Indonesia: Journalists attacked while covering student protests

Journalists covering student protests in cities across Indonesia were attacked by police in a series of brutal incidents on September 24. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) condemn the systematic harassment and brutality by Indonesian police and call for immediate action by authorities to hold all perpetrators to account.

Student protests in Indonesia Credit: Agius Dian

Thousands of university students held rallies across Indonesia this week to protest the revision of several Indonesian laws in Jakarta, Bandung, Garut, Solo, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Malang, Palembang, Medan, Denpasar, Makassar and Palu. AJI said some journalists covering the rallies were injured by police, while others were intimidated to stop filming or were asked to delete the videos.

At least four journalists were attacked during the Jakarta protests. According to AJI Jakarta branch, a journalist for Kompas Nibras Nada Nailufar was intimidated by police to delete footage of alleged police brutality against a protester near the Jakarta Convention Centre during the evening of September 24. Vanny El Rahman, a reporter of IDN Times, was assaulted and also pressured to erase a video of police violence in Slipi, in West Jakarta. Tri Kurnia Yunianto, of Katadata, and Febrian Ahmad, of Metro TV, were attacked in Jakarta. Despite showing a press card, police confiscated Kurnia’s mobile phone and deleted a video of police firing tear gas at protesters. In a separate incident, Metro TV’s Febrian Ahmad was set upon by a mob of protesters who attacked his work car with sticks and stones. 

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, AJI Makassar reported that three journalists were assaulted by police at a rally in front of the regional legislative council. Journalists Muhammad Darwi Fathir, of Antara news agency; Saiful, of; and Ishak Pasabuan, of Makassar Today; were physically attacked by police during police clashes with student protesters. In Palu, on Central Sulawesi, police snatched the camera of Rian Saputra, a journalist with public broadcaster TVRI Central Sulawesi and demanded he delete videos.

AJI calls on authorities to investigate the attacks and urged Indonesia’s Press Council to establish an independent task force to deal with violence inflicted against journalists during the mass protests in the country.

AJI Chairman, Abdul Manan, said: “We must remind all sides to respect journalists’ safety while they are on the jobs. We also ask newsrooms to provide tools to keep journalists safe.”

The IFJ said: “We condemn the attacks against journalists in Indonesia while they are endeavouring to do their jobs and report in the public interest. Indonesia’s authorities need to respect the media’s role and ensure every effort to ensure the safety of journalists while they are covering protests.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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