Indonesia: Group wants literary festival cancelled for ‘spreading communist and LGBT values’
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Indonesia: Group wants literary festival cancelled for ‘spreading communist and LGBT values’

A LOCAL group is organizing demonstrations against this year’s ASEAN Literary Festival (ALF), accusing the event’s organizers of having “ulterior motives”.

Members of Aliansi Masyarakat dan Mahasiswa Muslim (the Muslim Community and Student Alliance) issued a press statement this morning saying that the event was merely using the human rights and social justice movement as a cover, reported Rappler.

They suspected the event of being used to promote communist and LGBT ideologies, as several discussions are scheduled to take place throughout the festival, including those covering sensitive issues like the 1965 massacre, as well as religion and radicalism.

The group announced that it planned to oppose the festival by organizing rallies to urge authorities to shut the festival down.

The group’s three demands are for the organizers to stop spreading communist teachings, as it was illegal; to push for unity between Indonesia and its easternmost province of Papua, and reject the idea of separatism; and to refrain from supporting the LGBT movement, as it “goes against human nature and Indonesia’s culture”.

According to novelist Leila S. Chudori, who is also involved in the event, there has been pressure from the authorities to cancel the discussions in question.

“The police have asked the organizers to cancel the discussions that cover the 1965 massacre and LGBT issues,” she said.

The organizers maintained that the festival, which opens today, will continue as planned. The event is scheduled to last until May 8 (Sunday) in Jakarta.

Despite the organizers’ optimism, however, the demonstrators turned up as promised today.

Even one of the rooms where a workshop is meant to take place was locked by the venue’s management, blocking access.

The demonstrators have threatened to gather in larger numbers tomorrow if the festival is allowed to go on.

Some netizens have expressed their support for ALF and its organizers via social media, condemning the attempts to stifle freedom of speech:

The ALF website states that the festival is a cultural event meant to build a bridge between the literati and the general public, with the aim to “promote the cultures, arts and literary works not only in the region, but to the broader global audience.”