Indonesian diplomatic missions in the US are urging citizens in the country to refrain from taking part in the ongoing anti-racism protests — a message that has sparked a debate online regarding freedom of expression.
Several Indonesian consulate general offices (KJRI) in the US, including the Los Angeles mission, issued an advisory calling on Indonesians to obey the law amid the protests and subsequent chaos across America.
“We urge that Indonesian citizens/diaspora and students to refrain from taking part in the protests, whether directly or indirectly by expressing support/statements/signing petitions. Do not post content on social media critical of city, state, or federal administrations in their handling of anti-discrimination/racism issues, including the handling of the ongoing protests in the US,” the advisory from KJRI Los Angeles read.
While there is no explicit prohibition for any Indonesian wishing to take part in the protests in the US, the advisory has received some backlash online by some who suggested that it amounted to Indonesia being complicit into silencing its own citizens in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement.
I got these screenshots from a Facebook group. The Indonesian Consulate General of LA and the Indonesian Student Association of America are literally telling Indonesians to not join the protest. pic.twitter.com/5xkqDQXl0Q
— William Yanko (@WilliamYanko) June 3, 2020
Such a suggestion mainly arose from unverified viral WhatsApp conversations that conveyed a message purportedly and unambiguously prohibiting Indonesians from taking part in the protests.
But many also defended the advisory, saying that it’s within any diplomatic mission’s scope to urge its citizens to obey the laws of the country they reside in.
Of course KJRI is gonna PROTECT WNIs by forbidding them to join the protest. Imagine if some WNI get arrested by the police, it will cost KJRI money (from us taxpayers) and a lot of negotiations to bail them out.
— esteh (@espeachtea) June 4, 2020
Yeah kinda the standard procedure for KBRI and KJRI to say this. It's not that you can't sympathize with the issue, it's that while you're in other countries you should not be doing anything that may jeopardize yourself there https://t.co/KNmuJOFNkb
— Andasmara Rizky Pranata (@andasmara) June 4, 2020
before you blow your heads off moaning about how terrible this is. this is understandable. protestors are being arrested left, right, and centre. if indo students follow the protests they risk themselves of getting arrested. yang jelas, KJRI nnti jg repot ngurusinnya. https://t.co/wbkJtOQi6c
— iyan putro. (@gigiputro) June 4, 2020
Do you think the Indonesian diplomatic missions in the US were right to warn its citizens not to get involved in the protests, or was their advisory a threat to freedom of expression? Let us know in the comments.