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Fr Tissa Balasuriya: Memories and Challenges for today

Edited English text of Fr. Tissa Balasuriya 5th death anniversary Memorial Oration, delivered in Sinhalese, on 17th January 2018, at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR), Colombo) 

By Ruki Fernando

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. Even though I had not known or worked closely with Fr Tissa as some others here. I constantly think of and miss two of my mentors in activism. One is Fr. Tissa. And it’s humbling to speak about such a visionary, committed and simple man. Who I called a  Loving and Gentle Rebel.

I had first met him when I was in the Young Christian Students (YCS) Movement. We used to come to CSR, to borrow materials and equipment. Amongst the videos that Fr Tissa lent us, and left a lasting impression, was the video about Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvadore, who was assassinated for his uncompromising positions and harsh criticisms of an authoritarian regime.

Fr. Tissa had been the 1st Asia Pacific Chaplain of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS). Mentored by visionary and committed chaplains like him, many Catholic student leaders in Asia have gone on to become activists. It’s sad that we don’t have many chaplains like him today. I’m not sure whether anyone from Sri Lanka’s Catholic Students movement is interested in Fr Tissa’s life, work and thoughts and whether anyone is here today to reflect about these.

I continued my association with Fr. Tissa after my YCS life. Going with him to slums in Colombo shocked me. Discussions about liberation theology and social analysis was difficult to follow, but exiting. Few years before he died, he cautioned me to be careful knowing imminent threats I was facing. Later he invited me to stay with him with an assurance he will protect me.

There are many more memories, and it’s easy to get carried away and talk about these. But I will try restrain myself from that temptation. And try to approach the much more difficult, and overwhelming task of reflecting about his life, work and about carrying forward his vision in a way that’s relevant today. I will share my reflections under 3 areas.

1. Fr. Tissa in society, with a vision of a church that was part of society

Fr. Tissa was a Catholic Priest. But in context where many Priests and Catholic leaders were and are distant from society and day to day issues faced by people, Fr Tissa remained firmly rooted in society. His Christian faith and Priesthood appeared to have motivated and pushed him to be a man of and man in society. He had become intimately involved in struggles for social justice and human rights. He initiated, supported and joined social movements. His interests and writings have covered an amazing variety of issues – feminism, women’s rights, worker’s rights, urban poverty, Malaiyaha Tamils (especially those working and living in estates), ethnic conflict and reconciliation, global warming etc. Connecting such issues to Spirituality and Christian faith had come naturally to him and was non-negotiable. He consistently and passionately condemned capitalism and didn’t shy away from asserting that ideals of socialism can identify with Christian faith and his left leanings.

He emphasized the use of social analysis for theology and insisted that “In the absence of a systemic analysis persons of goodwill can be unwittingly used by the powers that be for their benefit. Thus they are persuaded to consider their task as to take care of the victims of the exploitative system, to ensure continuity of the power system, to legitimize the prevailing exploitative order and to prevent or contain dissent leading to revolt. Social workers promoting these causes will be given an honourable place in society, and respected when they do not contest the greed and injustice of the dominant”.

He didn’t fail to identify how religious institutions and traditions, especially the Church, which he remained part of till death, had been part of and promoted oppressive practices and traditions, within Church life and in society.

“Liberation” was a word that he had used often. Three of his well-known books were “Jesus and Human Liberation”, “Mary and Human Liberation” and “Eucharist and Human Liberation”. A series of publications by CSR under Fr. Tissa was named “Vimukthi Prakashana” or “Liberation Publications”. Women’s rights, women’s liberation, feminism and the ethnic conflict related topics were covered regularly by this series of booklets. One was provocatively titled “A political solution or military solution?” The series also dealt with host of other issues, such as multinational corporations and liberation, rural socialist liberation, fisherfolk in Negombo, farmers, white paper on education, free trade zone, tourism, Colombo Municipal Council and housing problem, transport service and Ceylon Transport Board (CTB), Mahaweli development project, challenges in cinema, censorship board and the 1971 constitution.

Contextual Theology – or Theology that was relevant to social – economic – political context at a particular time in a particular place – was key element of liberation theology that Fr. Tissa lived and promoted. One of his lesser known work is on Theology concerning ethnicity. As far back as 1986, he wrote, “A theology related Sri Lanka must relate to life here. Since ethnic relations are dominant factor in Sri Lankan life today, contemporary theology in Sri Lanka must have ethnicity as one of it’s most significant dimensions”.

2. From Contextual Theology to Planetary Theology and Globalization of Solidarity

Fr. Tissa appeared to have tried to go beyond contextual theology in writing about “Planetary Theology” – title of one of his most famous and oldest books published in 1984, the Sinhala translation of which is being launched today. Globalization of Solidarity was one of his latter books, published in 2000.

Although Fr Tissa had grappled with day to day problems facing different communities in Sri Lanka, from slums in Colombo, to free trade zone and ethnic conflict, he also grappled with world problems. His writings regularly and harshly condemned colonization and advocated for recognition and restitution, acknowledging that “even in recent times (2010) it is difficult to even discuss the question of compensation and restitution for long term colonial exploitation of peoples by persons, companies and countries”. To him, world trade was about transferring resources from the poor to the rich. “World Apartheid” was a word that he used regularly to talk about past and ongoing global injustices by western countries towards other parts of the world.

According to him, “in the history of the world the colonial adventure of the European (Christian) peoples constitutes one of the greatest robberies, genocides and abuse of power by a set of human beings and nations. The Church and Christians have been not only involved in this genocide, but have encouraged it and benefited from it”. He had also stated that “the reform of international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO, the democratization of the UNO and its security Council and the strengthening of the powers of the UN General Assembly are also needed for dealing with these problems. The whole unjust world order, built up by 500 years of Western colonization, must be reformed to have world justice”.

According to Fr. Tissa, local action is not a remedy for global problems and “given the global nature of the present challenges to life, contextual theologies alone, however well developed and essential for the context, are not adequate to inspire liberative action that has also to be global”.

For him, “human solidarity in the context of present day globalization necessitates a radical transformation of the world order and relationships among peoples in the direction of sharing of resources and caring for all. In addition to changes at the national and regional levels, there has to be transformations at the world”.

He argued that “The genuinely universal dimensions of Christian theology may be said to be those elements of theology that have a bearing on all reality, or at least on the whole planet earth and all humanity of all time and space”. He went on to elaborate that such universal dimensions would include:

·         Humanity, the human condition in its universal characteristics

·         Male and female, though different, equal in rights and dignity

·         The cosmos, especially the planet earth available, with its limited resources, for all humanity & the planet’s ecology as common essential source of life and hence of concern for all humans, present and future

·         Recognition that each group of humans has a history and a religio-cultural background of its own, which is a universal factor that makes for particularity and different contexts for theology

3. Reflecting on taking forward Fr. Tissa’s life and work – especially for CSR & Oblates

I realize now that Fr. Tissa was one of first Oblates I had met. He probably didn’t realize how far that relationship will go. We have organized and attended seminars, exhibitions, visited war ravaged areas during and after war, been together at the UN in New York and Geneva, at street protests in Colombo, Kilinochchi and elsewhere.

