#HidupMahasiswa! Spirit and creativity of Indonesia’s student protesters shown on social media

Images: Twitter
Images: Twitter

In major cities across Indonesia yesterday and today, large scale demonstrations led by university students have erupted in protest against the government over a number of major issues. Contrary to what many western media outlets might have led you to believe, these protests are not just over a controversial revision to the criminal code (RKUHP) that would make sex outside of marriage illegal (which is concerning, but just one part of why RKUHP has been so strongly criticized) but also a recently passed law weakening the authority of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the massive haze fires burning in Sumatra and Borneo, and other pressing issues related to government malfeasance.

Naturally, photos, videos and memes concerning the protests have flooded Indonesian social media, many under the hashtag #HidupMahasiswa (Long Live the Students) and #ReformasiDikorupsi (Corrupted Reformation), the latter being a reference to Reformasi, or democratic reform following the downfall of Suharto’s autocratic New Order in 1998 (which was also precipitated by mass student protests).

Here is a selection of some of the most striking and creative visuals from the protests that we’ve seen on social media. Some show the size and passion of the protesting crowds, some show their creative signs, and some of them show students clashing with authorities, who ended up using tear gas and water cannons to disperse many of the demonstrations.

“Our enemy is not different ethnic groups or religions but the powers that oppress us”

The below video shows passengers at Jakarta’s Manggarai station breaking out into applause when they see a large group of student protesters emerging from a train.

How successful have the protests been? Well, the government seems unlikely to pass RKUHP in the immediate future, with legislators saying they have agreed to President Joko Widodo’s request to delay passage of the bill until after it is further discussed during the next legislative period. But the president also made clear yesterday he would not use his executive powers to block the bill weakening the KPK. With that and other demands still unmet, its unclear how much further students protesters will take this but they’ve already done much to inspire those fighting for a more-democratic, less-corrupt future for Indonesia.


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