Student protest in Bandung rejects social organisation law, rise of militarism

Ayo Bandung – August 21, 2017
Pembebasan rally against militarism in Bandung – August 21, 2017 (Ayo Bandung)
Pembebasan rally against militarism in Bandung – August 21, 2017 (Ayo Bandung)

Ananda Muhammad Firdaus, Bandung – A group of protesters calling themselves the Student Struggle Centre for National Liberation (Pembebasan) held an action in front of the Independence Building on Jl. Asia Afrika in Bandung, West Java, on Monday August 21.

During the action the demonstrators voiced a number of demands including rejecting Government Regulation in Lieu of Law Number 2/2017 on Social Organisations (Perppu Ormas) and the Draft Law on National Security (RUU Kamnas).

“Several months ago, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] issued Perppu Number 2/2017 on Social Organisations. This Perppu will be used to target social organisations that are accused of being separatists and anti-Pancasila. It will also become a new weapon for intolerant groups to dissolve and criminalize other groups”, wrote Pembebasan in a press release received by Ayo Bandung on Monday.

The group said that the RUU Kamnas is another attempt to involve the military in civil affairs. The draft law contains many abstract words that can be misused in its application.

“The people are being introduced to militaristic programs. The state defense program for example that was officially launched in late 2014, and is now being socialised. This program was then followed by regulations such as those banning of nighttime activities (a curfew) and bans on student demonstrations”, the group said.

In addition to this Pembebasan also demanded that the military return to the barracks, that all organic and non-organic troops be withdrawn from West Papua and that the military’s territorial command structure be abolished.

“In short the military has begun to retake the road to power through legitimate channels. Ironically this is being supported by the [political] elite and political parties, laws, former activists and even legal instruments”, they wrote in the press release.

The group believes that by siding with these regulations which have the backing of various parties, it will make it easier for the military to cripple the people’s [movements], so that the people’s struggle to win full democracy cannot be said to be finished.


Similar rallies were held by Pembebasan along with the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Jakarta, Surabaya and Yogyakarta, although these have not been reported in the Indonesian media.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Massa Pembebasan Unjuk Rasa Tolak Kebangkitan Militerisme.]