Medan – The North Sumatra Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says it regrets a decision by the University of North Sumatra’s (USU) rector to revoke the Voice of USU’s (Suara USU) editorial board’s Student Press accreditation.
“In our view the move was a form of campus authoritarianism, and at the same time a failure to understand the meaning of freedom of expression, association and opinion”, said North Sumatra Kontras working body coordinator Amin Multazam on Tuesday March 26.
Multazam explained that this kind of excessive muzzling and intervention should not be part academic life which should be democratic and hold human rights in the highest esteem.
“As has been reported, the move to revoke Suara USU’s accreditation was taken after a short story titled When Everyone Refuses My Presence Near Her, written by Yael Steffany was published on the Suara USU’s Student Press news portal and the Instagram account @suarausu which created a polemic”, he explained.
Multazam explained that the short story was deemed to conflict with the USU’s vision and mission because it campaigned for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people and “smacked” of pornography.
On several occasions however, the Voice of USU disputed the accusations clarifying that the article was purely a literary work without intending to campaign for LGBT practices.
“The polemic which should have been on a technical level ended up changing to a fundamental problem bearing in mind the steps taken by the rectorate”, he explained.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “KontraS Sumatera Utara Sayangkan Keputusan Rektor Cabut SK SUARA USU”.]