JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture has appealed to university students not to participate in protests rejecting the government’s new law on jobs, after the demonstrations threw Jakarta and other cities into chaos.
The ministry’s Director General on Higher Education Nizam confirmed that his office issued the appeal to Kompas.com on Saturday, October 10.
"We distributed the circular to remind [university] campuses to ensure the safety of their [student body as well as faculty and staff], yet [retain] critical thought,” said Nizam, who like many Indonesians go by one name.
The letter urged the "students not to participate in demonstrations, protests or other gatherings that will jeopardize their safety or health during [the Covid-19] pandemic”, Nazam wrote.
“We also call on faculty and students to raise awareness and academic research of the Omnibus Jobs Creation Law. [We] hope that the lecturers will hold classes online and account for their students the same way, instead of provoking them to join the protests.”
The ministry issued its appeal a day after police in the Indonesian province of Bengkulu arrested two students for uploading a video explicitly threatening police personnel.
“[The police] arrested the students, who were identified as AS and DN, in their boarding house on October 9,” said Bengkulu Regional Police Headquarters spokesman Chief Commissioner Tedy Suhendyawan Syarif.
“We detained them for violating a number of laws, such as the Electronic Information and Transaction Law, as well as laws on sharp weapons."
In the video, the two students appeared to be preparing for a showdown with the police by brandishing Japanese katana-style blades and gathering stones to take with them on their motorcycle.
It also showed AS and DN shouting that they will slaughter policemen during demonstrations at Bengkulu’s regional parliament.
The students expressed remorse for their stunt in police custody. “We apologize for threatening to slaughter the police. We did not think that we will have to account [for our statements] at the police station.”
The police maintained that the Anarko anarchist organization played a leading role in the jobs law protests. The police have borne the brunt of the protests, which left at least one police outpost in flames in Jakarta.
(Writer: Haryanti Puspa Sari | Editors: Fabian Januarius Kuwado, Pythag Kurniati)
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