On September 24, student demonstrators and police clashed violently during the second day of protests against anti-corruption legislation and a draft criminal code. More than three hundred protesters and police were reportedly treated for injuries sustained during the protest.
Hundreds of students from various universities gathered outside Indonesia’s parliament in Jakarta to demand the repeal of a Corruption Eradication Commission law passed one week prior, which they claim would weaken the authority and independence of a corruption watchdog agency. Students also protested a draft criminal code that would, inter alia, outlaw extramarital sex, non-married couples from living together, and insulting the president, and strengthen blasphemy laws. Students held similar protests in other cities across the country.
Reports indicate that during the Jakarta protest, demonstrators blocked a road leading to parliament, and vandalized and attempted to break into parliament. In response, police fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters. According to police, at least 265 students and 39 police officers were hospitalized for their injuries. Police also arrested 94 individuals for violence; it is unclear whether those include students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While students have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly. State authorities likewise have a responsibility to ensure that their actions are proportionate and are not intended to restrict or retaliate against peaceful expressive activity. Such incidents undermine freedoms of expression and assembly, and democratic society generally.