Youth: Open Space #16 : Youth, Diversity and Tolerance

Published by AYF Secretariat on

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In this Open Space, AYF is providing a platform for youth to discuss tolerance in the dimension of ethnicity and religion. Recently, it’s becoming more challenging to uphold the principles of tolerance, which are the respect and appreciation of cultures, forms of expressions, and ways of being human. There are rising cases of violent extremism. In ASEAN, the cases are dominantly within religio-ethcnic dynamic of the region. Hatred and attacks towards faith minority and ethnic groups are apparent   What is needed is an intergrated strategy to combat racisim, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, including the fostering of culture of peace and non-violence, fostering freedom of expression, intercultural dialogue, fostering rights, inclusion, and non-discrimination. 

According to the Declaration of Principles of Tolerance, tolerance include respect and appreciation of cultures, forms of expressions, and ways of being human. What is important is such intergrated strategy to Combat Racisim, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance and Education for tolerance. Last is to encourage young people to develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.

On the 14th of November (Sunday), around 40 youth in Southeast Asia attended the session. The participating youth are coming from 8 countries, which are Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Malaysia, The Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. It was an entirely youth-led discussion, co-hosted by Ayu (Indonesia), Kyn (The Philippines), Khant Khant (Myanmar) and Phyo (Myanmar).

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Here are some highlights from the session

I live in the eastern part of Myanmar, and you can say that I live in the mountainous region and we don’t have educational facilities around here. There’s no school. If we want to attend school, we need to go to the upper area. But whenever we go to the upper area, we are being mocked and humiliated. They call us villagers because we would like to maintain our traditional culture and we would like to use our traditional clothes. In upper areas they tend to imitate western countries culture, by wearing jeans or popular clothes. While people from the mountainous area want to maintain our culture and wear our traditional clothes. Whenever we go to the city we are being mocked, so we have to change our own clothes to visit cities or attend universities.

Pyae, Myanmar

Some of us might believe strongly in our backgrounds, roots, religion, and that’s great and you have the freedom to do that. But at the end of the day, we have to understand that we are all created differently, so we have to be open minded.

Rosa, Indonesia

The intolerance in the society exists because of the accumulation of intolerance act from individuals. We need to have self-awareness first to embrace the differences and to think that it is okay to have different colour, races, religion, etc. Those differences make us unite as one nation. Also, in my country, we saw a lot of intolerance like stereotyping and racial jokes.

Rafa, Indonesia

The specific group of people or ethnic minority is facing serious discrimination because of their language, biological features, and origin. They are excluded from the main society. This is quite depressing.  I believe that if the majority people can accept the differences of ethnic people and not normalize hatred, this kind of intolerance can be solved.

Khant Khant, Myanmar

At the end of the day, “I tolerate you” should come with respect and acceptance. You are not entitled to your opinion if you opinion offend somebody and that is not a tolerance anymore

Ricardo, Timor-Leste


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