For nearly three weeks, media in Indonesia have continuously reported the demonstrations against the racial abuse toward Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java. One of the protests has occurred in Jember, on Wednesday, August 28. Before the demonstration, journalists were approached by the authorities, both security officers and municipal officials directly or through group messages. The authorities have asked journalists to not cover the protest. If the journalists still wanted to publish their coverage, the authorities told them to carefully select messages from the protesters.
AJI has condemned the intervention and reminded the authorities to respect journalists’ rights to inform the issues of Papua to the public based on the fact that they got on the field. In Indonesia, freedom of the press, including to serve to the public’s rights to know has guaranteed and protected by the Indonesian Law No.40 on Press. The law also acts as a safeguard to make sure there is no censorship for the media.
“We urge all sides to allow the journalists to work freely and stop intervening in journalists and media work. We also ask our fellow journalists to follow and obey the code of ethics when they are covering the protest and not discriminate or give prejudice and stigma against one ethnicity. Implementing peace journalism in covering conflict also one of the main principle journalists should do in the current situation,” AJI said.
The IFJ said: “We support AJI in calling the authorities to stop pushing their agenda to the newsrooms. Journalists should not be dictated on the topics that they allowed to cover. It is not the task of the authorities to given permission for the newsrooms. We urge all sides to protect the freedom of the press in Indonesia and independency of the newsrooms.”