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The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 09/01/2011 3:13 PM

Some professors of the University of Indonesia (UI) are planning to meet to discuss plans to remove the embattled rector Gumilar Rusliwa Somantri following the controversial decision to award an honorary doctorate to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a leader whose commitment to human rights has been seriously questioned by labor activists.

Spokesman for the group of professors, Thamrin Amal Tamagola, said that the professors would meet at the residence of senior professor Emil Salim on Thursday to discuss further action.

"Today, most of the professors who agree with the plan [to unseat the rector] will gather at the residence of Prof. Emil Salim," said Thamrin, who is himself a professor of Sociology at the university, as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday.

"We also have support from most elements among the student associations to go ahead with the plan to topple the rector," Thamrin asserted, adding that the dismissal of Gumilar from the rector’s position would also be approved by the association of UI alumnae (Iluni).

"They [the alumnae] plan to stage a rally by collecting stones inscribed with the names of Indonesian migrant workers beheaded in Saudi Arabia," he said, without detailing when the demonstration would be held.

UI has come in for a storm of protest for awarding the degree to King Abdullah, only two months after the beheading of Ruyati binti Satubi, an Indonesian maid who was convicted of murdering her employer — a crime she committed in response to allegedly repeated torture.

Gumilar was quoted by news portal arabnews.com as saying that the degree was awarded in appreciation of the King’s efforts in promoting moderate Islamic teachings, supporting peace in Palestine and promoting interfaith dialogue.

“The university appreciates the King’s humanitarian efforts and his endeavors to promote science and technology,” said Gumilar.

However international human rights organizations have criticized Saudi Arabia over many years for its treatment of migrant workers. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report notes that domestic workers from Indonesia “frequently endure forced confinement, food deprivation and severe psychological, physical and sexual abuse”.

There are an estimated 1.5 million Indonesian maids currently working in the kingdom, with 23 on death row.

  1. mithaa2119 posted this