Jakarta – A student discussion scrutinizing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration at Udayana University in Bali has been dispersed by the campus' authority on the grounds the event was held without a permit.
The informal discussion forum, held under the theme "What's left after Jokowi's inauguration? Oligarchy, New Order 2.0", was held on Monday evening at a park within the compound of Udayana's social and political science department.
The event was organized by a number of student groups, including the National Democratic Student Union (SDMN), the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP), the National Student Front (FMN) and the Kanaka Student Press.
"We opened a discussion about the dynamics of Jokowi's administration after his inauguration [for a second term], such as about [political] oligarchs in his administration and the slaughter of Papuans, which the government did not tell us about," said one of the event's coordinators, Excel Bagaskara, as quoted by kompas.com.
The forum, which began at 7 p.m. local time, was halted mid-discussion after participants were warned by a campus security guard that the rector forbid the discussion, fearing it would provoke mass protests. Nevertheless, the students decided to continue with the discussion.
However, around 15 minutes later, two security guards appeared and summoned the event coordinators to the security post, telling the latter to call off the event. The coordinators, however, insisted on continuing as they felt nothing was wrong with the discussion.
Not long after, the security guards returned to the park and said that the university's rector had ordered the students to disperse as they did not have a permit to hold the discussion.
Excel expressed his disappointment, saying that prior to Monday's event, such discussions could be held only by notifying the campus' authority beforehand, which he said had been done before.
The discussion took place on the heels of a string of rallies involving university students in cities across the country late last month.
The series of demonstrations – some of which descended into clashes with security officials – saw students take to the streets to protest what they perceived as the government and the House of Representatives' attempts to roll back the country's political reforms.
Udayana University vice rector Made Sudarma rebuffed concerns the campus' authority had dispersed the discussion because of its theme, saying it was merely because the event organizers did not have a permit.
"We decided to have the security guard disperse the event because we were informed [about the discussion] beforehand. No permit was given," Sudarma said when contacted separately on Tuesday.
He added that the campus' authority would allow the students to continue the discussion, so long as they requested permission. "It's up to them. If they want to continue the discussion, then ask permission. If they don't want to, then it's over," he added. (dpk)