Sat, 29 Oct 1994

Protests over Arief's dismissal continue

SALATIGA, Central Java (JP): Four days later, students protesting last week's dismissal of lecturer Arief Budiman continued to demonstrate at Satya Wacana Christian University yesterday.

Hundreds of students and teachers from the respected university held a noisy protest in front of rector John Joy Ihalaw's office, demanding that Arief be reinstated and democracy on the campus be restored.

Sonny Ely Zaluzu, who coordinated the demonstration, said the protest was only a "warm-up" for other massive ones that would involve "thousands" of students and teachers from all faculties.

The protesters waved banners and chanted slogans mocking the rector and the chairman of the foundation managing the university, Semangun.

"Now Arief, who is next?" a poster read. "Show Joy the right way," said another.

The university fired Arief, an ardent critic of the rector and the government, last week on charges that he ignored warnings issued as disciplinary measures.

The Harvard educated sociologist is well-known internationally for his critical views on the Indonesian political and economic systems.

His dismissal is widely seen as a symbol of the repression of freedom of expression, at least within the Satya Wacana University.

Leaders of the university have reportedly refused to reconsider his dismissal despite the mounting opposition and criticism from many quarters outside the college.

Richard Hutapea, head of the university's research institute, said he was worried that Arief's dismissal might cause foreign donors review their aid to the college.

"Satya Wacana has enjoyed much assistance from foreign agencies for its tradition of democracy and its critical stand of the system," he told The Jakarta Post.

Meanwhile, sympathy for Arief continued to stream in yesterday. Street vendors befriended by Arief also joined the demonstrators.

Student and teacher sources said a massive demonstration would be held on Monday. They plan to march to the grave of the university's founder, Notohamidjojo, who laid the foundation for the university's once democratic tradition.

In a related development, 42 academics from various universities in Australia sent a petition to the Indonesian Education and Culture Minister Wardiman Djojonegoro yesterday expressing their concern over Arief's dismissal.

"It is a matter of great concern to us that several Indonesian colleagues are being subject to harassment for exercising their right to free speech," said the petition, a copy of which was made available to the Post.

They also expressed concern over the police's charging intellectual George Junus Aditjondro, also from Satya Wacana University, with insulting the government in a seminar.

"It is a sad disservice to the educational system that such teachers should be victimized for passing on the strength of their scholarship," the statement said. (har/pan)