Indonesian PT Lecturer & Human Rights Leader Sacked After Op-Eds Critical of Government


By Bagus BT Saragih

The Indonesian Defense University dismissed one of its non-permanent lecturers, Al Araf, after the media publicized the latter’s opinion pieces, which criticized the alleged irregularities in the government’s weapon procurement projects.

Rector, Lt. Gen. (ret) Syarifuddin Tippe, confirmed on Wednesday that the dismissal had been linked to Al Araf’s recent opinion pieces in a number of national newspapers including The Jakarta Post and Kompas dailies.

“By being one of the university’s academic members, Al Araf had become [a member of] our defense community who should have consulted his colleagues here first before writing in newspaper. Besides, not everything he wrote was true, too,” Syarifuddin said.

He added that Al Araf (left), also a human rights activist, had been warned after another opinion piece, in which he suggested the existence of peculiarities in the government’s plan to procure Russia-made Sukhoi fighter jets, was published in April.

“But then he did it again by criticizing the procurement of Leopard tanks. So, it’s all caused by his own actions,” Syarifuddin said.

Al Araf, who is also the program director of human rights watchdog Imparsial, said he really regretted the university’s decision.

“This is a renewed Soeharto era style of pressure against freedom of expression and academic freedom,” he said, adding that his dismissal could even increase his spirit to criticize the government.

Al Araf regularly contributes opinion pieces to the Jakarta Post.

One of his latest pieces was entitled “Will 100 Leopards be enough to defend our country?”. Its publication on July 10 coincided with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Jakarta.

In the article, Al Araf questioned the government’s decision to procure up to 100 refurbished Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBT), worth US$280 million, from Germany.

First published in the Jakarta Post. Reposted here with permission.

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