Report on Peace Symposium Held at UGM on 8 October 2014

Pengantar Redaksi:

Inilah catatan pidato Romo Charlie Burrows atau yang dikenal sebagai Romo Carolus OMI, pendiri dan penggerak utama Yayasan Sosial Bina Sejahtera (YSBS) di Cilacap. Atas izin beliau, kami membagikan naskah berharga ini untuk khalayak pembaca. Baca juga:   Central Java: Irish priest wins Islamic award


GAJAH Mada University is one of the most prestigious universities in Indonesia with a student population of 55.000 students and a staff of 6.000. For some years now the Post Graduate Faculty – Management of Infrastructure and Community Development (MICD) have collaborated with our NGO Yayasan Sosial Bina Sejahtera (YSBS – The Foundation To Bring A Bout Prosperity and Good Will) as the “Laboratory” for the MICD Faculty.

Groups of their students have come here on field trips – some students wrote their theses on YSBS Projects and we were asked to give some lectures, sit in on panels, curriculum development etc. The faculty also did an assessment of our Misereor Infrastructure Projects for years 2006 to 2012.

Hence when the Social Science Faculty of Gajah Mada University wished to hold a Peace Symposium to “Promote Peaceful and Inclusive Societies for sustainable Development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”, we were invited to speak as a n example of “Best Practice”.

The TOR (terms of reference) document stated “In Indonesia, a few society movements have indicated that differences can be seen a relational. For example a community development activity that is carried out by Fr. Carolus and YSBS foundation has expanded physical infrastructure and social services (e.g. road, health and educational buildings) in Kampung Laut, Cilacap. Additionally the access to this infrastructure is not limited to a particular group of religion, ethnicity, age and education”.

“From the discussion above the critical question then is ;- what lesson can be learned from this social movement above in regard to embracing differences? Could values that inspire. This movement be on alternative foundation for pluralism in Indonesia? What are the challenges that lie ahead for transforming these sporadic movements into a sustainable movement”.

The evening before the symposium, I was invited to a dinner sponsored by Dr. Ikhifar Ahmad Ayaz – Vice President of The Pacific Peace Forum, Senator World Nation Forum and a member of the United Nations working forum for the rights of Minorities.

I was asked to sit beside him at the dinner as he did not speak Indonesian and English was the language spoken. He was rather skeptical of all the talk forums on “peace” because as they say here NATO – No Action, Talk Only. Also the amount of money spent on such “Forums”.

This man was the first speaker at the Symposium and he talked in English. The second speaker – an Indonesian lady who had just retired as Minister For Women’s Affairs” in the Indonesian Gov. spoke in Indonesian and I explained as third speaker I would speak in Indonesian but with on Irish accent. As I had prepared handouts on YSBS. I talked of some co-operations between Religious groups on Inter Faith Committees e.g. during the economic crisis of 1999-2000 we set up Inter Faith Committees in 28 Regencies and together delivered food to 360.000 of the poorest people over 6 months with 27.000 tons of rice from the US via CRS Catholic Relief Services.

In the afternoon Prof. Suyoto Usman – head of MICD faculty, gave his talk on YSBS best practice in creating Social Capital, Social Cohesion, Community and Inter Faith Dialogue, which he had assessed, as head of the team, for Misereor’s Program with us from 2006 2012. he explained the program built roads, bridges, culverts dykes etc. in 75 villages during that period in 23 out of Cilacap 28 sub-regions, and how villagers, local government, all religions worked together in harmony to produce commendable results.

The Symposium was attended by + 300 people – lecturers, students, press corps and invited guests – a big percentage of whom were young people quite a few of whom asked to take photos together – lots of beautiful young ladies so “reluctedly”. I obliged!

As the T.O.R. stated we will see what happens next but M.I.C.D. students will continue to come here on field trips write their thesis etc. As Prof. Suyoto pointed out they stay at the Presbytery (Free of Charge) and say their Islam prayers under crosses, pictures of Our Lady etc.

Thanking you for your attention.



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