, and actively involves people of other faiths as well.
Inspirational stories shared by peace advocates
The launch took place at Jagat Arsy World Civilization Islamic boarding school and online. People discussed the project and the topic of “Heal the past, hope for the future”. Different speakers were invited to share their thoughts during the launch. Like Dr. Dino Pati Djalal, former Indonesian ambassador to the United States and founder of 1000 Abrahamic Circle Project, an independent and grassroots international interfaith peace effort that aims to bring together Islamic, Christian and Jewish faith leaders globally. Dr. Djalal pointed out how important it is to build trust among communities/groups in order to create peace among them. The trustbuilding project team has since spoken to Dr. Djalal and are making plans to work together on youth interfaith activities.
An impressive story was shared by Febri Ramdani, author at RuangObrol and writer of a book titled 300 Hari di Bumi Syam. The book was written to share his experience of becoming part of ISIS. ‘In 2016, I made a decision to move to Syria and live under Islamic state. With lots of struggle, I was so grateful that my family and I could return to Indonesia.’ ‘I used to trust a single source of information about ISIS and it made me become trapped with that group.’ Febri also shared that ‘it was important to have media literacy skills in order to understand and respond to terror news and stop the virus of disinformation. Also, to build trust, we need to come together and unite as human-beings.’
Amongst the speakers was also Inaya Wahid, daughter of the late 4th president of the Republic of Indonesia, Abdurahman Wahid also known as Gus Dur. He was an Indonesian Muslim religious and political leader. Inaya is the founder of Positive Movement and Jaringan Gusdurian, a movement that is actively trying to continue the work of strengthening the civil and democratic movements that her father fought for. 'Through my father’s journey, I learnt a lot about strengthening civilian and democratic values. He made a big effort to promote inter-religious relations and preserving peace in Indonesia within a democratic country.’
The session ended with an interfaith prayer by Priest Binsar Pakpahan and Ozy Fahrurozy, both dear friends of IofC Indonesia. For the participants who joined the session in person, they had fast breaking together at the venue, as the launch of the project took place during the Ramadan.
The launch presented several important contacts and leads that the TBP team are working on.
The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France, and in 2021 Australia, Indonesia, Nepal and South Africa have joined as well.