Nov 17, 2018 Last Updated 12:17 PM, Nov 15, 2018

A hero passes on

Published: Apr 01, 1999

In Yogyakarta where he was buried, and in the Jakarta Cathedral beforehand, thousands came to mourn, among them President Habibie and Sri Sultan Hamengkubowono X. There were street kids, politicians, military officers, students, and East Timor activists.

Mangun was known as an architect, novelist, artist, social worker, parish priest, but above all as someone who always sided with the poor. In 1989 he took up the cause of farmers displaced by the giant Kedung Ombo dam. In 1984 he went on a hunger strike on behalf of squatters living under the bridge at Yogyakarta’s Code River.

He always wanted Catholics to do the best for the downtrodden, but never in order to catholicise them. He once told a Muslim friend: ‘Be a pious Muslim’. Most of all he was a teacher. His Basic Education Institute (DED) focused on primary age children. He had many friends among the young. Damairia Pakpahan, one of the young people who often accompanied him, wrote: ‘I feel he gave me an inner toughness with the stories of his own life as we traveled around Central Java, or in our work at Code River. Amidst our often depressing struggles he opened a critical dimension’.

(Inside Indonesia interviewed him in edition no.24, October 1990).

Inside Indonesia 58: Apr-Jun 1999

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