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University deploys fully armed troops to stop students from meeting with Jokowi
Catatan Kaki - February 15, 2018
The students began gathering at around 3pm on Thursday February 15 at the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MIPA). Carrying banners reading "Stop the Commercialisation of Education", they then set off in the direction of the Baruga Pettarani, where Widodo was attending the opening of the Indonesian Rectors Forum (FRI).
Before they could get very far however, they were blocked by fully armed soldiers near the MIPA corridor. Some distance away scores of paramilitary Mobile Police (Brimob) armed with clubs were also gathered at the Unhas central library.
The soldiers negotiated with the protesters urging them not to go any further. Because they were unable to obtain permission to proceed, the students asked to be allowed to hold prayers near the MIPA corridor as a symbol of their opposition to the commercialisation of education. This request was also rejected.
A short time later deputy rector Abdul Rasyid arrived to meet with the protesters. "There's no need for [you to be part of] the discussions, no need okay, please disperse, there will be no discussion because there is no need for discussion, you have your own forums, we don't attend those, if you want to attend a rectors forum you have to be a rector first, please have a little respect, we're hosing a state symbol, okay, there'll be no discussion", insisted Rasyid. Cido as Rasyid is known, then left the area.
As of around 5pm the protesters were still gathered in the area of the MIPA corridor because they had still not obtained permission from the soldiers. One of the demonstrators meanwhile said that the aim of the action was to convey the concerns of Makassar students to President Widodo.
"The aim of this gathering was to present our concerns about the current state of education in Indonesia which is not okay, it has already been discussed by all the [student] institutions and all the campuses in Makassar", they explained.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Mahasiswa dihadang Tentara Bersenjata Lengkap.]
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