Pamflet and Activism for the Youth
Preserving the Spirit of Youth Activism.
by Ken Jenie
The year of 2014 was a special year of youth activism, with how Joshua Wong successfully conducting the “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” youth activism certainly stole the spotlight of the news. Not only that Joshua Wong was only 18 when he organized one of the biggest social movement in Hongkong after 1997, the youngster also became the headlight the world news because he offered a fresh perspective to the activism world itself with how he held the occupy movement. His peaceful approach and the way he utilizes social media to operate his movement is a peculiar angle to the world of activism.
Though it’s quite different here in Indonesia, youth activism is a phenomenon everywhere, including our archipelago. In fact, some of the major shifts in Indonesian politics were started by the younger generation of the country. Sumpah Pemuda, The Declaration of Indonesian Independence, and the 1998’s reformation are concrete examples of how Indonesian youth have a big role in shaping the nation’s shape and future.
Pamflet.or.id is an organization that envisions to keep that youth spirit alive. Started as a project by a group of Indonesian activists from late 2012, the organization tries to capture the thirst of Indonesian youth on the field of social movement and keep the process of regeneration of youth activism alive and well. A bit after the 1998’s reformation, there was a deviation on the Indonesian youth – the generation that used to be perceived as apathetic turned into an attentive one, keen on a better state of the society. And with the fact that in the past decades Indonesia is at its peak in the productive population years, Pamflet’s idea to assist and to make a map of the Indonesian youth movement is a precise response.
Visiting the office of Pamflet.or.id, there is a big quote on their wall that says, “Idealism is the last luxury owned solely by the youth” – a quote by Tan Malaka. A very interesting way to introduce their field of work. “We have these main objectives, the first is to review the youth and their movement, second is to document the movement, third is to facilitate and reinforce their movements regarding social issues, and the last one is to ensure that the regeneration of activism in Indonesia transpires. Because the issues of human rights will alway persist, and we need the youth’s energy to keep those rights existing”, Afra Suci Ramadhan-Pamflet’s Founder & General Coordinator explains.
Taking their main concern on the human rights issue, Pamflet have three divisions; Youth Studies, Youth Movement, and Youth Activism. Youth Studies focuses on the research and building a database of youth organizations across the nation. Youth Movement is directed to build a network that connects existing youth organizations. And Youth Activism concentrates on the regeneration of activism. With their current database of almost 100 organizations from Sumatra to Papua accessible from Pamflet’s website (including downloadable monthly digital newsletter), they provide a one stop service for youth activism.
The ongoing research of Pamflet to map Indonesia’s youth activism yields interesting results, though the level of awareness regarding youth movement is quite different from the big cities to smaller cities outside Java, the youth movement is flourishing well across the nation. The rapid development of the internet and social media is major factor. “Most of the times, we pick issues to cover on the youth movement workshops, some kind of agenda setting to put the trend on the people, but recently youth from certain areas are starting to recognize their local issues, like the happenings on Ciremai, and it is a really good thing.” Afra adds.
Art also plays a big part in Pamflet’s agenda. Having a really strong connection with art institutes in Jakarta, (some of Pamflet’s founder also work at Ruang Rupa) some event held by Pamflet are related in a certain manner to the field of art. One of their recent events, “Seperlima” Pamflet invited the youth to join a youth festival held at Menteng Park that contains essay, poster competition, movie screening to music performances. Afra said, “We cannot separate art from the youth movement, it’s what makes the movement interesting and even from the 1998’ movement, and the main identity of Indonesian youth movement is its relation to art and culture. We are fully aware of this character and we try our best to incorporate as much of it into our programs.”
The impact of Pamflet’s movement is already recognized by the national government. Ministries have asked them to add some inputs to their programs. BAPPENAS (the committee of national planning and development), Health Ministry and Sport and Youth Ministry have asked Pamflet’s opinions to their plan regarding Indonesian youth. “The government used to use their own notion to make policies, without knowing what we really needed. We’re glad to finally get invited to participate in the process of policy making”, Afra adds.
Of course, it is still far from ideal. For Pamflet, there are issues that need to get deliberated in near future – the issues of human rights violations that happened in the past and the access to sexual education for the youth. They aim to open the access of sexual education to the young generation to prevent undesirable sexual mishap like unwanted pregnancies to sexually transmitted diseases. The year 2015 will also be the 50th anniversary of the 1965 tragedy, and Pamflet seeks this as an opportunity to reconcile the nation into a better state.
Find out more about Pamfelt by visiting Pamflet.Or.Id