Following the release of an article which included sections of a speech given by Deputy Mayor Muhammed Sinen at the opening of a domino tournament in Rum Village, Lamau was harassed and intimidated by relatives of the Deputy Mayor on August 29 and assaulted at his home by Sinen’s nephew the following morning.
On August 31, Sinen’s brother approached Nurcholis’ mother-in-law to demand Cermat drop the article, which quoted Sinen as saying that residents would be “rewarded” for inhaling dust from a steam-electric power plant.
Sinen’s brother said the article should be removed on the basis that the Deputy Mayor had not been on duty when the comments were made. He also stated that the piece could risk tarnishing Sinens reputation and undermine his chances at the next local election. Shortly after the incident, Cermat deleted the article from its website.
While attending a local police station to file a report of the incident, Nurcholis encountered the Deputy Mayor himself, with Sinen reportedly grabbing the journalist’s face.
Journalists and media workers are frequently the victims of harassment, intimidation, and assault in Indonesia. In the past month, at least two journalists were assaulted by public order agency officers while covering an Independence Day ceremony in Palu, Central Sulawesi.
AJI said: “We urge public officials and citizens to respect journalists’ jobs. For this assault, we demand the police conduct an immediate and thorough investigation since the harassment violates the Press Law, which guarantees media workers' safety.”
The IFJ said: “The obstruction of legitimate independent reportage by public officials and their family members is a clear act of censorship and repression of press freedom. The IFJ condemns the intimidation and assault of Nurcholis Lamau and calls on the Indonesian authorities to bring those responsible to justice.”