Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's visit to the Eleven March University (UNS) in the Central Java city of Solo on Monday September 13 was marred by the arrest of several students. They were taken away by police after putting up critical posters on the side of a road that Widodo was to pass by.
The students began putting up the posters several movements before Widodo was to pass through Jalan Ir Sutami. The posters were placed at several points along the road towards the UNS main entrance.
The posters read, among other things, "Pak [Mr] help fix the Corruption Eradication Commission" and "Fully resolve past human rights violations".
Several minutes after Widodo passed through the road plain-clothed police officers suddenly arrested the students.
Surakarta (Solo) municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Ade Safri Simanjuntak also arrived at the scene and personally and questioned local people in the vicinity of the protest. Simanjuntak did not however provide any information to the media.
UNS Student Executive Council (BEM) President Zakky Musthofa admitted to being surprised as the repressive attitude shown by police towards the students. He is convinced that there were violations during the arrests.
"Several minutes after putting up the posters, we were all emasculated, repressed, dragged away to the Surakarta municipal police", said Musthofa by phone.
According to Musthofa, 10 of his colleagues were taken away to the Surakarta municipal police headquarters. "Preliminary information is that there were 10 people from various faculties [who were arrested]", he said.
According to Musthofa, the action was initiated jointly by an alliance of UNS BEMs. Initially they had not intended to put up any posters.
"We approached the campus [authorities] to ask for an opportunity for students to convey the results of a survey we had done on issues which are making the public anxious", he said.
But campus authorities reject the request. Not only that, he continued, the UNS authorities also sterilised the campus of students so they would not be able to convey their wishes to Widodo.
"In the end we looked for another way [to protest] by putting up posters to convey our aspirations to Pak Jokowi", he said.
President Widodo was visiting the UNS to open an all-Indonesia rectors forum. He was accompanied by Education, Culture, Research and Technology Minister Nadiem Makarim. (syd/DAL)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Bawa Poster Kritik Saat Jokowi Lewat, Mahasiswa UNS Ditangkap".]