Four students were questioned by the police on Saturday (13/10), in the end of an event of performance arts with the theme “Papuan Human Rights Emergency” at the Papuan Dormitory, Jalan Lanto Daeng Pasewang, Makassar. The event had no permission from the local police authority, and was guarded by officers for security reasons.
Among those who attended the events were people who represent the separatist groups, such as KNPB, “Pembebasan”, and AMP-TPI. These groups are known to spread issues supporting their pro-independence stance.
Included as one of these groups is the weaponized militia unit, OPM.
The event started at 19.00, and the police was present until the students and attendee were finished. The event exhibited songs and poems by the students and various groups, including pro-democracy activists and the separatists. They closed the event with a prayer for the future of Papua.
Following the event, police officers searched the rooms in the Papuan students’ dormitory, as told by Jhon Gobay, a member of Papuan Students Alliance. Ghobay showed a video to a journalist from pojok sulsel.com, on how the police conducted the search. It is not unusual for events or demonstrations involving university students, to be backed by the separatists and their political interests.
Some students accused the police of being violent and vigilant, but until this news is getting published, there has been no evidence which specifies or confirms the claim. Nonetheless, at around 23.30 on the same night, some students walked to visit Makassar Police Station in protest of the search and questioning sessions by the police.
Public Relations Officer of Makassar Police Department, Captain Diaritz Feel, has told the press to wait as he was not around by the day it happened, and that he is still waiting for the information updates before publishing any statement.
Democracy and Student Activism in Indonesia
Similar to the rest of the world, university students have always been central in Indonesian politics. Students were the main critics for of the first two presidents of the republic: Sukarno and Suharto. However, as the world modernize itself, it has also became easier for ill-intentioned political groups in creating artificial student movements.
Political groups, including the separatists, start recruiting students as soon as they enter university. Groups such as KNPB openly asks for donations to support students in doing their campaigns. These activities often lead to riots and clashes between civilians.
The In August 2018, the newly admitted students at Cendrawasih University was forced to wear separatist attributes as well as chanting their songs.
In Indonesia, the police requires activities of students to be reported to the local police authority. The Indonesian government upholds political neutrality in public schools and campuses, all over the country. It is important for students to be critical of political groups who intend to use them as their masses. Investigations for security purposes are done to prevent politically sponsored youth and student movements from illegitimately disrupting current governance in undemocratic ways.
NN. “Kronologi Polisi Obrak-abrik Asrama Mahasiswa Papua”. Retrieved from: https://media.wartakota .info/2018/10/kronologi-polisi-obrak-abrik-asrama.html , 2018.
NN. “Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua”, International Crisis Group, 2010. Retrieved from: https://www.files.ethz .ch/isn/113652/188_radicalisation_and_dialogue_in_papua.pdf , 2018