Anger escalates following death of two students . . .
The death of two student protesters in the city of Kendari in South Sulawesi on Monday has sparked a national outcry as Indonesia continues to be embroiled in clashes between police and protesters. Tens of thousands of young protesters marched in the streets last week over proposed new laws that they believe will cripple the country's anti-corruption agency as well as changes to the criminal code that will affect basic civil liberties and human rights. This includes proposed legislation to criminalize pre-marital sex (and outlaw homosexuality) as well as harsher penalties for insulting the president. More than 300 people have been injured in confrontations with police using tear gas and water cannons to quell the protests.
A rough start ahead of Jokowi’s second term . . .
As Indonesia’s parliament was sworn in for a new session on Tuesday, lawmakers will be under renewed pressure to revisit the controversial new legislation. While President Jokowi was re-elected with 55 per cent of the popular vote in last April’s election, his second inauguration, which is scheduled for later this month, may be overshadowed by the recent violence. These are the largest student demonstrations in Indonesia since 1998, when young protesters stormed the parliament building demanding the resignation of dictator President Suharto. While Jokowi has bowed to public pressure and has delayed the proposed changes to the criminal code, members of his coalition in parliament are opposed to him revoking the legal reforms that will weaken the anti-corruption agency.
Solidarity with Hong Kong . . .
Adopting the tactics used by protesters in Hong Kong, Indonesian demonstrators have issued seven demands for their government. These demands include the banning of military and police from holding civil service positions, ending “militarism” in Papua, ending the prosecution of activists, and putting human rights violators on trial. Some commentators have suggested that this current round of protests may subside if Jokowi’s government can show restraint and de-escalate tensions with protesters. Otherwise, Indonesia could see more protracted violence, similar to the situation in Hong Kong.