CSR, founded by Fr. Tissa in 1971, has been an important part of my life and that of many activists. CSR had offered it’s meeting spaces when other centers refused to host us. We faced rampaging monks together in this very hall at CSR. When I couldn’t find anyone else to offer shelter for those in fear of their lives, I turned to CSR. After Fr. Praveen (another Oblate) and I were detained by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), some activists and friends, including priests, didn’t want to welcome the two of us, so we turned to CSR.

So I hope CSR can play a bigger role in human rights and social justice activism. This will be possible only if it’s backed fully by Oblates, especially it’s leadership. It is heartening that Oblates have taken on themselves to continue the work at CSR. I must also mention Oblates taking forward the work at Suba Seth Gedera in Buttala, initiated by another Oblate, Fr Michel Rodrigo. These two centres, have the potential to become central places for social justice and rights struggles.

I want to highlight three broad areas, which Fr Tissa had dealt with, for consideration by Oblates and CSR, to have deeper involvement:

i.                    Ethnic conflict and post war issues

Though the war is over, we are still not at peace, and remain polarized along ethnic lines. A political solution to the ethnic conflict, truth and justice in relation to disappeared, political prisoners, land and right to remember war dead are just some of major challenges confronting us. I believe CSR has a fairly strong Sinhalese constituency, and thus well placed to play such a role, but I feel it will have to do more outreach to Tamils and Muslims.

ii.                  Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Today in Sri Lanka, civil society is polarized whether economic, social and cultural rights should be given equal status to civil and political rights and whether they should be recognized as justiciable rights in the constitution. Fr. Tissa’s repeated and ominous warnings about evils of capitalism and neo-liberal economic and development agendas are visible before our eyes and ears today, affecting economic, social and cultural rights. Across the country, there are struggles being waged by workers, fisherfolk, farmers, and students. For land, for free and quality health care and education and against mega development projects such as Port City and Uma Oya. Fr. Tissa’s friend and colleague, Fr. Michale Rodrigo, was killed 30 years ago while he was fighting for rights and dignity of peasant’s in Buttala, and these challenges remain. Fr. Tissa had insisted that “rights of people cannot be ensured and fostered today without a struggle against the evil aspects of capitalistic globalization. A critical analysis of globalization, (within such global apartheid) and a reflection based on the religious and spiritual values of humanity would lead to an option for the genuine development and liberation of the people, especially the poor”.

iii.                Feminism, Women’s rights, Gender and Sexuality

The Catholic Church, along with other religious institutions, dominated by male clerics, has often been on the wrong side of rights and dignity of women and people with different gender identities and sexual orientations. Fr. Tissa was one who appeared to be an exception. I’m highlighting this, even though I’m not confident Oblates will want to take up this challenge. According to Fr Tissa, mother of Jesus, Mary, “was not seen as one who was deeply concerned with the rights of others and opposed to exploitation of all types. Marian spirituality had an effect of de-radicalizing the revolutionary message of the gospel.” Today in Sri Lanka, there are debates about abortion and right to life, by some Catholic laity. Debates about legally and socially recognizing equal rights and dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual people. Young Muslim women are battling against Muslim clerics and politicians to get rid of entrenched discriminatory laws against girls and women. And brave women from different parts of the country campaigning for local government election, which has potential to increase women’s political participation. So perhaps it’s time, CSR considers supporting such struggles, or at least facilitate reflections and debates.

 

Fr. Tissa, if he was here today, would have been in the thick of these battles and debates. On the side of those who had been marginalized, discriminated. Uncompromising, supporting and promoting unpopular positions, within Church, government and society. A meaningful way of paying homage to him would be to reflect deeply how we will get involved in these issues.

I also want to highlight five approaches for CSR and Oblates to consider:

i.                    Diversify leadership:

Within your own institutions and initiatives, give leadership opportunities for lay persons, young persons, women and persons from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, persons with different gender identities and sexual orientations, persons from different parts of the country. Beyond the rhetoric, symbolism and tokenism. This is probably an area Fr. Tissa was not able to make much progress. It will take a long time. But it’s possible to start today.

ii.                  Use of modern technology:

Fr. Tissa had noted that “communications revolution can be a resource and an ally” and that “extraordinary development of the means of communication, including T.V., E-mail and Internet can be a means of contact among the peoples of the world”. He had stressed the “need and significance of economics, literacy, computer literacy, use of media so as not to be brainwashed by the systemic forces, and dominant orthodoxies”.

iii.                Intensive research and publications:

During time of Fr. Tissa, CSR was known for it’s research and publications. Such as “Logos”, “Quest” and “Liberation Publications (Vimukthi Prakashana)”. The “Sadaranaya (Justice)” has been revived some years back and I was happy to hear the English version “Social Justice” will also be revived soon. But more effort will have to be made to revive the research culture at CSR. Help from competent personnel will have to be sought. Fr. Tissa himself has said that “relevant action requires good information, data, knowledge and analysis These must be made available to action groups” and that “Since we are bombarded daily by the mass media with news and views on the economy and economic policies, it is necessary to be trained to demythologize the claimed orthodoxies of economists, academics, policy makers and media programmes, as it is necessary to be able to demythologize the stories of the scriptures”.

iv.                Principled and uncompromising engagement with policy makers:

In order to bring about long term structural, institutional and policy changes, it’s important to dialogue with politicians, bureaucrats and other influential personalities. But challenge is not to be cop-opted, and engage in principled dialogue. Without compromising our fundamental convictions and struggles in favor of money, recognition, safety and other privileges and favors.

v.                  Stronger involvement in local, national and international social movements:

CSR still is a gathering place for various social movements, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, survivors, victim’s families come to CSR. But the challenge is go beyond offering or renting space, and for CSR itself to become involved in these debates and struggles. I also hope the publishing of Planetary Theology in Sinhalese will contribute towards stronger international networking and “globalization of solidarity”. 

Conclusion

Fr. Tissa had often highlighted the lifestyle of early Christians. “They believed in sharing their resources and caring for one another so that there was no one in need (Acts 4:34)”. He had also said that “former options made decades or centuries earlier may be inadequate to meet present challenges. Some of them may even be counter-productive”. So as much as it’s tempting to remember the dead Fr. Tissa, a real challenge is to make him come alive today, locally and globally. A tough task indeed. But a worthy one.

