Protesters in Bogor say draft music law aimed at silencing dissent

Inilah Koran – February 10, 2019
Artists and street musicians rally in Bogor – February 10, 2019 (Inilah)
Artists and street musicians rally in Bogor – February 10, 2019 (Inilah)

Rizki Mauludi, Bogor – Hundreds of artists, street musicians and music activists in the West Java city of Bogor held a peaceful action against the Draft Law on Music (RUU Permusikan) on Sunday February 10.

As has been reported, the controversial RUU is still being deliberated by the House of Representatives (DPR). The Bogor musicians took to the streets in the Kujang Monument district in Central Bogor sub-district on Sunday afternoon to oppose the draft law.

The musicians believe that the Draft Music Law, which was initially formulated to regulate the management of the industry and education, will instead restrict the creative process and the artistic activities of musicians.

The founder of the Bogor City Creative House and Literature Garden, Heri Syahnilla, said that the action opposing the draft law is a spiritual movement by artists and musicians. They want to inform the public that there is strong opposition to the law which is currently being deliberated by the DPR.

“I believe that the RUU Permusikan is flawed as an academic paper and could kill off the musical ecosystem in the country. Moreover contained within it are articles which regulate freedom [of expression] in musical work which will harm the artistic community”, said Syahnilla during a break in the action.

According to Syahnilla, artistic works represent freedom and the spirit of the heart in articulating society’s problems. What happens and is seen by artists and musicians is translated into artistic work.

“When there are barriers which restrict the creative space of a movement, this becomes a problem. We are asking that the RUU Permusikan be scrapped, because it will greatly restrict creative space for the movement”, he said.

One street musician, who is known by friends as Bonet, said that the Articles 5 and 50 of the draft law are aimed at silencing voices of resistance and criticism. The draft appears to be based on political interests, not the interests of artists and musicians.

“It is as if we are being castrated, we will not be able to articulate the struggles and the voice of people’s hearts, the RUU appears to be of poor quality and more aimed at creating ignorance”, he explained.

Also speaking at the rally, Bogor City Street Singers Community (KPJ) chairperson Rizal Ucok said that they would not just be holding this protest and a long-march from the Kujang Monument to the Sempur Ekspersi Park, but will soon go to the Bogor City Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) to voice their opposition to the draft law.

“Related to Article 50 of the RUU Permusikan, it contains restrictions on the freedom of musicians to articulate issues of social inequality in society. Violations could result in jail. Clearly this article is very onerous because it restricts creative space for musicians and artists. There are 19 rubber [vaguely worded] articles which ipso facto will greatly hinder street musicians which up until now been independent, that is what we reject in the RUU Permusikan”, he said in conclusion.


Under the proposed Draft Law on Music, musicians would be prevented from “bringing negative influences from foreign cultures and/or degrading human dignity” in Indonesia. As well as cracking down on blasphemous and “pornographic” content, it imposes onerous new requirements on musicians, such as carrying out competency tests to gain certification. It could also see musicians being jailed or fined for violating the law.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Tolak RUU Permusikan, Ratusan Musisi di Bogor Turun ke Jalan”.]