No honor in politicizing children: Boy scouts led to anti-Jokowi chant in viral video

Boy scouts in Indonesia being led in an anti-President Joko Widodo chant. Photo: Video screengrab from Twitter
Boy scouts in Indonesia being led in an anti-President Joko Widodo chant. Photo: Video screengrab from Twitter

They may be knot-tying experts, but most members of the Indonesian Scout Movement (Pramuka) are nowhere near old enough to vote.

Despite that, a recent viral video showed some adults tarnishing the institution with their politics by leading their scouts in a #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ReplaceThePresident) chant in support of the controversial hardliner-backed movement to unseat President Joko Widodo in the 2019 election.

In the short video, the boy scouts, who numbered in the dozens, were seen chanting Allahuakbar six times and “replace the president” three times, led by several adults in Islamic garb.

Among those who called attention to the video was East Java Deputy Governor and the province’s Pramuka chapter chairman Saifullah Yusuf AKA Gus Ipul, who shared the video with a precaution not to involve innocent children in politics.

“I strongly protest the video in which Pramuka was politicized and children were involved in practical politics. Whoever deliberately made it must take responsibility and apologize,” Gus Ipul wrote in the tweet.

It’s not yet known who originally took the video or when it was taken. The identities of the adults and the children in the video are also still unknown, presumably because of the low quality of the footage.

The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) today said that while Indonesia’s election laws do not explicitly forbid children from campaigning, politicizing them is still wrong and may be a breach of other laws.

“Whether or not this is a form of child exploitation or if the children were forced, we must refer to Child Protection laws,” Bawaslu member Fritz Edward Siregar told Detik today.

Representatives from both President Joko Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto’s campaign teams have condemned the viral video.

This is not the first time children were used to convey a political message in Indonesia. In fact, it arguably pales in comparison to a highly controversial parade during Ramadan in 2017, when children were led to chant “kill Ahok” as punishment for the former Jakarta governor’s trumped up charges of blasphemy (and eventual imprisonment) against Islam.

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