Government authorities closed down two community radio stations in the province of Aceh, Indonesia using physical force on July 12, according to the International Federation of Journalists’ affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).
“The use of intimidation to close these community radio stations, which are so vital in informing the public, should not be tolerated,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
The Association of the Indonesian Frequency Monitoring Board (BALMON), a government agency, along with 20 military personnel, reportedly stormed the offices of Suara Perempuan (Women’s Voice) radio station in Banda Aceh seizing its transmitter thereby ceasing broadcasting.
According to local reports, BALMON also shut down Seha Radio in Jantho, the capital of Aceh Besar on July 13.
Both radio stations were closed for supposedly operating without a licence.
The AJI cited warnings from regulators that more radio stations are facing closure for broadcasting without a licence.
Many Indonesian radio stations have reportedly not been able to obtain a licences due to a conflict between the regional Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) and the Ministry of Communication and Information over which agency has legitimate power to distribute and regulate licences. As a result, both the KPI and government have stopped issuing licences until the conflict is resolved.
According to AJI, the director of Suara Perempuan, Asni Juwita, said that the closure occurred despite assurance from KPID that it was currently reviewing the stations licence application.
Seha radio had reportedly applied for a licence prior to its closure.
“If no licences are being issued how are radio stations able to obtain them?” Warren said. “Radio is a powerful form of communication and a popular forum for discussion. The closure of community radio stations has significant effects on particular voices of the community ability to be heard.”
The IFJ calls for the restoration of Suara Perempuan and Seha Radio’s broadcasting rights, and supports the AJI in urging the regulators to be fair in assessing the circumstances of remaining radio stations by applying non-discriminatory standards.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 120 countries