Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Challenging a Home Country: A Preliminary Account of Indonesian Student Activism in Berlin, Germany

Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Challenging a Home Country: A Preliminary Account of Indonesian Student Activism in Berlin, Germany

Article excerpt

This article gives an overview on Indonesian student activism in Berlin, Germany. Based on documents (published and unpublished), interviews, and conversations with former and current student activists, the paper scrutinizes the trajectory of activism of Indonesian students in the capital of Germany since the 1960s and asks about the evolution of specific student organizations, the issues and topics they tackled, and their media and networking strategies. The article illustrates the activities of the PPI Berlin as a dominant example of Indonesian students' political activism abroad and the activities of Indonesian Muslim students as a prominent example of religious-based activism which has gained significance since the fall of Suharto. These examples indicate the diversity of Indonesian student activists in Berlin that are nevertheless united in their aspirations to challenge politics back home.

Keywords: Anti-Suharto Protests; Berlin; Indonesian Student Activism; Indonesian Student Associations; Religious-Based Activism

Dieser Artikel gibt einen Überblick über den Aktivismus indonesischer StudentInnen in Berlin, Deutschland. Anhand von veröffentlichten und unveröffentlichten Dokumenten, Interviews und Gesprächen mit früheren und derzeitigen studentischen AktivistInnen wird die Entwicklung dieses Aktivismus seit den 1960er Jahren untersucht und nach der Entstehung von einzelnen StudentInnenorganisationen, den behandelten Themen sowie den Medien- und Netzwerkstrategien gefragt. Der Artikel zeigt die Aktivitäten der PPI Berlin als Beispiel für politischen Aktivismus von indonesischen StudentInnen im Ausland und die Aktivitäten von indonesischen muslimischen StudentInnen als Beispiel für religionsbasierten Aktivismus, der seit dem Fall von Suharto an Bedeutung gewonnen hat. Diese Beispiele zeigen die Vielfalt von indonesischen studentischen AktivistInnen, die dennoch in ihren Bestrebungen, auf politische Prozesse im Heimatland einzuwirken, vereint sind.

Schlagworte: Anti-Suharto Proteste; Berlin; indonesische Studentinnenvereinigungen; indonesischer studentischer Aktivismus; religionsbasierter Aktivismus


The political position of students (mahasiswa/i) in Indonesia has been a determining factor at key junctures since the colonial era. This was most evident in the course of the downfall of Suharto in 1998 (Aspinall, 2005; Botz, 2001, p. 39; Eklof, 2004, p. 297), as Indonesian students not only played a critical role in their home country, but some of them living abroad also contributed remarkably to this change in leadership. Already during Dutch colonial rule, Indonesian student associations in the Netherlands were engaged in struggling for the independence of Indonesia. For instance, Mohammad Hatta through Perhimpunan Indonesia (Pi, Indonesian Student's League), Syahrir, and many others who studied in the Netherlands were active in persuading the international community to lend their support to the independence of Indonesia (Mrázek, 1994; Rose, 2010).

This paper seeks to highlight the activism of Indonesian students in Berlin from the 1960s until today. in order to do so it poses the following question: How have Indonesian students abroad organized their political activism, built networks, and sustained consistency in order to express their critical stance towards events at home? in particular, the article focuses on Indonesian student activists in Berlin-based campaigns between the 1970s and today: What issues have been preferred, what media used, and what networks established? Finally, this paper also illustrates nuances between the activism of secular student movements and religion-based student activism. The current capital of Germany is the center of this article's analysis since most Indonesian students in Germany, estimated to number perhaps a thousand, currently reside in Berlin.1

This study is based on written documents (published and unpublished), interviews and conversations with former and current student activists, and on personal participatory observation with former and current students who lived and studied in Berlin from 2010 to 2013. …

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