By: Fullah Jumaynah
Solidaritas.net – March 11th 2015, join forces of Yogyakarta students has been successfully defending democracy inside the campus. LPM Rhetor, students journalism club, of UIN Sunan Kalijaga, a state Islamic university, supported by students from Students Movement Front from all over Yogyakarta Special Region successfully defended their event against anti-pluralism civilian militia trying to disband public screening and discussion of the movie “Senyap” organized by the journalism club. The Students Movement Front itself consists of several students journalism clubs from other universities like LPM Arena, LPM Ekspresi, LPM Nuansa, as well as other students movement groups like PEMBEBASAN, PPMI, PPR, SMI, FMN, FMN, HMI, PMII, IMM, KPO PRP and more. The civil militia was declared themselves as Front Umat Islam (FUI) Yogya.
The intimidation had been pointed to the public screening and discussion since March 9th, 2015, or two days before and ironically came from the University administration (rector’s office) by canceling the permit for that event. According to the statement of the University, it was a preventive action to maintain campus stability. Another reason claimed by the university was the Sultanate’s Jogja Istimewa regulation. Several intimidations coming from University bureaucrats, including Deputy Rector for Students Affairs, from banned the event of using campus facilities to threat of criminal charges to the event organizer if the event ended with riot. None of those intimidations could make the students to walk out, instead, it strengthened their will to keep the event.
That day since 08.00 WIB (Indonesia Western Time/UTC+07), many students have been coming into Student Center, the venue for the movie screening and public discussion. They found they were blocked by campus security along with university rector and his staffs trying to stop the event. Several negotiations between university administrations with event organization ended in vain. Around 09.00 WIB, group of people wearing white robes and clothes declared themselves as Front Umat Islam (FUI) Yogyakarta started to come at campus’ western gate intimidating the event while at the eastern gate, group of police officers seen forming barricade there to protect the campus perimeter and prevent any possible riot.
Even before the police force arrived, the event organizer had formed its own security team from member of various student movement fronts. They had been ready since 07.00 WIB guarding several security posts around the venue and campus area. Other members or the organizer had tight negotiations with University administration. Students decided to keep the event as there were supporting shouting coming from attendees. LPM Rhetor’s club president, on behalf of the organizer, made a bold statement by ripping off official letter from University administration forbidding the event. Around 10.00 WIB, the film screening was officially started with approximately 200 attendees of students and public attendees. There were several speeches from representatives of the organizers and several organizations under the umbrella of The Students Movement Front.
The Rector of UIN, Akh. Minhaji, briefly came into the Student Center trying once again to stop the screening claiming that there’s no official permit for the distribution of that Joshua Oppenheimer’s movie. Representative from the organizer rejected that claim by stating that the movie, originally titled “The Look of Silence,” is endorsed by National Commission on Human Rights, one of official state bodies. Failed with his attempt, Minhaji left from the venue and right after that, the movie screening was started. The whole event was successful without any serious issue until it concluded at 14.00 WIB. The crowd from FUI was unable to break into the campus area. That was a milestone as it was the first time such public screening and discussion of this movie successfully held. There were several events organized by AJI Yogyakarta and several other campuses such as UGM, ISI, Sanata Dharma, and more were ambushed and stopped by police and anti-pluralism civil militia.
It was very clear that the students united their force to defend the democracy. The fact that there were hundreds of people coming to the screening was a solid proof of huge concern about the historical truth. Big credit goes to the organizer which despite of continuous intimidation from University administration they managed to prepare that event. Several incidents were happened that day including the venue was locked by campus security and even the organizers stood against the security campus trying to take the screen. It was the bravery and the unity of Students Movement Front of Yogyakarta made that event success and keep it secured. They made a commitment that they will stood against any attempt to disband the event. They have been prepared themselves to possible confrontation with those anti-pluralism civil militia. The fact that the public screening has successfully held in Yogyakarta raises our confidence that democracy is worth to fight for. Organized unity can be a powerful force against any anti democracy movement. May the people’s struggle for democracy and welfare endure and will prevail.