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Jakarta Post

Online Kamisan: Activism goes digital during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, April 23, 2020   /   08:20 pm
Online Kamisan: Activism goes digital during COVID-19 pandemic Activists of the Solidarity Network of Victims for Justice attend the 574th Kamisan, a weekly silent protest, in front of the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Feb 14, 2019. (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

As the COVID-19 pandemic forces people to stay indoors, human rights activists have embraced digital platforms to have their voices heard and express their demands. Kamisan, a weekly silent protest held every Thursday in front of the Presidential Palace complex, is one such movement that has shifted to social media.

"Online Kamisan will continue to accommodate the struggle against violations of human rights amid the pandemic," the head of the impunity watch division of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Dimas Bagus Arya Saputra, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

According to Dimas, who is also one of the coordinators of the Kamisan protest, the online version of the silent protest has been conducted since March 19, mainly on Twitter and Instagram.

Through an online graphics template posted every Thursday on the @AksiKamisan official Twitter account, Twitter users are able to write in comments and demands relating to human rights issues.

This week's Kamisan rally took women’s empowerment as the theme in accordance with the Kartini Day celebration.

In response to the recent arrest of human rights activist Ravio Patra, Twitter users adopted this week’s Kamisan protest to voice their opinions.

"Ibu Kartini would have wept to see her children who fought against injustice being arrested one by one," wrote Twitter account @trisnabayuzzz.

In addition, online Kamisan also conducts live Instagram streaming every Thursday at 4 p.m. with different speakers discussing different issues every week.

One of the @AksiKamisan social media account administrators, Ahmad Sajali, said a live Instagram streaming could attract up to 1,800 views.

"Posts on #kamisanonline have been uploaded hundreds of times through Twitter and Instagram combined," he said. "We have seen more engagement as compared with the usual on-street Kamisan protests during this pandemic."

Maria Katarina Sumarsih, a doyen of the Kamisan protest, said the digital rally mostly targeted the younger generation as elderly people rarely used social media.

"The Kamisan protest on the street was much more tangible as we could share our voices and demands face to face. I just wish the pandemic would be over soon so we can meet again at the usual Kamisan rally," she told the Post.

However, she added that the spirit of the Kamisan protest remained as she still routinely wrote to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, demanding justice for her son, the victim of a past human rights violation, and other unaddressed contemporary human rights issues.