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: May 02, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Indonesia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 2, 2021, police beat and arrested a student during a peaceful student protest commemorating National Education Day.

A group of students from the Alauddin State Islamic University (UINAM) Students Alliance protested for free education in front of their campus. During the protest, students displayed a banner, made speeches, and chanted. At one point a tire was burned during the protest.

Police on the scene intervened and attempted to disperse protesters as the protest was disrupting traffic. At least two plainclothes officers and one uniformed officer took custody of a student and violently beat him with a wooden stick. The student, reported by one source as a leader of a group on campus, was found badly bruised after the incident. Reports do not reflect that the student engaged in violent activity.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about police violently attacking and arresting student during their response to a nonviolent student protest. While police and state authorities have a responsibility to maintain safety and order, they also have a responsibility to ensure that their response is proportionate to the situation, does not risk harm to protesters, and does not restrict nonviolent, responsible exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by 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. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, the use of force to restrict nonviolent student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).