Religious cooperation pacifies Ambon
A fellow journalist Uni Lubis, chief editor of Anteve and a member of the Indonesian Press Council, said two days before Ramadan (the fasting month for Muslim) she had trained some journalists in Ambon about how to cover conflict and peace journalism. So we can imagine that if there is no such training for journalists in a conflict zone, the media could even worsen the situation.
Understanding "the Prodrome"
There are some lessons to learn from Ambon.
The incident at Gunung Nona that ignited the clash did not happen in a historical vacuum. An atmosphere of suspicion is still alive in Ambon because, of course, it is difficult for people to forget the wounds from the last conflict.
Before this latest clash erupted, there was an incident in the State University of Pattimura (the largest university in that province) related to the admissions of new students. One group claimed that the number of admissions was not balanced between the Christians and Muslims, even though everybody understand that the admission test was conducted by a national committee in Jakarta, and not by the local committee.
In crisis management, such event is called a "prodrome", that is, an early sign of impending crisis that could move a crisis to the next stage. The term originates in medical science, where it refers to the initial symptoms that would indicate the onset of a disease.
Thus, the events of September 11 in Ambon, coinciding with the 10-year commemoration of 9/11 in the United States, is a valuable exercise for all of us. Now we in Indonesia realize that the wounds from a decade ago in Ambon are still not healed. We must invest extra effort to encourage the two communities to unite. The role of civil society and social media in preventing an escalation of this latest clash is a good example of the power of this kind of alliance.
Kristanto Hartadi is senior editor of Sinar Harapan, a daily newspaper published in Jakarta.