SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: July 06, 2018

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Other

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Indonesia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 6, 2018, hundreds of Indonesian military, police, and public order personnel conducted a raid of a university student dormitory in Surabaya, apparently to prevent the screening of a documentary film.

According to reports, the Papuan Student Alliance had planned a July 6 discussion and screening of “Bloody Biak,” a documentary on the Biak massacre by Indonesian security forces in Papua in 1998. The screening at the dormitory, which houses students and alumni from various local universities and other tertiary institutions, was set to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

Authorities reportedly learned of the film screening via social media and from local residents who said they were concerned by recent discussions held at the dormitory; the authorities indicated that the purpose of the raid was to check the legal documents of student residents and to prevent “unspecified hidden activities” by Papuan students. According to students, local security personnel involved in the raid allegedly failed to present a warrant, used violent force, and sexually harassed students.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a raid on a student dormitory and the alleged use of force, apparently to prevent nonviolent, expressive, student activity, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a party. Actions aimed at limiting such expressive activity undermine freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and democratic society generally.