Suspended university student rejects OPM charge, challenges dean to debate

CNN Indonesia – November 18, 2020
Frans Josua Napitu (middle) and Unnes students who reported rector to KPK – Undated (CNN)

Semarang – Frans Josua Napitu, a Semarang State University (Unnes) student who reported the university's rector to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has challenged the campus administration to an academic debate over accusation that he is involved with the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

"This accusation against me is baseless. What I did before was express solidarity with cases of racism suffered by our sister and brother Papuans. That's being a human. I myself follow the Gusdurian [philosophy of former president Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid] of treating human beings as human beings. So, how could I possibly join a radical or separatist group. Come on dean, or Unnes officials, we'll argue it in an open debate, an academic debate to argue the case", said Napitu in Semarang, Central Java, on Wednesday November 18.

Corruption report

Napitu took the opportunity to say that he also suspects the accusations against him by the Unnes authorities are an attempt to cover up an alleged case of corruption which he reported to the KPK.

"This is not unrelated to what I did, reporting suspected corruption by the Unnes rector to the KPK. This is them panicking", said Napitu.

Earlier, Napitu, a faculty of law student, reported the Unnes rector Fathur Rokhman to the KPK. On November 13 the receipt of the report was confirmed by acting KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri.

Napitu was later sanctioned by the Unnes campus authorities by being sent home to his parents for moral character guidance. Unnes faculty of law dean Rodiyah said that with this decision, the campus had also postponed all of Napitu's obligations as an Unnes student for the next six months.

Unnes rectorate special staff member for legal affairs, Muhamad Azil Maskur, denied that the sanctions against Napitu were related to the KPK report. He said that Napitu had already written a letter declaring that he would not repeat his actions, the most fatal of which was Napitu's involvement in an OPM sympathisers movement.

Baseless and anti-democratic

Meanwhile, in response to the sanctions and accusations against Napitu by the campus authorities, the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and the all-Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) network have criticised the move by the Unnes campus as baseless and anti-democratic.

"We and our YLBHI colleagues, there are around 17 LBH in Indonesia, condemn the attitude taken by Unnes in suspending [Napitu] as anti-democratic. Never mind the accusations of FN's involvement in the OPM, which is fabricated and baseless. Unnes should instead protect and safeguard its students", said Cornel Ghea from LBH Semarang.

In an official statement by the YLBHI and the LBH offices across Indonesia that was received Wednesday, they stated that Napitu's suspension was a form of shallow thinking which endangers campus democracy.

"The actions of Unnes dean FH are very dangerous for students' independent thinking. Unnes as an academic institution should protect students' independent thought not instead using their power to intimidate independent thinking, suspending students, even very possibly dropping out students on fabricated grounds", read the statement by the pro-bono legal aid network.

They are therefore asking the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) and the KPK to take responsibility for providing legal protection to Napitu as mandated under article 15 of Law Number 19/2019 on the KPK.

The article reads, "The Corruption Eradication Commission is obliged to provide protection to witnesses or reporters who submit reports or provide information on corruption crimes that have taken place in accordance with legislation".

In addition to this they are also asking the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to supervise and respond to the actions by the Unnes faculty of law dean who has violated the right to freedom of opinion and access to education.

"Through this statement, the YLBHI along with other LBH offices support FN's struggle, we also invite all civil society groups to stand in solidarity [with him], to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to provide support in fighting shallow thinking and the anti-critical stand shown against FN", read the statement. (dmr/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Bantah Tuduhan OPM, Mahasiswa Unnes Tantang Dekan Debat".]