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Unexplained closure of radio station concerns IFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - March 16, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by the Indonesian Government's order to halt broadcasts by the Batam-based Era Baru radio station.

The order against the station, which broadcasts mostly in Mandarin, came on February 15.

Shortly before, Era Baru began legal action in Indonesia's Supreme Court to protest the Radio Frequency Monitoring Agency's unexplained refusal to issue it a licence earlier in the year, despite the station's compliance with relevant regulations.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), an IFJ affiliate, said in a statement this week that the agency's actions demonstrate a lack of respect for legal process. It argues that services cannot be suspended until the Supreme Court has issued its ruling.

"Media providers require consistent and transparent regulations to safeguard freedom of expression and independent media," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"The failure to provide an explanation for the order against Era Baru risks undermining freedom of the media and expression in Indonesia."

AJI alleged political bias at the agency, citing discrepancies between the treatment of Era Baru and the unlicensed Suara Metro Radio owned by the Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Police.

"Why did the Monitoring Agency take stern actions against Era Baru, while continuing to tolerate Suara Metro Radio," AJI Chairman Nezar Patria said in the statement.

Radio Era Baru director Raymond Tan has reportedly alleged that the order is due to pressure from Beijing, due to the station's regular reporting on human rights abuses in China.
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