Christmas and New Year 2018 Greetings

A very Blessed Christmas Greeting to all our student movements, network movements and partners.  Wishing all  Hope, Love, Joy and Peace as we journey to the end of the year and new beginning for year 2018.

As we celebrate Christmas, let us remember the humble birth of Christ in cold silent night,  a child who is exposed to hardship and danger and marginalisation,  yet a message of new Hope, Peace, Love and Joy is spoken in that night which translate to message a call to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are marginalised and oppressed.

As students who are more privileged in one sense, yet struggle in another sense in the complex globalised world,  let us together with marginalised, oppressed and the mother earth continue the struggle and bring the message of Christmas to the world through our action.

Wishing everyone a very Blessed Christmas & Happy New Year 2018– a Christmas from Ego to Eco — a new journey to our spiritual awakening to bring justice & peace.

IMCS AP Team: Ravi Tissera, Fr Bonefasius Ola, Ruki Fernando & Anne Beatrice

The Impact of the ASEAN Economic Integration on Agriculture, food security

SOUTHEAST ASIAN CONFERENCE Food Sovereignty and Climate Change

On the 13th November 2017 siding the ASEAN People Forum (APF) in Diliman, Philippine, Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty with the collaborative effort of International Movement of Catholic Students Asia Pacific held a regional conference on the Impact of the ASEAN Economic Integration on Agriculture, Food Security, Food Sovereignty and Climate Change. People from different walks of life has participated in the conference, introducing themselves as farmers, fisherfolks, women, student and minority community youth groups. The opening remarks were given by Dean Rene Ofreneo, President Integrated Rural Development Foundation.

The formal conference was started by the key message from “ASEAN Economic integration and agriculture on the “Impacts and measures to promote and protect smallholder agriculture in the region”. He discussed briefly about the Neo-liberal policy in regards to ASEAN Police, Investment, trade and people. More over given the statistics Dr Rene discuss about the flow of the services, Investment capital and labor. Moreover, he highlighted the issue of over population, scarcity of food and climate change using facts and figures from his research.

Ms. Jelan Paclarin discussed about the issues faced by the farmers. As the community at Regional Steering committee chair and representor of farmers at ACF/APF. she brought out some highlights from the budgets, of how there is no relaxation for the farmers in the form of subsidy, providing seeds and fertilizers ect. Moreover, she stated that it is more on making profits rather than feed our people. In the end she addresses the issue by suggesting that” it is very important that the private departments come together and work for the farmers, that is the only way where I think the farmers can overcome this challenge”.

The ASEAN free trade Agreement fully integrating the region to the Neo-liberal economic order was discussed by Megawati Indonesia for global Justice. Using facts and figures she discussed in detail that ASEAN is a magnet for the global market. It’s a big market which attracts the attention of foreign investors. She also highlighted the issue of migration of skillful workers to abroad. Moreover, she highlighted how the workers are being exploited by contractual jobs provided by the multinational companies. While answering the questions she said: that these are all foreign investors coming to the ASEAN looking for cheap labor” adding inequality and social injustice in society.

Mr. Ravi Tissera Asia Pacific Coordinator for International Movement of Catholic Students drawn the attention towards “the ASEAN climate change” He elaborated saying: that ASEAN in along with the coastal area and we are naturally prone to disasters. At the same time ASEAN is rich in natural resource though, but because of mining and deforesting there is a fast rise in sea level. Therefore, we are facing more droughts, excessive rainfalls and other climate related issues.

The panel discussion was headed by Parid Riwanuddin, Soy Sophorn, Mr. Bong Incong, Mr. Romeo Oyandoyan from KIARA, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, president, United Broilers Association (UBRA) and PCAF (tbc). Briefed about the fisher folks, farmers livestock and rice sector respectively. They mainly focused on the consumption of food. We ASEAN’s having alternative food but we just use four kinds of crops. They added that a great emission of methane gas is affecting green house because of the rice production, but if we use organic farming we can control this emission i.e. up to 50%.  Similarly, Mr. Bong elaborated that if we reduce the consumption of meat it will have great impact on our climate and health as well.

The Second Panel discussion was headed by: Mr. Adrian Pereira, NSI, Malaysia, Trinidad Domingo, NMFS Philippines, Tanseem Pahoh MSFT Thailand, Prof Mendoza Philippines. They discussed about small scale food producers, Rural women Irrigation, Rural Youth and Academe respectively. He also mentioned about the exchange farming programs where farmers can exchange their skills and techniques. Mr. Adrian highlighted the farming that there are some farmers in organic farming but they don’t want to share the skill with other farmers. Mr. Adrian also brought the unhygienic condition of the migrant workers working in the farms and not taking good safety measures after using pesticides in the farms. After that Ms. Taseen Pahoh come up with some Pattani issues. She discussed about the globalization policies effecting this group in Thailand for the personal interests of the investors. Similarly, Mr. Ted Mendoza discussed about the reduction of electricity bills using organic production of rice. He counted other benefit of organic farming as well. While stating the example of south Korea he suggested that we should work like them, where the farmer get the profit up to 60% and it makes them more empowered therefore the continue with their profession.

Key messages from the conference were on how the neoliberalism creeped into the economic, political social cultural of the country, and how ASEAN been a fundamental neoliberal approach to consolidate the economics of the region and integrated it in the local economy order. It’s a myth that the markets, state, and society are separated entities and the market through the neoliberal framework in its own workings can lead our countries into economic growth and then the economic growth need to development which will trickle down as benefits to our people. In the case of experiences in our countries here is opposite and the benefits they say which we receive is actually the benefits to the cooperation. The impact of ASEAN Economic Integration (AEC) are in facts where the cooperation’s are taking over our land, water forest and seas, it’s the cooperate power which is strengthening and expanding in which the food system is corporatize. With that it’s the farmers and fisherfolk will remain the poorest and who their rights are impacted and undermined and violated and the food system is undermined. We also see increasing rural to urban migration where young people are going out of rural areas abandoning farming because farming is no more profitable and we see aging farmers. Most the farmers are old and we see no sustainability in future of farming without strong support from the national governments the country. In term of economics integrations, we see our agriculture is made towards meeting to demands of the export marker rather than meeting the food need of the people. As we also can see the change in the mindset of our people who do not want to support the local food but more the imported food.

And with this context, the rights people in term of economic, social and political rights especially the rural sectors are violated and we clearly see the importance to resist the ASEAN economic integration project.

Our recommendation we presented here

  1. We want to resist the neoliberal system in all forms and in all front meaning at the local, national, international level, even in the different context, like in Philippine, we have democracy where participation of civil society who are resisting but however the policies in some sense is still neoliberal needs to privatization, deduction and more increased cooperation in the system even though we have active civil society but the policy reflects their interest. More it’s in authoritarian regime even in our democracies. all works towards the agenda consolidation of international capitalist system.

