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Jakarta Post

Lampung university students face intimidation over discussion on discrimination against Papuans

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 11, 2020   /   04:46 pm
Lampung university students face intimidation over discussion on discrimination against Papuans Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) members stage a protest in front of Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta on Aug. 28, 2019. They demanded that the government restore internet services in restive Papua and West Papua provinces and hold a referendum on Papuan independence. (JP/Donny Fernando)

Members of the University of Lampung (Unila) student press Teknokra have received anonymous threats in relation to the organization’s plan to hold a public discussion on racial discrimination against Papuans.

The online discussion was planned to be held on Thursday with three speakers scheduled to talk: Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) spokesperson Surya Anta Ginting, Papuan Students Alliance head Jhon Gobai and Journalist Association for Diversity (SEJUK) program manager Tantowi Anwari.

On Wednesday, two members of Teknokra received threats from unknown people, who questioned their intentions for holding the discussion.

Teknokra chairman Chairul Rahman Arif said an anonymous person had sent him WhatsApp messages containing the identity and address of his parents as well as a photo of his identity card.

“What is the goal of holding a discussion that provokes many people. We have your [personal] data,” the message read, according to Chairul, as quoted by tempo.co.

Read also: Intimidation of government critics raises concerns about freedom of speech

Teknokra editor-in-chief Mitha Setiani, who was to moderate the discussion, also received threats.

She said her Gojek account had been hacked and used to make several GoFood orders.

On the same day, Unila’s vice rector for academic and student affairs Yulianto told Chairul to postpone the discussion.

Teknokra later reported on its website that Yulianto had told the student press chairman that he had received a call from people claiming to be representatives of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) regarding the discussion.

Chairul said the discussion was held to raise awareness of racial discrimination in Indonesia. “The country’s motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity]. We should bring up such awareness through this open discussion, so we can respect each other,” he said.

Read also: ‘#PapuanLivesMatter’: George Floyd’s death hits close to home in Indonesia

Previously, the University of Indonesia disavowed a public discussion held by the university’s Student Executive Body (BEM UI) about racism against Papuans in the legal system, saying the discussion did not reflect the views and attitudes of UI as an institution. The university's Lecturers Alliance, however, conveyed its support for the discussion, lauding it for it fostering a spirit of free speech among university academics.

The issue of racial discrimination against Papuans resurfaced recently following the demands of prosecutors of the Balikpapan district court in East Kalimantan to sentence seven Papuans to five to 17 years’ imprisonment for treason over their involvement in antiracism protests in Jayapura in August last year. (trn)