A humanitarian tragedy in Ambon in 1999 will never be forgotten by the Indonesian nation until today. The profound pain caused by the senseless emotions that prevailed in the Ambonese society at that time is still deeply felt. Moreover, the sectarian conflicts have become a shameful stain for Indonesia in the eyes of the world and the progress of human civilization. This incident reflects a dark portrait of the lack of tolerance among different elements in the society, even though throughout Indonesian history, the nation has been known for its friendliness, tolerance, and mutual respect among its people.
The saddening events of 1999 left a deep wound for this great nation, especially for the people of Ambon. However, with the remaining awareness of peace, the Ambonese community struggled to recover from the shattered tolerance among its residents. As the reform era progressed, the people of Ambon gradually rebuilt their civilization with the almost-forgotten spirit of tolerance. Development eventually flourished, and the community rediscovered their positive way of life. They were able to interact with different groups again, although a sense of suspicion and caution still lingered in their minds.
The Indonesian government also took action and implemented various initiatives to restore life in Ambon. One tangible example of their efforts was the construction of the “World Peace Gong” monument. This grand monument stands in the heart of Ambon, amidst the bustling city center that was once ravaged by the sectarian riots of 1999. The monument was erected in Taman Pelita, a central public park. It was inaugurated on November 25, 2009, by the sixth President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Since its inauguration, the park has been frequented by local residents and tourists alike, serving as a place of relaxation and a popular spot for taking photographs.
The Ambon World Peace Gong has a diameter of approximately 2 meters. Its surface is adorned with flags representing countries from around the world, while the central part features symbols of major religions such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others. The gong is elevated, requiring visitors to climb several steps to reach it. At the top of the gong’s support structure, the symbol of Pancasila, the Indonesian state ideology, is prominently displayed, emphasizing its significance to the nation. It is worth noting that similar Peace Gongs can be found across the globe, and the Ambon World Peace Gong is said to be the 35th of its kind.
The island of Ambon not only boasts natural beauty but also carries a history that has taught the present and future generations the importance of understanding the meaning of tolerance for the sake of world peace, as enshrined in the 1945 Constitution. The World Peace Gong monument serves as a reflection of the Indonesian nation on how tolerance should be upheld within the state. Through this monument, it is hoped that future generations of Indonesia will realize a better civilization than their predecessors.