At national level – building movement to transform the state to build political power of farmers, workers and fisherfolks to transform policy towards policy which protect the interest of these sectors that are marginalized

Fisherfolk to transform policies that protect their interest that protects the rights the sector marginalized.

At the local only resisting oppression for example are companies are grabbing the land, like in the case of Indonesia working the local authorities to defend the land to prevent the grabbing of the land and the costal resources.

International level building solidarity people to people solidarity and define it further. Recent movement in the international civil societies to push for UN resolution to initiated a binding treaty on transnational cooperation activities which regulate the transnational companies where it can criminalize some action of the transnational cooperation especially those pertaining to land grabbing and resource grabbing.

There is growing movement in the light of impact of climate change, social movement and civil society all over global for system change which we can also take advantage or maximize to building our solidarity.

South South solidarity where this one even more in compulsive as in they ask for system change where it not only talk about production but also in consumption pattern and shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy and even some are campaign for zero emission. Actually this a shifting of capitalize system.

  1. The need of movement building for engaging , reclaiming the policy space public space, as this public space is been dominated by the TNC and their agenda to further consolidate the export orientated and import dependent countries as of our countries and to which they benefit from the stagnation of  manufacturing and industries which benefit more from import and export and they actually influence the policies, so there is need to engage and claiming the public policy space which we means able to be strong to reclaim that and there many ways to do it, we need to be our voices increasing heard and we have shift from mere consultation to actual policy making.

Malaysia no policy for farmers, so need different way of reclaiming base on their own circumstances and that why there is need for greater solidarity, like exchange experience of each other.

How do we mainstream all these practices and making it really sustainable and the needs of our communities and people.  We have organic farming which shown as very viable, earn income for the income for the farmer while protecting the resource space, water and protecting the health of our farmers and our consumers. There is need for funding as subsid that’s why the state should support the transformation of our food system. And transformation of food system is not only production, it should be towards balancing development that mean our farmers and consumers are both taken into account and the farmers and the fisherfolk earns in the process. They should earn income and not become mere supplier and that where need to build cooperative. Cooperative which are of the self-empowerment type and cooperative that from the traders. Cooperative that generate values and earn income for farmers and linked to SMEs.

SME is an area of which we need to look into where the ASEAN economic integration will open up the free flow of investment which will also target SMEs and it is in own respective countries should protect in favor of the lively hood especially SME in which provide employment for the informal sector -worker who are in the informal economy.

  1. In context of climate change, the organic farming how to be really scale up in term of change and adaptation of climate change. Lastly others sectors which are really important in this transformation and our resistant are the young people and women movement, especially our young people who are very vocal and big in number and need to organize them. And the women have a special not only as giver of life but are both into production and reproduction and excellent breeders of seeds. We aim a food system that are sustainable, ecological food system that will resist neoliberal system.

The day was a success the organizer of the conference thanked all the participants for their active participation throughout the day, hoping that this day will be fruitful to them in certain ways.  For the remembrance, group photo was taken at the end of the day.

Insights for Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty Regional Conference: 2017

As a participant of “The Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty” conference on November 13th 2017, listening to the great experienced scholars and professors on global phenomena like Neo-Liberalism, Globalization and Climate Change. It was a chance to sharpen my knowledge and thought to think deep and critical on these issues. It directs my mind to re-think and reflect on: How the poor and the less fortunate people are being abused by the land lords. Mainly, how industrialization is effecting the society as a whole and the individuals at the same time? In addition, how all these so called global phenomenon like globalization, industrialization and privatization penetrating into our lives that as a common people we cannot even realize that we are already part of it, contributing social injustice to society.

The sharing about the foreign investment gives new dimensions to the discussion. We have a large market in Association of South Sea Asia Nations (ASEAN) and the labor market is cheap. Therefore, investors like to invest and keep the profit with them leaving a lot of tangible and intangible impurities like drainage of industrial waste to our oceans, harmful gases for our environment, physical and mental illness and most of all economic depression. Moreover, there is a lack of skilled workers in ASEAN, as they like to migrate to develop countries. Same imply to the farmers as their generation do not want to continue with their profession. They prefer to work in a factory 8hrs/day and have monthly payment. The greediness of industrialization here is that factories offers contractual jobs providing no other benefits for their workers, hence the poor common people left with no choice rather just living her/his life from hand to mouth.

Since times, Power really matters, everyone wants to hold power in his hands therefore, there is no sharing of power, consequently imbalanced society both economically and socially. Hence we violate rights of others that directly leads to different forms of terrorism. Unfortunately, Government is also part of it.

As the civil society leaders we must come up with awareness, for their rights and empowerment. It’s actually the hard work of the farmer who wake up early in the morning to grow food for us. Just to remind we cannot eat money, human being still dependent on crops to eat. We need to empower our farmers pushing our government and civil leaders to provide facilities and opportunities to the farmers. Therefore, their work will be recognized.

by Sana Mariam

State needs to stand up against the bully

Article by Paplu Bengali,
Bangladesh Student Activist

Will Bangladesh government protect those who have burned and vandalised Hindu houses in Horkoli Thakurpara village of Rangpur district today (Nov 10, 2017) similar to other miscreants who have not been punished by the law?

On 30 October 2016, hundreds of people gathered in Brahmanbaria district in eastern Bangladesh, to protest a Facebook post allegedly made by Rasraj Das, 25, is a fisherman and member of the Hindu religious minority. which they claimed insulted Islam. The mob, which had links to the groups Hefajat-e-Islam and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a network of madrasa leaders who hope to introduce Shariah in Bangladesh, went on a rampage through Hindu villages in the area, vandalising at least 100 homes and several temples. As usually, no justice we have got of that assault; however, Rashraj Das has been detained in Bangladesh since October 2016. He was arrested for allegedly posting an “offensive” image on Facebook and charged with “hurting religious sentiment” was locked up and had to be subdued even though he did no crime.

And again On 10 November 2017, after saying prayer of Jumuah, thousands from several villages gathered in front of a mosque and then, many of the people carrying sticks, torched and vandalised Hindu houses claiming that one Titu Chandra Roy ”insulted Islam” on Facebook two weeks ago; but it is very ridiculous that no one of that mob can say what the insulting word is.

We have seen a photo of an aged woman wailing in front of her burned down house. I just meticulously fear to think of her unuttered words and mental condition. Since we are a human being, that howling reaches to our eardrum. We get angered- definitely, these barbarisms make us offend.

