On March 17, 2022, the administration of the State Islamic Institute Ambon (IAIN Ambon) began taking disciplinary and legal actions against a student news publication, known as Lintas, and its student staff members. This included the suspension of the paper’s operations and the filing of a complaint to the police.
The actions stemmed from Lintas’s March 14 publication of special coverage of sexual harassment allegations at IAIN Ambon, which was widely circulated and read. The university ordered the seizure of Lintas’ equipment and the sealing of its campus newsroom and reported Lintas’ chief editor, Yolanda Agne, and other editorial staff to the police. According to Antara News, the university was looking to replace the paper’s leadership and other members. The university reportedly sought to “restore” IAIN Ambon’s reputation.
As of July 2022, students have filed a lawsuit against IAIN Ambon, seeking to overturn Lintas’ suspension.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by the suspension of a student newspaper and the filing of police complaints against students in response to student journalism, an exercise of academic freedom and freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights standards including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a party. University authorities should refrain from such retaliatory actions and respect and promote student journalism and student expression. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.