Students scuffle with police at rally over controversial sacking of KPK employees

CNN Indonesia – September 27, 2021
All-Indonesia BEM rally in front of KPK offices in South Jakarta – September 27, 2021 (CNN)

Jakarta – A demonstration organised by the All-Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM SI) in the vicinity of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building in South Jakarta on Monday September 27 was marred by scuffles between police and protesters after police prohibited students from approaching the KPK building.

According to CNN Indonesia's observations at the location, the scuffle broke out because police would not open access for the students to approach the KPK building. The protesters demanded that police open the blockade so they could rally on the grounds of the KPK's red and white building.

The students and police both held their ground with the two sides pushing and shoving each other.

Although the incident settled down temporarily, scuffles broke out again after protesters' overflowing emotions were again unable to be controlled.

"Children we are all sisters and brothers. We're sisters and brothers together. We're prioritising order. Please don't provoke the officers. The police personnel in front are our sisters and brothers", said one police officer through a megaphone.

The demonstration by the BEM SI and the Movement to Save the KPK (GASAK) was held to demand the cancelation of the sacking of 57 KPK employees including top KPK investigator Novel Baswedan who will be officially dismissed on September 30.

The students took to the streets in response to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's silence and failure to respond to a letter sent to him by the students. Earlier, the students asked Widodo to restore the status of the KPK employees who are to be sacked.

The BEM SI then decided to hold the protest action in front of the KPK building on Monday.

KPK Chairperson Firli Bahuri meanwhile was on a working visit in Jambi province, Sumatra. The KPK claimed that Bahuri's visit to Jambi had been scheduled some time ago.

Counter protest

Scores of people claiming to be from a student organisation also held a counter protest supporting the dismissal of the 57 KPK employees who failed the civics knowledge or nationalism test (TKW).

The counter action in front of the KPK building came face-to-face with the one held by the BEM SI.

In speeches they said they supported the KPK's decision to sack the 57 employees and that the KPK would continue forward without Novel Baswedan and his colleagues.

"[We're] still in good spirits. We're still watching over those who are still determined to break into the KPK building. We here will try to watch over and follow their actions", said a speaker from atop of a command vehicle on Monday.

As of 3.15 pm the counter action was still continuing although some of the demonstrators could be seen sitting under a tree. Not a few of them were housewives and elderly men.

During the action they shouted their support for the sacking of Baswedan and the other 57 employees. "Sack, sack, sack Baswedan right now. Expel, expel Baswedan right now. Where are your voices", shouted the protesters. (thr/gil)

Jambi visit marred by protests

Bahuri's visit to Jambi however was met by protests starting at the Jambi University through to the Jambi Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) building.

Jambi University student president Kurnia Nanda said the protest against Bahuri at the Jambi University had been going on since 8.30 am. Two hours later the students moved off to a location alongside Bank Indonesia and blockaded the main road.

"We blockaded the main road and held an action with speeches and conveyed our disappointment with the KPK", Nanda said in a press release received by CNN Indonesia on Monday.

At 11.30 am the students then moved off to the governor's office because they suspected that Bahuri would be there based on a schedule they had received. However, continued Nanda, the students were met by a blockade by police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers.

"We tried to get in and pushed back the police and Satpol PP but there weren’t any scuffles", he said.

According to Nanda, Jambi Governor Al Haris had tried to arrange an audience between the students and Bahuri but as of 5 pm the meeting had still not gone ahead. The students then moved off to the Jambi DPRD building.

"The Jambi governor did not respect us, [so] we moved to the Jambi provincial DPRD because we received information there was a plenary meeting there with Pak [Mr] Firli, and it turned out to be true", he said.

The students attempt to meet with Bahuri at the DPRD however was also blocked by police.

"He reentered the building and we continued waiting until it turned out that he had left using a door alongside the mosque to the right of the offices. He was out of our sight and got into a black Mercy car and left the Jambi provincial DPRD", he said.

"We'll wait for him at the Jambi University where it is said he will attend a seminar", added Nanda. (ryn/fra)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski based on three reports by CNN Indonesia on September 27. The original title of the lead article was "Demo di KPK Ricuh, Mahasiswa dan Aparat Saling Dorong".]