Despite threats, Papua anti-racism discussion at Lampung Uni goes ahead

CNN Indonesia – June 11, 2020
Chairul Rahman Arif speaking to reporters in Lampung – June 11, 2020 (Lampung Geh)

Jakarta – Activists from the Teknokra Student Press Activities Unit (UKPM) at the University of Lampung (Unila) in South Sumatra say they received threats from unidentified individuals prior to holding an online discussion on the theme “Racial discrimination against Papuans” on Thursday evening, June 11.

The threats and intimidation have already been reported to police while the online discussion went ahead as planned.

The intimidation was experienced by the chief editor of the Lampung University independent news portal Teknokra, Mitha Setiani Asih, who was the moderator of the seminar, and Teknokra General Manager Chairul Rahman Arif who was one of the resource people shown on the invitation poster for the event.

Arif said that they have already submitted a complaint over the intimidation with the Lampung regional police. “But it wasn’t strong enough for a report, so it was still just a complaint. There were various incident of terror, and voice chat threats”, said Arif when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Thursday.

Arif said that they still held the discussion without any changes to the resource people or planned agenda.

The discussion invited Papua Student Alliance (AMP) Chairperson John Gobai, Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) Spokesperson Surya Anta and Journalists Union for Diversity (Sejuk) activist Tantowi Anwari as resource people.

The discussion – which began as scheduled at around 7pm – was held without any disruptions.

The resource people and moderators held the virtual discussion through the Zoom video conferencing application from respective locations which was broadcast live on the UKPM Teknokra YouTube channel.

Arif explained that the threats began on June 10 or a day before the discussion when he received phone calls from unknown numbers asking about the location of the discussion.

He also received threatening messages in the form of screen captures of his ID card. The screen captures were accompanied with voice mail threats warning them not to hold the discussion.

“Who knows where they were from. They sent messages, ‘Take care on the road bro, don’t hold discussions which provoke lots of people’”, said Arif.

The discussion also did not receive the blessing of the campus rectorate. Arif was summoned by the Unila deputy rector and asked to postpone the discussion. In addition to this, they were also asked to replace the resource people in the discussion because they were not considered to be balanced.

The other victim, said Arif, was Mitha Setiani Asih whose Gojek ride hailing account was hacked resulting in Asih ordering repeated services.

“Mitha received an OTP [one time password] code message from her Gojek account. Although Mitha didn’t think that she’d been hacked. Suddenly a WhatsApp message came in from a Gojek driver”, he said.

Mitha said that there were scores of messages from the ride hailing app from her account and eventually she contacted the Gojek call centre to close her account.

Arif’s private social media account was also hacked. “At 10.57 pm I couldn’t access my Instagram and Facebook accounts. At 2 am, I was able to login, and I took the initiative to change the password, but wasn’t able to. And there were login activities from Australia”, he said.

When contacted separately, Lampung regional police public relations head Senior Commissioner Zahwani Pandra confirmed that there was a complaint by the Unila students and said that the Lampung police follow up on all complaints they receive. (mjo/pmg)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Diwarnai Ancaman, Diskusi Papua Teknokra Unila Tetap Digelar”.]