Indonesia’s primary law-making body, the People’s Representative Council (DPR), is public enemy no.1 to an unlikely alliance. The people’s dissatisfaction with a number of controversial bills, including amendments to the criminal code that would criminalise extra-martial sex, has united students, K-pop fans, social media influencers, and students by the thousands, joining those already fighting against the changes that would undermine the country’s democratic system.
Influencer Karin Novilda (@awkarin) and K-Popper Ana (@BEAUTIFULYOONGO) were on the frontlines garnering online support for the student protests. The two promoted the hashtag #DiperkosaNegara (#ViolatedByTheState), which social media analyst Ismail Fahmi identified as the movement’s most popular one. Together, Ana and Karin garnered 34,000 retweets.
Ana’s case, in particular, is interesting because unlike Karin, who has over 4 million followers, she started out with only 170, yet still played a significant part in mobilising thousands.
K-poppers are like any other citizen who is upset with their lawmakers, but they also have more specific reasons to resist the proposed change, as explained by Twitter user @pegawhy, who said: “The Criminal Code amendment affects K-poppers because women wouldn’t be allowed to go out past 10 PM, but K-Pop concerts end past 8 PM. If the concert is far away, you won’t be home by 10. Are they supposed to arrest us for watching a concert?”
Most of the social media influencers involved in spreading the hashtag belong to Gen Z, meaning most of them are college-aged. (Boomers, take this as an example of how social media can be used for good!) Karin herself took to the streets with 3,000 lunch boxes to hand out to protestors under the beating sun.
Another unlikely group of activists partaking in the protests are students of Technical Secondary Schools (STM), who are often stereotyped as an apolitical, rowdy, and rugged bunch. A video of STM students marching towards the DPR building in Jakarta gave rise to the trending topic #STMMelawan (#STMResist), which was tweeted 780,000 times between Sept. 24 and 25.
Students from the University of Pelita Harapan (UPH), whose campus code of ethics prohibits them from protesting, found another way to contribute. Alongside 18 students from other universities, they filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court on Sept. 18 against a new law undermining the independence and effectiveness of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the nation’s anti-corruption body.
Their lawyer Zico Leonard said his team has already filed a lawsuit over the new KPK law, which was passed without considering public sentiments. Another one was filed against the new requirements for KPK leadership, which would be subject to government intervention if the amendment is passed.
“The failure to fulfil the principle of openness and discussion when passing amendments was apparent in the DPR’s swift and closed decision-making process,” Leonard told CNN Indonesia. “There should be legal action in the courts to make that fact clear to all.”
The plaintiffs also believe there was negligence during the voting process when the new KPK law was passed on Sept. 17. A manual count of the votes showed that only 80 representatives were present at the passing, despite the cabinet having 289 members.
It’s refreshing to see groups few thought would ever be involved in political action, taking matters into their own hands. The DPR will continue to be bombarded by these vastly different, but united factions. They have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with, and it’s high time Indonesian politicians finally take young people’s concerns seriously.
This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.