Today, we did presentations, by country. We had to present issues in our own country that relate to pluralism and development, also, we had to inform what our CSO/university have done concerning the issues, and, fears as well hopes upon the issues. India came first presenting identity issue and Muslim community, also raised gender inequality within either social relationship or marriage. Health issue was also touched as well. The Dutch raised issues of asylum seekers, what is being Dutch, and also presented what Geert Wilders said about Islamization, which was nicely imitated by Frank. I was intrigued by their statement, according to them, it was stated by the Royal Princess, saying that there is no Dutch identity. Conversation after lunch with them and Carolina Suransky, has given me a slight answer that being pluralistic is actually the identity. The South Africans presented issues on racism and racialism, homophobia (heterosexuals’ fear of being in close quarter with homosexuals) and xenophobia (unreasonable fear/distrust/hatred of strangers/foreigners). Uganda presented ethnic diversity celebrated through the pictures of several ethnic groups. They played short movie presenting several kinds of traditional art performances, dancing and music (i’d just love to have a little practice the hip movements). They also mentioned about human right abuses, massive corruption, influences in the government, and, how ethnicity that comes to a leadership position is not a good thing. We, Indonesian, were the last to present. We raised the issue of freedom as a consequence of a new democracy after the fall of Soeharto regime in 1998. Freedom of expressions embrace freedom of speech, cultural expression, and religious issues.
I shall point that today we were able to acknowledge issues that happen in these 5 countries. I, myself, did not know much about Uganda and South Africa, but today’s presentations have given me an important information about how xenophobia and homophobia have become such a national matter. I see that, we were quite aware of the problems that our own countries have dealing with. And we are here in search for possibilities and learn from each other on how we could contribute to alleviate the level of the issues. I just can’t wait for tomorrow...
Dewi Cahya Ambarwati (CRCS-UGM, Indonesia)
A video by Hivos and Kennisland