To our brothers and sisters in Australia, struggling to defend the right of students to organise to defend their rights and oppose the unjust policies of the Australian government, we send our support and solidarity. The Australian government's voluntary student unionism (VSU) legislation is an attempt to silence student opposition.
In Indonesia we also have experience of attempts to silence us. Following the university student struggles in the mid to late 1970s, the Suharto regime banned all political activity on campus, banning the student councils set up by students to coordinate our campaigns against the policies of the regime. The impact of the "normalisation of campus life" was to depoliticise university students, so that it has taken almost 20 years to build a broad student opposition to the dictatorship.
It is clear in both cases that they fear what united action by students can achieve. They have reason to fear. In Indonesia, the students united with the oppressed sectors of Indonesian society, the peasantry, urban poor and workers, to overthrow Suharto. They tried to intimidate us, martyring four students from Trisakti University on May 12, kidnapping and torturing many activists. But they could not stop us uniting in the struggle for democracy.
If the united strength of Indonesian students can overthrow Suharto, then the united struggle by Australian students will easily defeat VSU.
There is a long history of collaboration between the governments of Australia and Indonesia against the interests of the workers, students and people of our countries. In response to this we must build solidarity and collaboration between the Australian and Indonesian people. Stop VSU!
On behalf of Student Solidarity with Democracy in Indonesia (SMID)