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«“Art as a catalyst in building reconciliation-building peace in war-torn Sri Lanka | Main | Peace building experiences in Indonesia and Japan (Vol. 2)»
Peace building experiences in Indonesia and Japan [2011年04月22日(Fri)]
Peace building experiences in Indonesia and Japan—chatting
with grass –root experts and the political level.

Bakubae—the story of a community based movement for peace
and reconciliation in the Ambon/Maluku conflict, Indonesia

Interview with Dadang Trisasongko, attorney and peace builder in
the Ambon conflict... Advisor to the Partnership for Governance
Reform. Jakarta. Indonesiawww. kemitraan.or.id

Introduction.
The island of Ambon in the Indonesian archipelago, was torn
apart when a conflict erupted in 1999 between the two main
religious groups, Christian Protestant and Muslim.. Ironically,
the origin of the conflict began quite simply—a fight between
youth in the local market—but its downward trajectory
engulfed the island and its surrounding inlands. The brutal
violence—killings, rape and burning—from January to April
1999 and later in June between neighbor to neighbor
belonging to the two religious groups that included the southern
Muluku province.. Many refugees, mostly Muslim, fled the fighting
to South Sulawesi. Analysts, such as Dadang, point to tinder box
local conditions that spawned the communal violence in Ambon.
In this interview, Dadang, the committed peace builder, talks
about how the conflict was triggered not just by pure bigotry
or religious strife but has also its root causes in discri-
minatory state policies, long-term corruption and interference
by the central government in societies that elite national
politicians with their own stakes, do not even attempt to under-
stand. In Ambon, for example, employment among the urban
population is heavily dependent on the civil service and contract
work for the government, a system that calls for the “right
connections” with influential parliamentarians, eading to rivalry
and frustration between the communities.
Dadang is a founder member of the BakuBae movement that
sprang up as a grass-root initiative to bring peace when the au-
thorities failed. The movement is based on the concept of help-
ing society to resolve their disputes in peaceful ways. BakuBae
employs peace building measures for religious leaders, conflict
victims and conflict doers in the local community who hold
meetings to discuss violence and are guided by a variety of facili-
tators.

Q. When did you form the BakuBae movement and what does it
mean?
Dadang: BakuBae means, literally, “be on good terms with each
other” and was set-up to stop the violence in Mollucan society
that is Ambon and its surrounding inlands. The ultimate aim is
gaining peace by being aware of the spirit of peace in the
community. Fundamentally, the movement empowers people to
manage conflict by identifying unfair social systems that cause’s
violence and then eliminating them. Six months after the Ambon
conflict, we established the BakuBae with people—scholars,
lawyers, journalists, youth and religious leaders-- who wanted to
do something to stop the violence. Peace building through Baku
Bae must be local initiatives and involve both religious sides—
Christians and Muslims. The first BakuBae meeting was conduct-
ed when we brought five community leaders from both religions
to sit together in Jakarta. The group represented the local fight-
ers, churches, mosques, and community organizations and they
spent ten days with facilitators. Our aim was to clarify the conflict
by putting on the table such issues as identifying the actual the
predators and reasons for people are attacking each other. The
meeting discussed unfair social and economic policies as the
root causes and ended in an agreement or an action plan that we
took to the Indonesian President who had already demonstrated,
by then, that he was incapable of controlling the violence. We
then proceed to carry out our own BakuBae meetings between
affected communities with the firm belief that peace and
harmony must originate from the voices of victims.

Q. Such a process must have been extremely difficult given the
bitterness of the conflict that was still simmering between the
people. Can you give us some examples of breakthrough?
Dadang: Yes, the reconciliation process is always difficult and
takes time but this challenge that must be dealt with if there is
to be lasting peace. The BakuBe process was conducted several
years starting with the immediate need to end violence, then
building people`s capacity to understand the conflict, negotiation
and finally empowerment through small economic activities and
reconstruction which is still going on this year.
Our first meetings made sure to include the refugees who had
fled the violence. Their experiences were crucial in the peace
building process based on the goals of BakuBae which is to
forgive and build solidarity. Our meetings were small and held at
diverse points in Ambon. The meetings invited affected women
as well. A key breakthrough in these meetings was when we guid-
ed discussions on peace as benefiting the children. We talked of
how ending violence can pave the way for schools to remain open
to help children to be better educated, maintain security and also
to protect religious values and customs. These arguments made
sense to the local communities especially as Ambon is still a
rural society and people respect their cultural values deeply.
Youth meetings were held separately to foster closer commu-
nication between the same age groups that belonged to different
religions.
In the end, we distributed agreements that were signed by the
participants after they has discussed and identified their own
peace building programs. Journalist meetings were also held to
share with them information that showed the two sides of
violence or clarify what they needed. These meetings were also
extended to the mainstream media in Jakarta because we
needed their support for our meetings and goals. Of course,
sometimes we ran into trouble when gangs attacked us in the
conflict areas because they suspected out intentions.
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