Very ago Hefazat-e-Islam, a network of madrasa leaders who hope to introduce Shariah in Bangladesh, threatened and declared that those who would dishonor Islam religion would have been throttled and killed. But, very sadly it is to say that the leaders who threaten people again and again in different ways on behalf of Hefazat are, however, highly entertained at the head office of government. Moreover, the government abides by the demands and makes a syllabus for education system after the assertions of Hefazat. Since the government doesn’t pay attention to these wrongdoings that are being happened in the country, zealot people who need land burn Hindu houses using religious sentiment- besides this, people who want to strengthen political platform using religion are active in the time of persecution.

I have no word to console the oppressed people of Horkoli Thakurpara, Rangpur. To stand by the tormented people, prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina might not go to Rangpur; but, if it were Cricket, she would surely be on the field.

A face of a white whole cloth wearing elderly woman who wailing in front of her burned down house comes again and again on my mind. Is it believable that the howling woman who downtrodden by her neighbors who dwelling just before her house! It is hard to believe in this century but it seems as if it were a very normal thing in our country.

The down-hearted people of Horkoli Thakurpara are going to spend their night under the open sky. They are helpless, burned with envy by the majority Muslim zealot people. It is crying need to stand by the abraded lawful Hindu minority people; but we are being late.

22nd National Conference  of Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement

By Alfred D’ Costa

22nd National Conference was organized by Bangladesh Catholic Students’ Movement and was a four day conference held in Lokkhipur, Sylhet. Bangladesh Catholic Students’ Movement is considered by many, the leading students’ movement for educating students about Catholic Social Teaching. The main theme for this year’s National Conference was “Endangered Environment: Youth solidarity for environmental protection, ensuring natural beauty”. I’m a member of Dhaka archdiocese and representatives of Tejgaon BCSM, and I looked forward to the conference, believing that I would learn a lot about the ongoing environmental disasters and as a Catholic student what I could do to protect the world that I live in, the world that we call Home.

The conference itself was directed towards helping BCSM members to achieve the following goals –

  • To educate everyone the concept of climate change
  • To make them understand the consequences of global warming
  • To inspire everyone to make a stand against climate change
  • To help members to cooperate with students from all over the country
  • To raise awareness among everyone about the vicious effects of climate change
  • To make students “Think globally, work locally.”

The conference had a good response, with over 130 participants, the executive committee tried to involve the participants in the conference as much as possible. Throughout the conference, there were many demonstrations and activities for us to do.

All over, I was very much happy with the conference, as it met positive expectations I had before coming. Although the conference had a few weakness and several strengths, overall there were three aspects that attracted me making it a successful experience. Firstly the conference had highly qualified speakers who had provided us important information and knowledge about the climate change and what could we do about it as a student from our place. The resource persons were very much proactive in making the participants more involved in the sessions. Secondly the conference provided us the opportunity not only to attend sessions or to have discussions but also in allowing us go on exposures and meeting indigenous people face to face, knowing about their everyday life and their connection with environment as they live surrounded by nature and use natural elements in their day to day lives. The participants and me personally love this sort of field work as it helped us to be more involved in our activities and helped us to learn even more for why climate change is so dangerous for the world that we live in. Thirdly, the conference gave all the participants the platform to stand up and speak in front of everyone to eradicate the shyness that holds them back. And the proactive, informative sessions allowed the participants interact with BCSM members from all over the country and that they could learn how the Movement is performing all over the country.

The presence of Cardinal Patrick D’ Rozario and his wise words in the session greatly inspired me to work more precisely for the society that we live in. His sharing proved to be very much successful as the participants took it very seriously and promised to do whatever necessary to protect the our planet Earth, our Home. The great thing about the conference was that the speakers who took the session classes gave us information on objective data of the main theme rather than the speaker’s personal experience. This helped the participants to learn the abstract concepts and ensuring the understanding of concepts and facts.

The presence of Mr. Ravi Tissera, IMCS APC Coordinator, enriched the value of the conference highly. His sharing about IMCS and it’s work were very much helpful as many of the participants didn’t have any idea about IMCS before the conference. And the conference personally helped me to build up a good relationship with Mr. Ravi and was provided with a lot of ideas of how I could improve my activities in BCSM unit. The likes of Mr. Shamsul Momen Polash, Mr. Kazi Anis. Major General John Gomes greatly inspired all the participants with their magnificent sharing. They presented us data and facts about climate change in Bangladesh and the dangers of it, how we can raise our voices and show everyone the violence on environment through social media and various news portals, as Catholic student what should be our duties, how could we work for the environment from our place and many more things.

Each participants were given the opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas of how they can work to protect the nature and uniqueness of biodiversity. The conference provided the key facts of climate change and how we can work on it to stop it. And the primary concept was to aware the participants so that they could raise awareness among everyone in their own society about the affects of climate change. The idea was very successful as everyone including our diocese was committed for the implementation of the facts that we learned from the conference. The cultural programs basing on the culture of indigenous people were very delightful to watch and the football match at the last day of the conference was very refreshing.

There were very few weaknesses such as time management could have been a bit better even though that very much depended on the arrival of the participants timely. In some parts, the sessions got too much informative and as a result participants got a bit bored. More exposures could’ve been added because that interested me and all the participants the most.

The whole conference was very effective and successful in my opinion. The different sessions and sharing from successful, wise and creative educators widely kept me interested throughout the four day conference and made me come to know about many things and facts about the environment that I didn’t know of. I always enjoy being around other movement members who as well work the welfare and betterment of the society. I learned a great deal of new things about what activities I can do in my own unit and diocese for the environment. I was reminded the importance of mother nature, why it is important to protect from the greedy industrialization society, who only thrive for money and for themselves. In a whole, this conference inspired me to work even more hardly for our BCSM and always try to be a part of it. This conference will help me to work on a goal to protect the environment, the biodiversity and the beauty of it. Solidarity among everyone is the only way to stop the vicious effects of climate change. If all of us can stand together make our actions speak louder than words, we can surely fill the world with greenery that she used to have and protect it’s unique biodiversity. I hope we can use all these information that we’ve gathered from this conference and implement in our unit. Our small steps could turn into a huge change in our goal of protecting the planet.

I thank and congratulate the executive committee of BCSM for arranging this inspiring, informative, productive and successful 22nd National Conference. I believe we can go much further in working for the society if we keep going like this. I learned a great deal from this conference and plan on to keep on working for BCSM in the coming days and hope everyone else will also work on the proper implementation of what they have learned from this conference.

