Fery Santoro Must Not Become The Forgotten Hostage in Indonesia, Says IFJ

The President of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Christopher Warren, today called for the international community not to forget Fery Santoro, the TV cameraman who has been held hostage by the Free Aceh Movement or Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) for almost ten months in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

Journalist Ersa Siregar and cameraman Fery Santoro were abducted while on assignment in Langsa in Aceh, Indonesia, almost ten months ago on 29 June 2003 and held hostage in Aceh by the GAM. Ersa was found dead on 29 December 2003.

Despite an agreement to hand over both Ersa and Fery on 19 August 2003 made by the GAM exiled leadership to the IFJ General Secretary Aidan White at a Stockholm meeting last year, Fery remains a hostage.

“Neither the GAM fighters in Aceh nor the Indonesian military have given Fery’s safety the priority it deserves,” said Warren today.

“Journalists are taken hostage to punish and intimidate the press. It is an act of cowardice and futility.

“Journalists and other media workers are not military forces. Their job is to keep their communities informed of what is going on in the world.

“Taking journalists hostage limits the ability of all of us to know and understand what is happening in areas of conflict.”

The International Federation of Journalists, the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, and the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen have called for an independent international inquiry into the death of Ersa Siregar, who died on 29 December after an exchange of gunfire between the GAM and the Indonesian military (TNI).

The TNI claimed responsibility for shooting Ersa, but refused an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

The Indonesian government have insisted that they will only deal with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and will not negotiate with the GAM nominated International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), compromising Fery’s safety in a standoff between the two groups.

“We must not forget Fery Santoro. Both the GAM and the TNI need to accept some responsibility for his situation. Both have an absolute responsibility to see Fery freed as soon as possible,“ said Warren.

For further information contact IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668

Further information is available on the IFJ Asia website