FX Harminanto, Sleman – Hundreds of students from a number of different universities gathered at the Gejayan intersection near the Gaja Mada University (UGM) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta to participate in a Gejayan Calling (Gejayan Menanggil) action on Monday February 12.
The students expressed strong criticisms against the regime of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, which they consider to have castrated democracy.
Sana Ulaily, one of the coordinators of the action who is also the chairperson of the Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah University (UMY) Student Executive Council (BEM), said that the Democracy Challenge Network was born out of Widodo's spurious regime which today has castrated the democratic system. The name chosen summarises the deep unrest felt by the people under the Widodo regime.
"We call on all layers of society to join together to destroy and prosecute the Jokowi regime. The name of the Democratic Challenge Network is a representation of our determination not only to be a witness to dissatisfaction with the castration of the democratic system today, but also to become a rebel against the Jokowi regime and its cronies. Behind every word of the Democratic Challenge Network, there is a call to unite and together fight all forms of oppression, restrictions on freedom and the abuse of power", said Ulaily.
According to Ulaily, the Democracy Challenge Network is present as a collective voice of resistance that is inviting all layer of society to play an active role in creating a democratic and fair future. According to Ulaily, this can be achieved by destroying and prosecuting the Widodo regime.
"Today the oligarchic elite echo that we are in a festival of democracy and an electoral contestation, they begin to spread various promises to attract the [people's] hearts and get the people's vote. But it is true is it not that the democracy we love so much is a bourgeois democracy, where it is only the political parties from the rich capitalists that are able to participate in the elections, making it difficult for alternative parties from the little people to participate in the elections", she said.
Ulaily said that the action does not support a particular presidential candidate pair in the 2024 electoral contestation. They instead consider today's democratic system, whoever the candidates are, to still be determined by the inner circle of the oligarchy itself.
"[Presidential candidate] Anies Baswedan who in the [Jakarta] gubernatorial elections in 2017, used identity and racism politics to win, one of the parties supporting him is the PKS [Justice and Prosperity Party], which is clearly conservative and refused to enact the RUU PKS [Law on the Elimination sexual Violence]. Presidential ticket number two, Prabowo Subianto, is the abductor of activists [in 1997-98] who has still not been tried to this day and his running mate [President Widodo's son] Gibran [Rakabuming Raka] who has become the illicit child of the constitution, along with the political parties that support him which represent the cronies of the remnants of the New Order military regime [of former president Suharto]. Likewise with candidate pair number three, [former Central Java governor] Ganjar Pranowo, a leading figure who damaged the environment with the party that supports him [the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, PDI-P] being one of the political parties that proposed and ratified the Omnibus Law [on Job Creation] and the Minerba Law [Mineral and Coal Mining Law], which has usurped the rights of workers and farmers. Stolen people's land and destroyed the environment", she stressed.
In the end, the students believe that although at this time the oligarchic elites appear to be divided into in different camps, in fact they will be consolidated under one power and will divide up portions of power and position after the elections. Once again they are seen to be ignoring the demands and rights of the ordinary people.
"Therefore we can no longer trust and depend on the authorities for our future. And it is time for us to unite and form an alternative political force from the people's movement itself, and win a fair democracy, namely a populist democracy", they said.
The following are the demands taken up during the Gejayan Calling action:
1. Revision of the laws on elections and political parties by an independent party
2. Prosecute Widodo and his cronies
3. Demand an apology from the intellectuals and cultural figures that support dynastic politics
4. Stop the politicisation of social aid (bansos)
5. Revoke the Omnibus Law on Job Creation and the Mineral and Coal Mining Law
6. End military operations [in Papua], resolve human rights violations and give [the Papuan people] the rights to self determination
7. End land theft
8. End the criminalisation of environmental activists
9. Implement a human rights court
10. Free education
11. Enact the Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic workers (PPRT)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Gejayan Memanggil, Mahasiswa Penuhi Simpang Gejayan, Ini yang Mereka Tuntut".]