Building Bridges

“Building Bridges” – Chiang Ching (Tina)  of Chinese Catholic  University Student Association (CCUSA) of Taiwan experience sharing of IMCS  International Council 2017

Have you ever questioned yourself what a Catholic should be like? Am I different? Am I proud of being a Catholic? I’ve been wondering all these questions during my IMCS journey, for it’s a journey of awareness and introspection. The shining sun led our way to the mountains, breezes ruffling up my curiosity of this exotic country. It was my very first experience in IMCS. As the representative of Taiwan, I was grateful and honoured to participate in the 2017 IMCS International Council which is the global level second-high decision making council of IMCS – Pax Romana held in Foligno, Italy from 28th August  to 8th  September 2017. For both my country and I, it was a golden opportunity to join in this global family. Everything seems new and challenging. But I am ready to serve in Jesus’ name.

On the first day of the council I met all those beautiful spirits from all around the world, nervous and worried as I thought, as soon as I attended the Holy Mass presided by Fr. Fratern Masawe SJ, the International chaplain of IMCS Pax Romana, I knew this is a place I will call home. Wherever I am, whatever language is spoken, within our Catholic church, we all celebrate the same miracle, being raised up by the same father, and listen to the same word from our Lord. It was the moment that I realized how blessed I am as a Catholic, a catholic that embraces the world with solidarity and unity. There’s no barrier in faith. There’s no difference between our loves to the Lord. And this glowing love would spread to the one besides us just like how each participant greeted me with those radiant and caring smiles when I just arrived. All of the sudden, I know this is my family here.

During our first meeting, each country presented the realities of our own situation based on the topic: “Building bridges: protecting migrants by empowering students”. We had representatives from North America, Europe, Middle East, South America, Africa and Asia (yeah!me!), who are all young leaders contributing in our national movements. By listening to different countries’presentations, its give us clearer understanding of each other’s ability and disability. Every country has its own reality. And because of this difficulty; we are all here gathering to understand and find the solutions for the issues. All those young and smart individuals have touched me so many times when seeing them devote themselves to understand others’ difficulties, to approach more complex and global position. This triggered me to think again why we are different from others. We’re here together not only because we care about this issue, but because we can see this problem through our religious perspective, and as I know that is from the eyes of Jesus with endless and unconditional love. “For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you took me in.” We are here to serve the poorest, the weakest Jesus. And that’s the most important difference and strength that we have. Being a Catholic student is not just attending weekly Sunday Mass; we can do so much more with our young hearts.

After days of meetings and courses, we have listened to lots of experts on migration and even the refugee sharing life stories with us. Luca Marin from CIEMI (Center for Information and Studies on International Migration) has provided us the backgrounds and calls of migrants, and most importantly, how can we do for them in both mental and political level. To know the migration background is to see the real world. It is totally beyond history and geography, which brings us back to the origin of civilization where nobody should be excluded or discriminated by their races. Later on, Christopher Dekki, the IMCS UN advocacy team leader demonstrated the aspect of political advocacy of a Catholic student that enabled us to know how to manage our knowledge and strength in the global platform. To most of my amazement the Catholic Social Teaching that Fr. Antoine Sondag and Fr. Masawe shared with us got me thinking profoundly about how a young Catholic should be. We Christians have three basic truths which is life, faith and solution. Jesus is the one who brought our life and faith together. And a solution is to find faith in our daily life, contributing our gifts to the church, fulfilling the virtue of the bible. By seeking the truth of solution, we can simply follow the constant circle: To look at life, reflect what’s going on, to see, judge and act. And here’s the worthiest thing I’ve learnt from IMCS: See before you judge, judge with your critical sight, take action before well recognizing the problem, see and judge again on your action. It’s so important to reflect on our selves every day, refreshed with the tenderness of mercy and grow with the wisdom of life.

Here’s another experience that I can’t forget for my entire life. One of the nights, Sameh Kamel, a member of IMCS UN advocacy team from Egypt requested us to make a row in the straight line. Then, he started to ask several questions, if your answer is yes, step forward, vice versa. “Does your country provide sustainable drinking water?” “Do you ever work/live under an unbalanced gender proportion?”“Do you study in private school?” “Do you dare to walk alone on the street at night? Twenty of us started this game with all of us in a same row as equal and by end of the game we were not in in the same straight line. And I know at that moment, it was about international view. There were a few of my friends standing behind me. And I believed it was not something I should boast about, because our mission is to look back, to see things we always fail to see, the inequality. It’s a world that we don’t dare to see the misery. We refuse to face poverty, disability and cruelty.  But I couldn’t bear seeing any of my friends living in such condition. The world is unfair, but it is human to change this unfairness and its in our hands to bring about the change. When we started to see it, we have already made a difference in our own world, for the real compassion is to witness pain fearlessly.

I’ve learnt and seen so much along the journey, especially to acknowledge what I’ve missed and been lack of.  We made a short film together which brought our concerns on refugee issues; we analyzed using SWOT within our communities; we practiced on how to speak out our minds in United Nation conferences. Moreover, I met all the inspiring people that I admire and respect so much. This is a life time friendship and partnership that will be stored in the bottom of my heart. We are all just young students but because we are young, we are fearless and powerful. While we are young, our evangelization can be sharing the ideas of stopping discrimination toward migrants or encouraging friends to care about the nature. The influence that a young man can extend is immeasurable. There’re many things we can change, just start our journey with see, judge and act.

Pope Francis once said, “I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments. Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security at the stage of fear, love in disagreements.” After my IMCS journey of awareness and introspection, I know I’m happy. I’m different and I’m proud of being a Catholic.

Rohingya between MDGs and SDGs

Rohingya between MDGs and SDGs

Joining IMCS Summer School 2017 which was hosted by PMKRI which took place in Flores Island, give me some new insight to see the world from different perspective. Special thanks to International Team Edouard Karoue and Evelina Manola who invited the well versed international speakers. We the participants learnt a lot of things which are very important for our movements.

One of the unforgettable sessions is from Stefanie who delivered about MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). In this session, she said that MDGs  failed to end the poverty and as  we know, until now there are many poor people around the world. By 2015, after the failing of the MDGs, now we have SDGs which has similar objectives with the MDGs, which is to end the poverty through sustainability.

In MDGs we have 8 goals, as listed here: (1) eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, (2) achieve universal primary education, (3) promote gender equality and empower women, (4) reduce child mortality, (5) improve maternal health, (6) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, (7) ensure environmental sustainability, (8) global partnership for development.

Why the MDGs failed? With this interesting question which been asked by Stefanie to the participants, made me think more deeply even up to today.

In SDGs we have 17 goals, as listed here: (1) no poverty, (2) zero hunger, (3) good health and well-being, (4) quality education, (5) gender equality, (6) clean water and sanitation, (7) affordable and clean energy, (8) decent work and economic growth, (9) industry, innovation, and infrastructure, (10) reduced inequalities, (11) sustainable cities and communities, (12) responsible consumption and production, (13) climate action (14) life below water, (15) life on land, (16) peace, justice, and strong institutions, (17) partnerships for the goals. Those new goals are just the same with the goals of MDGs.

