Journalists working in Indonesia
continue to live with the burden of violent reprisals in carrying out their
duties to inform people of what’s happening in their communities, a new report
The 2010 Enemy of Press Freedom report by
the Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI), an IFJ affiliate, documents 40 cases of
violence, threats, intimidation and censorship against journalists and media
workers from August 2009 to August 2010. In the previous year 38 cases were
have the right to exercise their duties free from the threat of violence and
intimidation,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
“Indonesia’s authorities must ensure
that all incidents of assault and other forms of intimidation are fully
investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
AJI’s report concludes that the main
enemies of press freedom in Indonesia
in the past year are fundamentalist and militant groups which organise their members
to mount mass intimidation of media personnel and outlets.
Ten such organisations were found to
have used such tactics against journalists and media outlets in the past year, including
the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), the Anti-Communist Front, Hisbullah Militia,
Forum Betawi Rempug (Forum of Betawi Etnic), and Jawara (traditional warlord).
The number of people involved in the
incidents perpetrated by mass organisations varied widely, from five to
hundreds of individuals.
In one incident in August 2009, dozens
of members of Islamic Laskar (Islamic Warrior) obstructed TV One journalists
Air Setyawan and Eko Joko Sarjono from reporting a terrorist-related incident
in Jatiasih Bekasi, West Java province.
In September, dozens of Hisbullah
members intimidated and threatened a Solo Radio crew in Surakarta,
Central Java after broadcasting a song of Genjer-Genjer. The popular folksong,
which tells of the miserable life of poor peasants, has been banned since 1999
as it was associated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
On September 2, 2009, 150 members of
FPI and the Anti-Communist Front threatened and intimidated Jawa Pos, the biggest newspaper in East
Java, after it published a series of articles profiling of Soemarsono, a former
member of Indonesia’s
Communist Party and a key figure in the 1945 Battle of Surabaya during the Indonesia National
Of the 40 cases documented by AJI, ten
involved mass organisations, seven were committed by bureaucrats, five by
police, seven by members of the public, three by politicians and two by business
men. Other incidents were perpetrated by a member of the military, a private
security worker and a student.
The highest number of violent
incidents (seven cases) occurred in Jakarta,
followed by North Sumatra, East Java and Yogyakarta,
with four cases each.
Papua and West Nusa Tenggara recorded
three incidents each. However, AJI stresses the level of danger for media
personnel working in these far-eastern provinces is high, with assaults and
intimidation rampant but not regularly reported.
Mass intimidation organised by such
groups commonly compelled media personnel and outlets to censor their
reporting. In some instances, local politicians also forced media to censor.
Six cases were recorded of local government officials, including personnel from
local hospitals, demanding censorship or other reporting restrictions.
Aside from unofficial censorship,
AJI reports six cases where the legal system was used to repress news
reporting, through both criminal and civil defamation suits. Three of these
cases were filed by police.
“The IFJ joins AJI in urging all groups
– including authorities and members of the public - to use civil processes to deal
with complaints about media content, rather than resort to violence,
intimidation and criminal charges,” Park said.
Press Law no 40/1999 stipulates the
right of reply as the proper legal channel for voicing concerns about media
content. If the right of reply is not granted, a complaint can be directed to Indonesia’s
Under the law, anyone obstructing the
press in carrying out their professional duties to keep the public informed may
be liable to a jail term.
of Press Freedom Report was released in conjunction with AJI’s Annual Report, which
forensically analyses the overall status of Indonesia’s media in 2009.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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