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Cablegate: Manado--All Brothers

VZCZCXRO2877
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0043/01 2740706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 010706Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0061
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0010
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0001
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0001
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0009
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0063

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000043

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP,DRL/PHD, INL,
S/CT, EB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER PHUM KISL KCOR ID
SUBJECT: MANADO--ALL BROTHERS

REF: A. JAKARTA 2598

B. JAKARTA 2597

SURABAYA 00000043 001.2 OF 002


The Message is Sensitive but Unclassified. Please Protect
Accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: North Sulawesi has long maintained a
reputation for tolerance and calm, despite being surrounded
areas best known for ethnic and religious conflicts. During a
September 25-27 visit to Manado, Surabaya Principal Officer
discussed with local leaders, academicians, and the media North
Sulawesi's enviably ability to avoid the conflicts that have
plagued neighboring regions over the years. All credited the
local philosophy "Torang Samua Basudara" (we are all brothers
and sisters) as the foundation for respect and tolerance among
different ethnic and religious groups. The long-standing
Interfaith Cooperation Forum has allowed political and religious
leaders to calm any tensions and address perceived imbalances
before they have the opportunity to undermine this philosophy.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) The majority of North Sulawesi's 2.189 citizens are
protestant (69%); 19% are Muslim, 8% Catholic, 3% Buddhist, and
1% Hindu. Before the majority-Muslim province of Gorontalo was
broken off from North Sulawesi in December 2000 by a decision by
the Indonesian parliament (DPR), the religious breakdown was 60%
Christian and 40% Muslim. Within the Manado city limits, the
religious breakdown is 53.5% protestant, and 29% Muslim. Local
residents take great pride in the province's overarching
philosophy "Torang Samua Basudara" (we are all brothers). They
credit this spirit of brotherhood without reference to religious
or ethnic background for North Sulawesi's ability to avoid the
ethnic and religious conflicts that have affected the province's
neighbors.

Horizontal Conflicts Need Dialogue
------------------------------------

3. (SBU) North Sulawesi's governor S.H. Sarundajang has a lot of
experience with ethnic and religious conflict having served as
the acting governor in North Maluku and Maluku during their
recent conflicts. In his view, these conflicts and those in
neighboring Central Sulawesi were based on economic and social
problems rather than religious differences. Unlike conflicts in
Aceh and Papua, which he called "vertical" conflicts for
independence, these "horizontal" conflicts could only be
resolved through dialogue amongst local groups. North Sulawesi,
which had established a Badan Kerja Sama Antar Ummat Beragama
(Interfaith Cooperation Forum) in 1968, never faced similar
conflicts because the needed dialogue was always ongoing.

Interfaith Cooperation Forum
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) According to Rev. Jeffry Saisab, Chairman of the
Interfaith Cooperation Forum Manado, and Rev. Nico Gara, the
former Secretary of the Synod "Gereja Masehi Injili Minahasa"
the Interfaith Cooperation Forum was established by the Muslim
Mayor of Manado, Raub Mo'o, in an effort to quell violence
between Christian and Muslim communities following a joke about
the Prophet Mohammad made by a Chinese tailor. When angry
Muslims attacked Chinese shops and temples, the nearby Christian
church was damaged, triggering anger by the Christian community.
To avoid further conflict, local religious and public leaders
proposed establishment of the Forum to the Manado government.

5. (SBU) Today, the Interfaith Forum has executive members in
every village and neighborhood in North Sulawesi. Kiai Fauzi
Nurani, chairman of the North Sulawesi Ulama Council, and Anwar
Panawar, Chairman of North Sulawesi Muhammadiyah, credited the
Interfaith Cooperation Forum with calming local residents during
conflicts in neighboring area. As a result, the people of
Manado perceived these conflicts as useless on rejected
overtures from outside provocateurs to join the conflicts. They
noted that Muslim youth guard churches during Christian
celebrations, while Christian youths similarly guard mosques
during Lebaran. They added that there had been no such
cooperation in conflict areas such as Ambon, Ternate, or Poso.

6. (SBU) Suhendra Boroma, Chief Editor of the Manado Post,
highlighted the role of the media in preventing conflicts. As
an example, he said that the Manado Post makes an effort to
cover both sides of disputes and report positive remarks from
religious leaders who were trying to stop conflicts from

SURABAYA 00000043 002.2 OF 002


spreading into the province.

A Welcoming Society
------------------------

7. (SBU) Rev. Jeffry added that the local Chinese community has
not suffered from the ethnically motivated violence that has
occurred in other areas. He explained that the local Minahasa
and Chinese communities enjoyed similar cultures, eat similar
foods, and had similar facial features. Rev. Jeffry added that
the openness of Minahasa culture welcomed both Chinese
immigrants and Arab traders, absorbing both communities into the
local population. Mantiri, from the University of Manado, noted
that strong social and cultural organizations, accommodated the
interests or all ethnicities and religions, strengthening local
communities.

8. (SBU) BIO Note: North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Harry
Sarundajang was born on January 16, 1945 in Kawangkoan,
Minahasa, North Sulawesi. Elected governor in April 2005 after
beating the incumbent, Sarundajang is a career bureaucrat who
served as the Mayor of Bitung in North Sulawesi from 1986 until
2000. In March 2000, he was appointed to the Expert Staff on
Strategic Affairs in the Ministry of Home Affairs. In February
2001, he was selected as head of the Inspectorate General of the
Home Affairs Ministry. The central government appointed him as
acting Governor of North Maluku on March 23, 2003. In November
of the same year, he was appointed acting governor of Maluku.
Both Muslims and Christians praised Sarundajang for his efforts
to end the conflicts and to organize successful elections for
new governors in both provinces. Sarundajang has surrounded
himself with a team of English-speaking experts from local
universities and businesses who advise him on specific issues,
in particular his plans to host a World Ocean Conference in May
2009. Educated at Sam Ratulangi University (1968), the
University of Manado (1968), and the University of 17 August in
Jakarta (1970), Sarundajang has taken courses at the UK's
Birmingham University (1994), the University of Pittsburg
(1995), and UCLA (1996). An enthusiastic country music singer,
Governor Sarundajang looks for opportunities to engage visitors
and local officials in performances.
MCCLELLAND

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