Punks in Aceh couldn’t be more obvious on their status in the society: they’re not wanted. The news on how they were taken by the police, shaved and then taken to a rehabilititation center to de-punk them (I hope that term indeed does exist).
The news on the mass arrest and rehabilitation has been a scoop for national and even international news agencies; the Jakarta Post, the Age, the Guardian and BBC. Naturally it became a part of general discussion. It is this general discussion that I wish to write down.
I remember this discussion because my lone position in this issue. And I’ll have to admit that even in my disagreement, I can say that I can see the concern of the opposite side. Their agreement with the Aceh authorities is based on the concern which began the whole controversy: the discomfort and insecurity faced by a part of the society by the mere sight of punks gathering.
While I do have to admit that some punk groups have been involved in unsavory acts, making the whole community a black sheep, I still contend that I disagree on the actions taken to this groups. I really wish this problem is a simple matter of having or lacking of backbones, or a more lame problem based on the prejudice when it comes to punks. Here is the thing: the insecurity raised by the punks are real. In a major part of the society that is.
The biggest problem is whether we simply can take this strong of an action to facilitate that fear. Being a country based on law, this is not supposed to happen, law acts when there has been a violation of law and not on something immaterial such as the insecurity of a society. But then again, there is the fact that in Aceh it is not the National Law but rather the Shariah Law which does what a religious law does: interfere to what the liberals would call the private domain. In this case the private domain would be how a person chooses to live his/ her life, how they dress and which subculture they should follow (in this case, it means conforming to the demand of the society of looking not-intimidating).
While this action is horrific, it is the slippery slope which brings more worry to me: the idea that the authority can act merely on the insecurity of the majority. Cause whether we want to admit it or not, it doesn’t take a lot to make the society feel insecure, as the matter of fact being different is enough. Let’s hope this case is not a precedence
Links of newspaper articles on the Aceh Punks problem:
N.B. : The usage of the term punks is not intended in a derogatory manner, it is merely a way of mentioning a group in the society which follows the punk sub-culture