Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia has criticised a case involving three Andalas University (Unand) Student Executive Council Student Community (BEM KM) leaders who have been summoned by police over the uploading of a poster reading "President Joko Widodo KKN in the Village of the Dancers".
The poster, which was uploaded to the Unand BEM KM Instagram account @bemkmunand on May 25, was in protest against recent revisions to Law Number 12/2011 on the drafting of Laws and Regulations (PPP Law).
Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid believes that police's actions show that Indonesia is in a crisis of freedom of opinion and expression.
"Posters and discussions in academic circles are considered to be something dangerous so they have to be taken down and shut down", said Hamid in a press release on Friday June 24.
"It is as if the state has forgotten the mandate of reformasi, before which differences of opinion and constructive criticism were instead silenced", he said, referring to the political reform process that began in 1998.
Hamid said that the police should see the poster uploaded by BEM KM as part of citizen's rights to convey and opinion and gather peacefully which should be protected by them.
"Not as a threat which must be silenced. They are citizens who are exercising their rights, not the perpetrators of criminal acts or criminals", wrote Hamid.
According to Hamid, the state must truly show its commitment to guaranteeing the right to speak out and take a critical position. This commitment, said Hamid, must be demonstrated through legislation, such as in the deliberations on the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP).
In the latest version of the RKUHP which was being deliberated in 2019, and the proposals submitted to the House of Representatives (DPR) by the government, the problematic articles on freedom of expression were still being maintained.
"The articles on insulting those in power, and the article which criminalises gatherings without prior notification [with the police] are still being maintained", he explained.
"This shows that the state through the government is not actually serious about protecting our human rights", said Hamid.
Amnesty is urging the state to protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression buy providing space for peaceful criticism by students. "And guaranteeing that legislation has a human rights perspective", he said.
As has been reported, the BEM KM received the first summons from the West Sumatra regional police on June 9, and fulfilled the summons on June 15.
Then on June 21, the BEM KM received a second summons from the police in relation to the poster which parodied a promotional poster for the horror film KKN in the Village of Dancers (KKN di Desa Penari) – which depicts the face of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) leader Puan Maharani.
The acronym KKN in the film poster is short for Kuliah Kerja Nyata (Student Study Service), while KKN is more commonly known as being short for Korupsi, Kolusi dan Nepotisme (Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism).
The aim of the poster was to criticise the government and the DPR for enacting the PPP Law instead of revising the Job Creation Law as ordered by the Constitutional Court. (yla/isn)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty Kritik Polisi Panggil BEM Unand Gara-gara Poster Jokowi".]