Thu, 04 Aug 1994

SSDI student movement aims to unite pro-democracy forces

JAKARTA (JP): The little known Student Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia (SSDI) aims high: It intends to become an umbrella for disorganized pro-democracy movements.

SSDI considers the existing pro-democratic movements, especially those on campus, "too loose" and ineffective to push for political reforms in Indonesia.

"The student solidarity movement ... tries to unite pro- democracy students and other popular forces," SSDI new chairman Munif Laredo said during the close of the organization's second national congress at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) yesterday.

The two day congress issued a statement reaffirming their commitment to address a wide range of political issues.

The organization vowed to support the establishment of independent labor unions, seek democratic farmers associations, oppose military intervention in civil disputes, back freedom of expression, encourage a multi-party system and seek the closure of Bakorstanas, the national security agency.

On education, the organization pledged to strive for independent student organizations, freedom of expression on campuses, the end of "militarism" on campuses and affordable school fees.

It is also determined to seek laws that respect human rights, democratize elections, scrap the Armed Forces' role in politics and seek the abolition of laws which allow monopolies.

SSDI received strong support from various non-governmental organizations such as the YLBHI, Popular Arts Networks, the Institute for the Defense of Human Rights and the Women's Group for the Freedom of the Press.


Laredo said the economic development policy pursued by the New Order government has benefited only a minority of the population and has brought poverty to the majority.

SSDI also raised concern over the government's restriction on the freedom of expression, the mounting foreign debt and the high unemployment rate.

Addressing the congress, human rights campaigner Adnan Buyung Nasution, who is also YLBHI executive director, called on students to play a leading role in pushing for political reforms.

"In doing so, student activists should not be emotional but should be rational and critical," he said.

YLBHI was a safe heaven for activists who protested the government's recent ban on Tempo, Editor and DeTIK weeklies.

The Popular Arts Networks, an organizations of entertainers and employees of performing arts businesses in major cities, hailed the SSDI's declaration.

SSDI was formed in 1992 and held its first congress in 1993. (pan)