Jakarta – Amid heightened security measures following days of protests that ended with clashes, university students took to the streets on Tuesday with flowers in their hands as a symbol of nonviolence and peaceful demonstrations in the capital.
Thousands of students from various campuses gathered in front of the building of state-owned television station TVRI in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday afternoon before marching toward the nearby House of Representatives compound to stage their protest.
Some students were seen carrying protest posters and banners emblazoned with slogans such as "Tuntaskan Reformasi" (Conclude Reforms) as they called for the state to commit to continuing decades-old efforts to create political reform in the country.
However, they were blocked by police and military personnel who stood guard near the Taman Ria Senayan overpass roughly 600 meters from the legislative complex's front gate on Jl. Gatot Subroto in Senayan.
The security personnel, wielding shields and donning protective equipment, had installed barbed wire to prevent the protesters from moving closer to the House.
Some students walked toward the security officers to hand them flowers, which the police personnel accepted while still holding onto their shields.
"This is a symbol that we're holding a peaceful demonstration. We're being peaceful toward anyone, including the police," an unnamed student from Jakarta State University (UNJ) said as quoted by kompas.com.
While requesting permission to approach the compound under the proper security measures, some students shouted through loudspeakers, reminding other protesters to watch out for provocateurs.
"We hold peaceful protests! If there's any riot, it's not from us!" shouted some students, as quoted by Antara news agency.
The protests Tuesday are a continuation of a nationwide wave of protests against the government and the House of Representatives that have been ongoing since Sept. 23.
Their demands revolve around halting the passage of several controversial bills, including the pending Criminal Code (KUHP) revision. They also demanded that authorities free fellow students who were detained, allegedly for provoking unrest in prior protests.
A rally in the capital on Monday saw a clash between protesters and police personnel, resulting in at least 210 people getting injured, while more than 500 were arrested by the police for rioting.
Student representatives from several universities stated they did not participate in the protests on Monday as they were focused on holding small-scale demonstrations near their respective campuses.
As of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, student protesters had ended their rally and had dispersed from near the House gate. Dozens of them were still seen sitting near the overpass, while some were seen taking pictures with security personnel in the area. (kuk)