The Arab Spring started when Mohamed Bouazizi, a young Tunisian street vendor, burned himself alive to protest his dissatisfaction with the Ben Ali regime.
Here in Indonesia, the nation was shocked by the self-immolation of Sondang Hutagalung, a 22-year-old university student and activist who set himself on fire during a protest in front of the State Palace in Jakarta on Dec. 7.
Using his body and his life as a medium to convey a message, he expressed his criticism and disappointment with the political elite.
His death and courage soon became a topic in the media and for discussion in the public sphere. Sondang was no mediocre activist. An admirer of Sukarno’s ideas, Sondang was actively involved in various human rights groups and civil society initiatives, such as Kontras, Sahabat Munir and many others. Throughout his life, he helped many victims of human right...