Indonesia: Arson attack targets journalist and press group

Indonesian journalist Asnawi Luwi’s house was burned down, followed by an arson attack at the office of the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) two days later in what is believed to be a related incident. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia to condemn these attacks and call on the authorities to hold the perpetrators to account.

The house following the fire. Credit: Asnawi Luwi

At around 2am on July 30, Asnawi, his wife and their three children were asleep when their neighbour noticed their house burning in the village of Lawe Loning Aman, South East Aceh. Although their house burnt down, Asnawi and his family were able to escape through the backdoor after being woken up by their neighbour.

Two days later on August 1, the PWI office was also targeted in the middle of the night, burning down the front door of the building. The flames were stopped before the whole office burnt down.

Asnawi, who works for and is a member of the PWI, has also been a target for death threats, calling to end his reportage on corruption. In an investigation Asnawi’s wife recalled that on July 27, a man came to their house looking for Asnawi and asked for his mobile phone number when told he was in a meeting in the capital city, Banda Aceh. The identity of the attacker is still unknown.

In a statement the AJI said, “We… demand the authorities to improve the safety of journalists and press freedom in Indonesia. It is also important to remind all sides to follow mechanism regulated by the Press Law. If any group feel [sic] unsatisfied or offended by the journalistic work, they can use the the right to reply and right to correct. The party can also send a complaint to the Press Council".

The IFJ said: “We condemn the two arson attacks and demand the perpetrators to come forward. The incidents point to a lack of safety measures put in place for journalists in Indonesia and therefore call on the Indonesian government to foster press freedom and journalists’ rights.

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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