SEAJU criticises attack on media during press freedom event in Indonesia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU) express strong concern over the dispersal by police of the World Press Freedom Day commemoration in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by our member-union and fellow affiliate in the International Federation of Journalists, Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI).According to reports, Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), Yogyakarta organized a World Press Freedom Day rally on Tuesday, May 3, which included showing the movie Pulau Buru Tanah Air Beta ( Buru Island My Motherland ), directed by Rahung Nasution. According to the Jakarta Post, the police intervened in the event after they were pressured by Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans' Children, or FKPPI, who objected to the screening.Yogyakarta Police officer Com. Sigit Haryadi said the screening had the potential to create conflict as local residents had rejected the event and so, the screening should be halted for security reasons.In a statement, AJI president Suwarjono said: “Just when the whole world commemorates World Press Freedom Day, contempt of rights for press freedom and freedom of expression was blatantly displayed in Yogyakarta. This shameful act of a group of people forcing their interest has only caused Indonesia’s rank in press freedom plummets deeper… The dismissal of the rally by the police on the grounds of differing views of a certain group has shown that the police are being discriminative.”SEAJU criticized the police actions, stating in a statement: “We, member-unions of SEAJU, stand by our colleagues in AJI and call on the Indonesian government to pledge that it will not tolerate the suppression of free expression and such displays of intolerance. In this light, we urge an investigation into the Yogyakarta incident.”“We pledge ourselves to continue defending and promoting freedom of the press and of free expression throughout the region,” said SEAJU.The IFJ said: “We stand with AJI and SEAJU in strongly criticizing the actions of the Yogyakarta police in shutting down the World Press Freedom Day event. WPFD events are designed to bring together the media and society to celebrate press freedom and freedom of expression. However the actions of those in Yogyakarta only work to weaken the state of press freedom and threaten the solidarity of the media community and society.”

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