Four students face 5 years in prison for demeaning national flag

CNN Indonesia – May 31, 2022
Students raise national and organisational flags at Majene regent's office – May 23, 2022 (Fajar)

Jakarta – The Majene district police in West Sulawesi have declared four students suspects on charges of taking down the national red-and-white flag during a protest action on the grounds of the local regent's office.

The student protest took place on Monday May 23. Following the demonstration, police questioned nine people.

"Out of the nine rogue students who were questioned, we declared four of them as suspects", said Majene district police chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Febryanto Siagian as quoted by the state news agency Antara on Tuesday May 31.

The four rogue students who were declared suspects are FA (22), JN (18), AE (19) and NL (19).

They are alleged to have violated Article 67 in conjunction with Article 24 (a) of Law Number 24/2009 on Flags, Language, State Symbols and the National Anthem in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code (KUHP).

"The suspects' actions were considered to have demeaned respect for the state flag by means of lowering the red-and-white flag then attaching three student organisational flags then flying it again on the same flagpole", said Siagian.

Siagian then went to explain in detail the roles played by each of the four suspects.

Siagian said that many people regretted the incident and asserted that there are regulations on the lowering and raising of the red-and-white flag.

"There are regulations on raising and lowering the red-and-white flag. Meanwhile, the rogue students committed a fatal act by lowering the red-and-white flag, then flying it again along with the regional organisational flags on the grounds of the Majene regent's office", he explained.

As a result of their actions, the students could each be subject to a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a maximum fine of 500 million rupiah.

Police also sized material evidence in the case in the form of three organisational flags, namely IKMM, IM Central Mamuju Tengah and IMP flags along with a sweater, a T-shirt, a hat, a shirt and a flashdisk.

"We very much respect the aspirations of younger students who are ready to fully support society and regional development. We hope that actions such as this are not repeated", said Siagian.

"Remember, Majene has a vision of being an educational city. Reflect this vision in all aspirations and activities which are smart and intellectual", he added. (bmw/bmw)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. Four paragraphs detailing the roles played by each student were not translated. The original title of the article was "Empat Mahasiswa Sulbar Turunkan Bendera Merah Putih Jadi Tersangka".]