The students conveyed the motion of no confidence to President Joko Widodo and the current members of parliament over the controversial revised laws - Photo: Privacy

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Students rallies are raging in a number of regions in Indonesia protesting President Joko Widodo’s government and the House of Representatives plans ratifying numbers of draft laws. Rallies were held simultaneously in several big cities over the country on Monday (09/23), just a few weeks before Widodo’s second-term inauguration on Oct, 20.

A wave of rallies took place in the capital of Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Malang, Semarang, Bali, Surabaya, Makassar, Riau, and Papua, the most volatile regions of Eastern Indonesia, most local media reported.

The fresh protests came following a series of student and activist actions that have intensified in recent weeks due to the controversial revision laws that are considered detrimental to society. Even a motion of no confidence to President Widodo and the members of parliament (MPs) has been submitted.

Their aspirations lead to a number of laws that have been and will be revised in parliament such as the revision of the Corruption Eradication Commission (CEC), criminal code, elimination of sexual violence, land, mineral and coal, agrarian conflicts, haze, and violence and human rights violations in Papua. The students considered that the legislative products prioritized the authorities and businessmen more than the peoples.

Summarized from several local media reports, there are seven demands for students action. First, there is an urgent delay to re-discuss the problematic articles in the Criminal Code.

On Friday, Widodo has called for the MPs to hold off the passing of the Criminal Code revision law, after getting widely protests from the society. But it does not call for changes in the substance of the articles which are considered problematic in the draft that has been prepared.

The latest draft of the bill still includes several articles that aim to regulate morality, criminalizing, among other things, consensual sex by an unmarried couple, cohabitation and the promotion of contraception. The bill also restores a ban on insulting the President that had been repealed by the Constitutional Court.

Second, urging the government and the MPs to revise the recently passed CEC Law and reject any weakening of corruption eradication efforts in Indonesia. The House ratified the Revisions to Law no.30/2002 on Sept. 17, just 13 days after it was first officially tabled for deliberation at the parliament.

Having successfully prosecuted hundreds of politicians and officials since its formation in 2002, the CEC has become one of the country’s most respected agencies. There have been repeated efforts by politicians and police to undermine the commission and last week parliament passed a motion to debate amendments to the 2002 law that created the commission.

The proposed changes include the establishment of an oversight council to monitor the CEC’s performance, removal of the agency’s independent status by making it a government body instead, and requiring anti-graft investigators to obtain permits from the oversight council to conduct wiretaps, as well as the removal of CEC’s ability to recruit its own investigators.

The new law, both before and after it was ratified, has been met with widespread criticism from activists, experts and members of the public, who view the revisions as part of a concerted effort to weaken anti-graft commission, which has often targeted powerful members of the parliament in the past.

Third, demanding that the state investigate and prosecute the elites responsible for environmental damage in several regions in Indonesia that have caused a dangerous haze in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatera, West, and Central Kalimantan.

Last week, hundreds of students from a number of campuses in Riau Province occupied the local House office as a form of protest over the poor air condition caused by the dangerous haze in the region.

Fourth, reject problematic articles in the Labor Bill that do not favor workers. Fifth, reject the problematic articles in the Land Bill which is a form of betrayal to the spirit of agrarian reform.

Sixth, urging the ratification of the Bill on the Elimination of Sexual Violence. Seventh, encourage the process of democratization in Indonesia and stop the arrest of activists in various sectors.

They demanded that President Widodo step down if he did not fulfill the request. Moreover, the seven demands were included in Widodo’s presidential campaign promises since 2014.

“We from various campuses have reviewed all of the bills and agreed to ask to be canceled. We ask the president to revoke all revisions of the law. If not able to resign from office as president,” said one of the action coordinators, Angga Firmansyah from the Indonesian Muslim University in Makassar as reported by CNN Indonesia.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com