Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Friday offered condolences to the families of two students who were killed on Sulawesi island during protests against legislation that critics say would undermine civil liberties and anti-corruption efforts.
One student, Muhammad Immawan Randi, died of a bullet wound to his chest on Thursday when students clashed with police outside the legislative building in Kendari, the capital of Southeast Sulawesi province, police and officials said.
Another student, Yusuf Qardawi, succumbed to his injuries early Friday while being treated in a hospital, police said.
“I, on behalf of the government, would like to extend our condolences on the passing of Randi and Yusuf Qardawi, both students at Halu Oleo University in Kendari,” Jokowi told reporters.
“May everything Randi and Yusuf Qardawi fought for be of benefit to this nation and they be granted a noble place on His side,” he said.
He urged police to investigate the deaths.
“I have ordered an investigation because the national police chief told me that there was no order whatsoever to carry firearms during the rally,” he said, urging the public not to engage in speculation.
Tens of thousands of students have been holding daily demonstrations across the country against proposed changes to the criminal code that include the criminalization of sex outside marriage, cohabitation, insulting the president and most abortions.
In Jakarta, more than 260 students and 39 police officers were injured on Tuesday during clashes between police and protesters outside the national parliament building, officials said.
Violence also broke out during similar rallies in several other cities this week.
Protesters also demanded the government annul the recently passed law governing the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
KPK changes include establishing a supervisory agency tasked with monitoring the commission’s conduct and restricting its ability to wire-tap suspects.
Jokowi on Thursday sought to allay concerns that his government would roll back two decades of democratic reform.
“Don’t you ever doubt my commitment to safeguarding democracy,” he told reporters after a meeting with senior leaders and advisers at the presidential palace.
He also said he was considering issuing a decree that would annul the new KPK law.
“We will decide and inform the public soon,” he said.
Since it was established in 2002, the KPK has secured the convictions of former ministers, governors, central bankers, legislators, as well as business tycoons, making it one of the most respected and feared institutions in the country.
The bill to change the criminal code would have allowed a prison sentence of up to one year for consensual sex outside of marriage, while a couple living together without the blessings of marriage could potentially be imprisoned for up six months. The bill requires complaints from spouses, parents or children for police to press charges.
In addition, anyone convicted of insulting the president or vice president could face a prison term of up to 4½ years. Insulting the president and vice president was decriminalized by the Constitutional Court in 2016 following a legal challenge.
The parliament has postponed passage of the bill, which had been scheduled for Sept. 24, at Jokowi’s request. It is expected to be deliberated again by the next parliament, which is to be seated in October.