• Panah Kirana

The importance of Student Participation in Legal protest

In these past few weeks the city of Jakarta has seen its fair share of problems regarding the issue of riots and public protest, among the leading elements of the participants it was the student led groups that acted as the vanguard of the protest.

In fact, it was only mostly during the last few days that participations from the religious organizations and the workers union really occurred. So why is it that student participations are considered not only a necessary but a driving force in these events. Throughout history there are many events that are shaped and changed due to the intervention of “student activism”, there was the Vietnam war protest college, which many saw as one of the pivotal acts which led to The United States Withdrawal from the war,

Or the infamous Tiananmen Square incidents which although ended in failure, was seen as a symbol of strength and solidarity across the world. Even in our own history of student demonstrations, it has proven a pivotal role in shaping our modern history, starting with the “Sumpah Pemuda” of 1928, giving voice to anti colonial sentiments. As well as the 1998 protest which brought about a presidential reign of 30 years to come to a close. 

But why is this? Why are the participation of a certain group so important that would chance the facet of history, to answer that question the there are three points that should be discussed.

  1. Students Represent the Intellectual community. This fact in itself is no surprise, students and learners due to their status as persons in the process of receiving education  would be expected to make decisions based on their well informed judgement that was received by extensive education. Therefore it is trusted that any reason they would have to perform a protest would be logical and justifiable instead of having said reasons based on emotion or provocation.

  2. Students and learners especially in the university level carries with them a youthful energy as well as intelligence. What is meant by this is that students on average have the energy to see that their demands and concerns be heard during a protest as well as having intelligence to back up their claims and thus maintaining its legitimacy. According to Corey Payne, president of the Students for A Democratic Society “The Passion of the Youth and the willingness to see it through in the long term is the only thing that will succeed”.

  3. Exercise of rights: The act of protest itself is an expression of rights that A citizen is entitled to, for many being a college student represents the last step before coming into full adulthood and being fully in control of their own rights and responsibilities. Therefore participating in a protest may be seen as the final step in realizing their rights and responsibilities as citizens who may take action at the most crucial moment.

Now despite your own personal preference and politics regarding the lawful cause and the whole point of the demonstrations that took place last month, it could not be discounted  that the effects it showed on society is impactful and one could not be blamed when they look upon the actions of the students with a modicum of respect out the sheer determination these student activist had in order to see that their demands are heard. Hopefully from this article some understanding regarding the major demonstrations that has taken place and its significance in our society and one take away from this is that really if for one reason or another you are compelled to join a public demonstration that be extra sure that you are fully convinced in the cause, and if you do then you are free to exercise your rights not just as a citizen but as a man who are beholden to their own rights.

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