Sandals and Solidarity: Why Indonesians Are Using Flip-flops as Symbols of Protest

The wheels of justice stumbled over a pair of flip-flops this week in Indonesia, where a 15-year-old was tried and found guilty on Wednesday for stealing a pair of worn-out rubber sandals. Unfortunately for the boy, the three-dollar sandals belonged to a police officer in Palu, a small city in the province of central Sulawesi. The child admitted to taking the sandals, but says his confession came after a beating by the police officer. When news hit the public that the case actually went to trial this month, child protection advocates launched a sandal donation drive. More than a thousand dirty sandals were donated in a week and dropped off at the police station in protest.

The boy, who has only been identified by his initials, A.A.L., was released into his parents’ custody, but not before his plight sparked outrage online and across the country. “No proof was provided during the trial that A.A.L. stole the sandals,” Seto Mulyadi, from the National Commission to Protect Children, told “So what’s wrong if he just picked up a pair of sandals to use at home?”

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Categories: Asia, Indonesia

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