By Naomi Yakawich
Recent violence by extremists in Indonesia in the form of riots and suicide bombings in Mako Brimob Kelapa Dua Jakarta spurred the creation of the Bincang Damai Nusantara (Nusantara Peace Talk), a program organized by young people with Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Indonesia to increase awareness and tolerance of religious diversity and to prevent extremism among youth.
“There needs to be a common awareness to maintain the unity in diversity that exists in Indonesia,” said one young person. Interfaith dialogue, especially among young people in Indonesia, is a powerful practice in strengthening tolerance and greater cooperation in its pluralistic society. The rise of fake news and the increasingly thin knowledge of the younger generation on Indonesian values ranging from cultural heritage, language, traditions, and local wisdom makes the country more vulnerable to the massive spread of extreme radicalism.
The first Nusantara Peace Talk program took place on May 19 building a space for young people to share their stories and experiences of tolerance and diversity in their communities as it relates to Indonesia’s principles of democracy. Based on Indonesia’s motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), the peace talk program draws on Indonesian noble values, called Pancasila, to promote collaboration among younger generations to strengthen their sense of national identity and the rich diversity that makes their nation great.
Participants shared their stories over a meal and engaged in traditional performances and musical recitals. Some even came prepared with their written poetry on tolerance.
Ulfi, a young Muslim woman, attended the program. Though cautious at first, she later gladly shared her feelings of relief, saying that she felt a “sense of space and calm” being able to meet people who respect religious differences with the end goal of peace.
Saverius Jena is a Catholic student studying in Jakarta. Quick to make friends with Muslim students, Saverius commented on the simple act of sharing meals together. “Rice is a medium that brings us together,” he said, going on to explain that the deep conversations with his Muslim friends convinced him that no matter what some outlying extremists from any religion do, their religions fundamentally teach goodness.
"This program is designed to be a movement to create relief of sharing, especially tolerance among young people to get to know and understand each other. More than that, we also want to continue to preserve the noble values of Indonesia by documenting and publishing those stories later. This program will be done in other big cities in the near future, "said Novan Dwi Andhika, Program Manager for GPF Indonesia.
GPF Indonesia hopes to replicate the peace talk program in other regions throughout the country.