Rabul Sawal – Scores of students from the 2019 (Bourgeois) Election Boycott Committee (Komite Boikot Pemilu (Borjuis) 2019), held a protest action rejecting the 2019 presidential and legislative elections (pemilu). The group believes that the political parties taking part in the elections are offering absolutely no solution to the people's problems.
In press release receive by Lentera, the group made 22 demands: Reject the 2019 elections, fight militarism, build an alternative political force, stop the agreement between the state-owned oil company Pertamina and ENI to build a refinery, stop the forced land evictions in North Maluku, stop the criminalisation of students and ordinary people and try the perpetrators of human rights violations in 1998.
Related to the economic sector, they demanded that the government intervene as much as possible in the market, increase the price of copra, reject investment by foreign mining companies and reject palm oil plantations in North Maluku.
They also called for an end to violence against women and children, providing a comprehensive democratic solution to the people, the annulment of Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages, rejected the Draft Law on Music, called for the realisation of genuine agrarian reform in accordance with the 1960 Basic Agrarian Law and the nationalisation of all key industries to improve the welfare of the ordinary people.
In addition to this, they demanded the establishment of an advanced, pro-environment plantation and fishing system, the abolition of all business mining permits, land use permits, timber forest product exploitation permits and oil and gas exploration permits in Indonesia and the North Maluku, and rejected the involvement of the military in civilian affairs.
Action coordinator Ian Dehe explained that they are rejecting the 2019 elections because there is no difference between this election and earlier ones, and there is nothing new being offered this time round.
"None of them (the political parties) have programs which are able to respond to the ordinary people's demands for genuine democracy and welfare", Dehe told Lentera during a break in the action at the Higienis Traditional Market in Ternate City, North Maluku, on Sunday February 17.
Every year, said Dehe, more and more people lose faith, are disappointed or even sick and tired of the political system in the country. Dehe cited declining voter participation rates since the 1999 general election as evidence of this.
This decline, added Dehe, is a signal that more and more people with the right to vote are not participating in elections, meaning that people prefer to golput or white group [to abstain from voting]. "Golput is the most sensible choice. And this is our position in the 2019 pemilu", asserted Dehe.
"We are calling on the people not to vote for parties and legislative candidates which are corrupt, parties which deceive the people, which are aligned with human rights violators, which are against the freedom of thought, association, belief and expression, which play the people off against each other by manipulating religious sentiment, which are racist, which are controlled by the military, and are close to the interest of capital", he added.
They also believe that the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is no different, and has in fact made the situation even worse. Moreover, said Dehe, in the 2019 presidential elections, the bourgeoisie and the forces of big capital along with the military and ruminants of Suharto's New Order dictatorship are involved in the campaign election teams of both Widodo and his rival Prabowo Subianto.
"The involvement of the military and remnants of the New Order in both camps shows that whoever is elected there will be no one who is serious about blocking the military's involvement in politics", said Dehe.
They also criticised the discrimination and criminalisation of minority groups and activists, the seizure of left-wing books and the forced closure of events which has continued unabated under the Widodo administration.
One of the protesters, Firman, said in speech that under the Widodo administration there has been no advances in handling cases of past human rights violations, including violations which occurred in West Papua.
"Tens and even hundreds of thousands of Papuans have been killed, tortured, arrested, raped and jailed without due legal process. A string of incidences adds weight to why we are choosing not to vote (golput)", he said.
Voting for either candidate, added Firman, means supporting the military's involvement in civilian life and supporting the systematic oppression of working people, and will not end human rights abuses or resolve past cases of human rights violations. "The festival of democracy ala the bourgeoisie is not a festival of democracy for the ordinary people", he said.
"The people's problems will only be resolved if the people themselves come together in a movement and build an alternative political force (without involving reactionary elements) to find a solution for the ordinary people's problems", said Firman in conclusion.
The 2019 Election Boycott Committee is an alliance of several different groups including the Student Struggle Centre for National Liberation (Pembebasan), Solidarity with the People's Struggle (SUPER), the Grassroots Front for the Sovereignty of Natural Resources (FNKSDA), the Joint School Forum (SEKBER), the Indonesian Cultural Society (SeBUMI), Student Democracy Movement Central (CGMD), the North Star Movement (GBU) and CAKRAWALA (Horizon).
Golput – Golongan Putih, White Group. The term first emerged as a campaign by students in the 1971 elections and derives its name from marking the white section of the ballot paper rather than a party symbol or candidate's picture thereby making the vote invalid. In recent years the term has broadened to include not just intentionally casting an invalid vote but also vote abstention. Under new electoral laws introduced in 2003, golput, defacing a ballot paper or simply not voting is no longer an electoral offence. Although it is widely believed that publicly advocating golput is illegal, unless money or other enticements are offered simply campaigning for or encouraging others not to vote is not in fact a crime.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Komite Tolak Pemilu (Borjuis) 2019: Golput dan Bangun Partai Alternatif".]