Sun, 13 Apr 2003

'Iraqis need moral boost and emotional support'

They may be teenagers but they are fully aware of what is going on in the world beyond their youthful interests. The war in Iraq, too, has not escaped their attention.

The U.S.-led incursion, the antiwar protests and the role of the United Nations have become a topic of discussion among Indonesian students. On the protests, many students believe that some antiwar protests in the country, organized by various groups, are probably not sincere but are tainted by group interests.

These youths also believe that to address the Iraq issue, prayers are more powerful since they have also learned that nothing can stop the war, not even a powerful body such as the United Nations. Some have spared their daily allowance to be donated to the Iraqi children.

The students also believe something must be done to help the war-stricken Iraqis. They share their opinions on the above and how to prevent such wars in the future with The Jakarta Post's Emmy Fitri. The following are excerpts of the interview.

Dias Kinanti, 15, is a second-year student of privately run Al- Ikhlas Junior High School in Cipete, South Jakarta : Well, I don't know exactly what to do but I think we can say prayers for the Iraqis because they're living too far from here. I think the best way to help them and the most feasible thing I can do is just to send my prayers.

I saw on television many demonstrations against the war but there were no clear results because Iraq was attacked anyhow. Antiwar protests are probably still needed but not that much. It doesn't help at all eventually.

And to prevent such a war from breaking out again in other places, leaders must be able to control their own people, respect other countries and obey the UN because the body is the only one we can rely on to settle any dispute.

Andien, 17, jazz singer, student of Al-Izhar High School, Pondok Labu, South Jakarta: I know there have been various movements to help Iraq. Some people have collected funds and others goods. The movements are organized either by Muslim groups or humanitarian organizations here. The call for aid has also been sent through SMS (Short Message Service). That's important because the Iraqis surely need such aid but sending them our prayers is also necessary. They (Iraqis) need a moral boost and emotional support. This is not only a must for Muslims but for all of us.

As for those antiwar rallies, not that I don't agree, but I think I am still too young to take part in demonstrations. I notice that a rally is usually staged by a group or a party that later on, if we observe closely, had vested interests in staging a certain rally.

Personally I'd rather participate in the dzuhur prayer in my school which is held every afternoon. We now mention the Iraqis in our prayers. I think that's more sincere and realistic.

To prevent such crimes from occurring in other places in the future, nations must respect one another and vote for leaders who listen to what their people say. World peace, I believe, cannot be just created by one nation. All nations must stand together to make it happen.

I think we must start from our country. Make peace here first.

Bagas, 16, is a student of state-run SMUN 39, Cijantung, East Jakarta: Iraq is too far away from here. If we talk about help for the Acehnese or Papuan people, I think that's more relevant. But the war (in Iraq) is predictable. Our media makes news on the war a top priority, doesn't it? I've been following the news, too. Not because I think I can do something but it's the most current news so I have to know at least for my own knowledge.

However, I donated some money for the Iraqi children too sometime ago. It was not much though. Some friends of mine raised the fund for the children but I don't know where they are going to channel the funds.

To prevent such wars from occurring in the future and to have a peaceful world, I think, the United Nations must use their full authority and not be easily influenced. Every member nation of the UN, must have full trust in the body and listen to what it says.

Teguh is a student of state-run SMUN 39 Cijantung, East Jakarta:

I agree with my friend that it's too far from here. I wish I could go there for jihad to fight the U.S. but I can't. Here in our home country we have a lot of problems that must be solved too. I think we can be more helpful to our brothers/sisters in Aceh or Papua. There must be clear information on where the fund will go and how it will reach the Iraqis. In my neighborhood mosque, during the Friday noon prayers, we collect donations for the Iraqis.

To prevent such war crimes from occurring in the future, we have to know why it happens. It's because of Bush and if he had not been elected president, I don't think there would have been any war. Americans must elect a new president, someone that has a heart and will listen to them. I wonder why Bush doesn't pay attention to the worldwide antiwar protests or even listen to his own people's voice. America is said to be the most democratic country, isn't it?