A group of Indonesian students abroad have condemned recent seizures of leftist books in their homeland.
“If it is allowed to go on, these actions could be interpreted as a form of terror by the state against its own citizens,” said Indonesian Students Circle Abroad, a network of 123 students studying across the world including in Australia, Japan, Lebanon, Russia, the UK and the US.
“The raids and seizures of books by the security forces, which violate the people’s right to access knowledge, are an act of anti-intellectualism. With these practices, the state violates the law and neglects civil rights, which are protected by the Constitution in the Indonesian Republic,” they said as stated in a press release.
The state is also increasing insecurity among the public in terms of freedom of thought and expression, therefore, the students urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to halt all types of repressive action against access to knowledge, including in the form of leftist books.
Among the 123 students are award-winning film critic and author Eric Sasono of King’s College, London, musician and social worker Rara Sekar Larasati of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and founder of television watchdog Remotivi Roy Thaniago of Lund University in Sweden.
The security forces have recently begun seizing leftist books from citizens, following President Jokowi’s instruction to take action against the appearance and distribution of communist symbols.
However, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that Jokowi had admitted that military and police personnel had overreacted to his order. The President felt that people should respect freedom of the press and academic freedom as essential parts of a democratic society, Pramono added.
In 2010, the Constitutional Court annulled the 1963 law on monitoring printed materials with content that could jeopardize public order. (vps/bbn)
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