Now let us see the recent situation in the world. The crisis between Israel and Palestine still continue and we never know when the two countries will find the peace between them. The ISIS made people lives under the terror, we never know when this terror will come to us and which will send us to heaven. Currently the issues of Rohingya are in front of us, as we see in our television, our communication gadgets and devices are full of this news.

In 2015 the whole world knows about Rohingya refugees when thousands of people stranded in the boat in the middle of the sea. This happen when the Rohingya people from Myanmar flee out of from their country in despair by using boat and traveled to Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 25.000 people have been taken to boats from January to March in 2015 by human traffickers.

Recently the issue about Rohingya appear again, in form of a deadly fighting between Myanmar’s security forces and a militant group known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. We got many information from various medias, real and fake media. The wrong information tends to make people react too emotionally without knowing the true situation. Many people think that this is conflict between two different religion, but that’s totally wrong.

On behalf of humanity, the crisis in Rakhine, Myanmar, it should get the world attention and humanitarian support should be given to the refugees by giving place to sleep, food to eat and water to drink.

Back to Stefanie’s question, “Why MDGs failed?” and to my opinion it failed as there still extreme poverty in many countries and the people in power do not have the political will to address the root cause of poverty, which is greed.  and power.  by rulers and corporations. The point I am making here is, with the issue of Rohingya people and SDGs which being discussed extensively, I am saying there will always be “’Rohingya’s” who will be victim of greed and power of rulers and corporations nationally and globally. And it further worsen the situation when other root causes such discrimination, inequality and exclusion of people which is systemically done by the state. As far if there no political to address these root causes, extreme poverty, under development, inequality and marginalization, there will always be the other “Rohingya’s”. In the issue of Rohingya people, the article 16 of SDGs is been violated and to resolve this issue, it not only the government of Myanmar need the political will but also need political will globally which is discussed in the article 17 of SDGs.

The recent situations actually tell us that we still have a lot of work to be done; we have to work hard to make the world a better place to live. By the existence of the greedy people who don’t care about the life of others, where someday this situation may be experienced by other marginalized or minority community such as tribes or people of other religion/culture/belief who are vulnerable, if we don’t stand up now to speak for justice and peace.

As a member of Catholic University Students or any Young People Movement, let us hand in hand do our best to make it real at least by our small action locally. Study hard, analyze critically, learn some important skills that could improve positively our life, and use our heart. Someday, if you become a decision maker in your country, make the decision that worthwhile for common good of everyone, not only for yourself or your group.

Now, on behalf of humanity, let us pray for the better future for our Rohingya friends because No One Deserve to be Left Behind. #SaveRohingya

By Tomson Sabungan Silalahi | Presidium of Foreign Relations of National Board of PMKRI, Period 2016-2018

A Reflection on IMCS Spiritualty

Session on IMCS SPIRITUALITY
By Ruki Furnando, Lay Chaplain, IMCS AP

A Reflection on IMCS Spirituality by William Nokrek, BCSM

The session on IMCS SPIRITUALITY was held at CBCB, Mohammadpur on 1st September organized by Dhaka Archdiocesan BCSM. The session was held to let the students know about the IMCS and spirituality that are followed by IMCS. Ruki Fernando who was the former Asian coordinator of IYCS and the present lay chaplain of IMCS AP did this session.

According to Ruki, IMCS has its own spirituality. There are three identities and three major concerns. On the identity, the movement is a part of student milieu (at the tertiary education level), part of church and part of society. We need to reflect as Catholics what are impact that we have on society. We should be concerned about what is happening in Bangladesh, irrespective whether they are Catholics or students. All the student movements have their uniqueness.  There are many pros and cons in involving other communities in the Catholic movements. Impact of politics on different movements and all were discussed.

Catholic Social Teachings (CST) and other gospel teachings should be politicized and also we should spiritualize the politics. Christianity is about doing the difficult tasks. The path to heaven is not that easy, we need to suffer a lot. Forgiveness depends on the context and relationship; and it is a two way passage- the person forgiving and person asking for it. Forgiving is not an act of weakness, it’s an act of strength. Reconciliation should be done and the person should think about the wrongdoings he has done and acknowledge it. Later he should confess and thus reintegrate back to the society and aim for getting back a new life. The idea of imprisonment is not revenge rather rehabilitation. The highest law is the God’s law. The spirituality should be at the heart of the issues pertaining to politics, society and law etc. We should work with other community of students. Dialogues with the poor, the people from other cultures and people from other faiths/religions are major concerns of Federation of Asian Bishop Conference (FABC).

IMCS AP’s objectives includes student’s responsibilities in Church Mission and the world, working for justice and peace. This is done by witnessing Christian faith, methodologically integrating the Christian faith, building just society, promoting multi-cultural realities in Asia Pacific. IMCS is spiritually inspired by CST and the Gospel and it believes in the spirituality of action which says, “Faith without action is dead”.  We should live up to the social teaching by practicing it. Implementation should be done in our life through our actions. Jesus came to proclaim good news for people and freedom to captivated people. The three main message is Love your God, love yourself and love your neighbor including loving the creations of God, where we should not harm the creations. The way to enter heaven is to serve the people in whom God resides. Working for the people is to work for God Himself. We need to care for them as it says in Matthew 25:41-46. There is no point in just being religious and sharing the offerings and do no good works and serve justice. We need to be just full and righteous and Treat everyone equally as all of us are children of God.

The session ended by asking ourselves, how to build ourselves? Nourishment to spirituality comes from prayer and community who supports us. IMCS preaches the justice and preferential option for the poor. Preferential option for the poor means the equality in the eye of the laws. The people should get equal rights. The session on IMCS spirituality which was conducted by Ruki Fernando was very informative and encouraging to the students. The president of BCSM, Mr. William Nokrek and Secretary Mr. Shoshi Peris were present in the session along with other EC members of BCSM and  45 Members from 3 units of Dhaka BCSM were present here.

 

Hope to see a Non-communal, Developed and Humane World

Hope to see a non-communal, developed and humane world

By William Nokrek – BCSM

Indonesia is the darling child of a nature-a country filled with lush greenery, a variety of flowers and scenic beauty. An assortment of different communities, languages, and culture has made Indonesia diverse. According to my opinion- diversity, unity and tolerance are the components that make Indonesia beautiful. In fact, the Constitution of this country has introduced it in this way. The theme of Indonesian constitution is “unity is beauty”. I really like this saying.  Another wise man has aptly said, “Diversity is a beauty.”  I have been fascinated by this beauty of Indonesia. I am in love with it.  Truly, I am in love with Indonesia.

