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Jakarta Post

Jokowi, House call for probe after two students die following protests in Kendari

  • Ghina Ghaliya, Ardilla Syakriah and Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, September 27, 2019   /   06:25 pm
Jokowi, House call for probe after two students die following protests in Kendari A police officer tries to block students from entering the House of Representatives complex after the latter knocked down its gate on Sept. 24. The students were protesting a proposed revision to the Criminal Code, which many consider a threat to democracy. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and House of Representatives members have demanded an investigation be launched into the deaths of two university students who took part in Thursday’s student protest that ended in clashes between the police and protesters in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi.

A student of Halu Oleo University identified as La Randi, 21, died on Thursday afternoon after succumbing to what police have confirmed were gunshot wounds after being shot by an unidentified perpetrator.

Another student protester from the same university, Muhammad Yusuf Fardawi, 19, was confirmed to have died on Friday morning at Bahtaremas Hospital, where he underwent surgery for severe head injuries.

“Yusuf died because he was stabbed in the head with a bayonet,” Kurniawan Hendrik, the coordinator of the student protest in Kendari, told The Jakarta Post.

Jokowi extended his condolences to the families of the two young men on Friday, saying he hoped what the late students had fought for during the protest would contribute to the good of the nation.

“National Police chief [Gen. Tito Karnavian] has told me the two were involved in a protest to voice aspirations in front of the Southeast Sulawesi Legislative Council building,” Jokowi said.

“I have ordered [Tito] to investigate and probe the entire police force because he told me no order was issued [for police] to carry weapons in their handling of the protests,” he added.

The two deceased students were among tens of thousands of university students who took to the streets in cities across Indonesia since Monday to protest a number of controversial bills and what has been seen as an attempt to restore authoritarian rule.

Line of fire: A police officer aims a riot gun at protesters, mostly high school students, near the House of Representatives building in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday.Line of fire: A police officer aims a riot gun at protesters, mostly high school students, near the House of Representatives building in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Some of the protests, including in Jakarta, Bandung in West Java and Makassar in South Sulawesi, descended into clashes between student protesters and security forces, with reports of police using excessive force against protesters and journalists emerging since Tuesday.

Jokowi asserted he had reminded the police not to use violence or to act repressively against the protesters as the students were “holding rallies to express their opinions, which is protected by the Constitution.”

House members have echoed Jokowi’s statement, saying that an investigation was necessary to ensure clarity over the incident.

Lawmaker Arsul Sani, who sits on House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, called for the police to work together with the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in its probe, given the latter’s authority to look into alleged human rights abuses.

"We can't also accuse the police [of being responsible for the deaths] because everything is possible. This must be thoroughly investigated and the people must know the result," the United Development Party (PPP) politician said.

People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan of the National Mandate Party (PAN) expressed hope the incident would be the last.

"We appreciate that the young people are expressing their aspirations [...] so, believe the government and lawmakers will respond positively to their demands,” he said. (gis)