On Tuesday August 22 scores of protesters from the Anti-Militarism-Seize Democracy Student Front (FAMRED) launched an action in front of the Yogyakarta State University (UNY) Sports Building (GOR) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta.
The FAMRED is an alliance of student organisations in Yogyakarta. The action was launched to protest the involvement of the Indonesian military (TNI) in the Introduction to Campus Life for New Students (PKKMB) at the GOR UNY. The UNY had invited the commander of the District Military Command 072/Pamungkas (Koramil) Brigadier General Fajar Setyawan to the event.
The rally was protesting the TNI's presence on campus and to campaign and educate the broader public on the dangers of militarism and the muzzling of democracy.
The FAMRED also demanded the new Government Regulation in Lieu of Law on Social Organisations (Perppu Ormas) be revoked, rejected the Draft Law on National Security and called for a resolution to past gross human rights violations, particularly in Papua.
The FAMRED slammed various acts of repression and criminalisation of students and the ordinary people and called for unity between students and the people.
Solidarity also came from 45 Proclamation University (UP 45) students who had been forced to drop out by the university after they launched an action demanding transparency in the management of campus funding.
In a speech one of the UNY students said their rejection of militarism, "...is not a rejection of individuals that hold particular positions such as the TNI commander or the military commander, but militarism as an ideology. The militarism that is creeping into civilian affairs such as education".
The presence of the military on campus can be seen as a sign that Indonesia is returning to the era of the New Order dictatorship of former President Suharto.
Several of the speeches touched on the sins of militarism in Indonesia. One of these is the human rights violations that have to this day yet to be resolved.
These include the mass killings in 1965 that gave birth to the New Order, the Tanjung Priok shooting of Muslim protesters in 1984, the murder and abduction of activists such as labour activist Marsinah, journalist Fuad "Udin" Muhammad Syafruddinn, radical poet Wiji Thukul, human rights defender Munir and Papuan Presidium Council leader Theys Eluay, as well as the invasion of East Timor, the military operations in Aceh and Papua, the May 1998 riots in Jakarta and Solo and other the racist riots that accompanied the reformasi movement in 1998, none of which have resolved.
"The military no longer safeguards [the country's] territory and protects the people, but has entered into public space and protects corporate capital", said one of the speakers at the rally
Another speaker said, "The TNI is no longer a people's army. Since the reconstruction and rationalisation (re-ra) program [in 1948] they have become professional soldiers who enjoy the special right to bear arms".
The speakers also highlighted the problem of the liberalisation of education where the state has relinquished its responsibility for education.
The rally also slammed the ongoing muzzling of democracy for the people of West Papua and said that the Perppu Ormas was an attempt by the regime of President Joko Widodo to muzzle those movements that do not agree with the government. (rf)
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Mahasiswa Aksi Menolak Militer Masuk Kampus di UNY".]