I never thought I would be able to go to Indonesia and then all on a sudden, this opportunity landed on me through IMCS Asia Pacific. Asian Youth Academy and Theology Forum, taking the theme “Asian Youth, Champion for Building a New World: Centering on Peace, Sustainable Developments, Ecological Justice” organized a summit with the participation of 13 countries in Jakarta, from 22nd-31st July. I felt a huge jolt of excitement when I heard I would be able to participate this time as well since this would be my second time. Got to meet many old faces and be friend many new ones! Was able to meet and interact with Alban, John and Neilan from IMCS India, Thomson, Mathilda and Ekarista from IMCS Indonesia and Ashique from IMCS Pakistan and was able to learn so much from everyone! This opportunity is a blessing for me, my family and my nation. Because once the program is over, I have to back to my roots. And when I do, hopefully, I will be able to translate the lessons from such experiences into my work.

Asian Youth Academy and Theology Forum organizes this outstanding training every year. This event is led by a former member of IMCS, Dr. Paul Hwang. The way he is dedicating himself to work for the growth of Asia is surely praiseworthy. We are undoubtedly grateful to him for his contribution. This event plays a vital role in grooming the future leaders of Asia. Another person whose name must be mentioned and without whom this event would not have been a success is Ms. Felicia Dian. We first met in 2012, in Dhaka, at the Asia Pacific Council of IMCS. This wonderful woman always wears a smile on her face, despite our constant disturbances. We keep bothering her for this and that and she, selflessly, keeps catering to our needs like a candle that burns itself to enlighten others.

I was not supposed to attend this event although I am the President of the National Executive Committee of BCSM.  Shoshi Sylvester Peris and George Lincoln Roy were supposed to represent Bangladesh. This opportunity came to us through the current coordinator of Asia Pacific Bangladesh, Mr. Ravi Tiserra, the man who is constantly fighting to rebuild IMCS AP. He gave me the opportunity to represent IMCS AP, I am grateful to him. Salute to you boss.

21st July 2017. My heart was racing with excitement. A day earlier, I came back finishing exposure with the Youth Commission at Kolkata. I was mentally prepared to gain new experience. As usual, at the airport, I stood in the queue to get my boarding pass. Transit was in Malaysia. Many Bangladeshis travel to Malaysia in search of work. Saw a teary eyed son, bidding farewell to his father there- a scene that broke my heart. I couldn’t help thinking about that guy, how he is journeying towards the unknown, how he doesn’t know what awaits for him there. Even after such uncertainties, many people take this path. I have read in the newspapers how many people sell off everything just so they can make this journey; they do so hoping better future, a little bit more happiness for them and their families. But do they really find? We learn about their situation and struggle from daily news- when their unlucky dead body comes back to country, fugitive by terrorists or when they rot in jails at abroad for being “illegal”. While waiting in the queue, I observed that the man gives boarding pass was misbehaving with these people. He was yelling at them every now and then. Although the hard work of these so called “petty” laborers are the source of his salary. I guess this is how the powerful always oppress the weak.

We discussed on many issues in the program. Sustainable development was one of the vital issues that we have discussed. We discussed a lot on this topic. We all are human being. But till today we couldn’t be a complete human. We are still holding inequity, that inequity is devouring the world. If this inequity persist, than sustainable development is not possible. One will have better share, while another would’nt even get the slightest amount- this inequity should not exist in the society. The world should belong equal to everyone. I don’t know the present condition of that person, last i met at airport. Let us pray that migrant workers like that brother might live well, may they get their right salary. Let their family smile like the brightest star in the sky. The persons who are working day and night for these migrant working people is none other than former IMCS coordinator Adrian Pereira. Salute to you guys. Best wishes for you and your work. Let the deprived working people earn, what is right to them.

After reaching Indonesia we stood in immigration line for the visa.  The duty officer asked what the purpose of our arrival was. After knowing that I have come to attend a program, he asked me about the type of program. After all the interrogation they made us wait in a room. The room was filled up with Bangladeshi people. Only one or some else were from other Country. The others, who stood in the immigration with us was from Argentina, Brazil. England. But they didn’t have to face any sort of interrogation. I do believe that, every country has their own laws if there is a necessity for questioning anyone for the security of the country they must do it. The law should be equal for everyone irrespective of caste creed nation. But people from other Country didn’t have to sit in the waiting room, this rule is only for the Bangladeshi people. There’s a song of Vupen Hazarika that states, “can you give me a white person with white blood or a black person with black blood?” We are all from the same world. But Alas, till now we could’nt  be one/ rules and laws are not same for all.

We discussed sustainable development, human rights, women rights, world peace, environment and all. But untill discrimination doesn’t end, world peace can never be introduced.
Novelist Samaresh Mazumder, in one of his novels, stated that “The routes are much better than the destination.” The reports of different countries and sessions of many intellectuals, made me realize that we are still on our route. We still need a lot of time to reach our destination. I believe if the youth of all nations work together for the overall development, then we are not far away from our destination. Then, the word DISCRIMINATION would vanish from the world some day. Because youth are the representatives of positive change. It is said, the darker the night becomes, the closer the morning comes. A new sun will start a new day. Let’s hope for the bright day to come soon.
Durring exposure, we realized the true beauty and diversity of Indonesia. We went to Temangung for exposure. Their we gather knowledge on a project of 4 social entrepreneurs. They built up the environment-friendly farm, bamboo bike, wooden radio mill and organic coffee garden, organic agriculture farm. They are now socially established by dint of their hard work. Bamboo bike and wooden radio have huge public demand. They have become self-sufficient by arranging a social market where they meet every 4 months, have traditional foods and enjoy among themselves. They are protecting their own culture with a strong hand, which is a very hard task to do. I was amazed to see the organic farm and organic coffee farm. Everyone except them uses insecticides and fertilizers. They use the organic process to grow their products. School going students learn these techniques of farming from them. Inded they are preparing their future generation for this project. While visiting these projects I felt the necessity to do something like this in my native land. Though this is quite challenging in a country like Bangladesh, I am trying my level best to do something. If not successful, at least I can say, “I tried”. I discovered a new self, found a new energy.

We have discussed sustainable development, human rights, women rights, world peace, environment, future youth leadership and all. We thought about how to build a new better world combining the youth all over the world. Because the word DISCRIMINATION is devouring us. Human Rights activist and columnist, the indigenous leader Sanjib Drong often says a word while discussing about discrimination, “Would the child born in Kandahar in Afghanistan and the child born in Amsterdam in Netherlands have the same facilities to grow up?” after United Nations took the plan of SDG 2030, a slogan has become quite popular –“Leave no one behind”. But this is the thing happening in the world, But we want to see non-communal, developed and humane world, where everyone will live in peace and harmony enjoying equal rights. There’s a song to the God, “make me your messenger of peace”. We the youths being united can work with this motto together and build the world full of love and unity.