IFJ Protests Over Indonesian Government's Block on Release of Journalists in Aceh

Her Excellency Megawati Sukarnoputri
President, Republic of Indonesia
Office of the President
Bina Graha, Jalan Veteran No. 1
Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia

Via facsimile: +62-21-526-8726

Your Excellency,

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is writing to demand that your Government remove obstacles to allow the release of journalists Ersa Siregar and Fery Santoro who are being held hostage in Aceh by the GAM.

Journalist Ersa and cameraman Fery were abducted while on assignment in Langsa in Aceh, Indonesia, six months ago on 29 June 2003.

The IFJ gained agreement from the GAM to hand over the journalists on 19 August 2003. However the journalists are still being held captive because the Indonesian military, the TNI, will not allow the free movement of human rights organisations in the province to secure the release of the two journalists.

It falls squarely upon your shoulders to ensure that the TNI allows for the immediate release of these journalists.

Frankly, the Government’s delay in facilitating these journalists’ release is inexcusable and inexplicable.

The Government of Indonesia must immediately act to allow the release of these journalists. Their continued confinement is a dark stain that mars Indonesia’s human rights record both locally and globally.

These journalists would not have to stay hostage one single day more, if you would act today to allow the free movement in Aceh of human rights organisations to safely receive the journalists from the GAM.

The IFJ is calling on your Government to remove all blocks today to allow for the safe handover of these journalists to human rights organisations and to demonstrate your Government’s commitment to press freedom and journalists’ safety.

I look forward to your swift action on this issue.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Warren
President, IFJ