Sign up for weekly updates

AJI documents 40 cases of violence against media workers in 12 months

(AJI/IFEX) - From August 2009 to August 2010, AJI documented 40 cases of violence against journalists in Indonesia. Compared to the 38 cases recorded in 2008-2009, there has clearly been an increase in the number of incidents.

The most brutal type of violence committed against Indonesian journalists consisted of assaults, of which 12 cases were documented. Among the assaults, five were perpetrated by a mob, three by mass organisations and one by university students.

Threats and intimidation have also been used extensively against Indonesian media workers, with eight cases documented. Mass organizations committed three of these offenses, politicians and unidentified individuals were each responsible for two cases, while one case was perpetrated by a mob.

There were six instances of censorship, all committed by local government officials, including personnel from local hospitals. Legal repression, in the form of the filing of defamation suits, whether criminal or civil, or subpoenas issued to witnesses, occurred five times. Members of the police were involved in three cases, while politicians and private citizens filed one case each.

Confiscation of equipment occurred four times, with bureaucrats, private security personnel, members of mass organizations and an unidentified individual each committing one violent act.

These incidents of violence took place in several provinces in Indonesia, with the highest number (seven cases) occurring in Jakarta, followed by North Sumatera, East Java and Yogyakarta (four cases each). Violence against journalists also commonly took place in Papua and West Nusa Tenggara, with three cases each. The level of danger in the last two provinces, however, should not be overlooked as assaults and intimidation tactics were rampant there.

In terms of scale and forms of violence against journalists, AJI identified hostile mass organizations as the leading enemy of press freedom in 2010.

To date in 2010, 10 hostile mass organizations have used violence against journalists. One of the cases involved members of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) against "Lampu Hijau" reporter Ocvtabryan Purwo during a liquor raid in the Petamburan area on 27 May. At that time, FPI, along with the Anti-Communist Front, also used intimidation tactics against the biggest newspaper in East Java, "Jawa Pos", after it published a biography of Soemarsono, a former member of the Indonesian Communist Party.

Moreover, members of the Hisbullah squad from Sunan Bonang division also intimidated a Solo Radio crew in Surakarta on 14 September 2009. TV One journalists Air Setyawan and Eko Joko Sarjono were prohibited by another mass organization from reporting on a terrorist-related incident in Jatiasih Bekasi on 12 August 2009.

AJI calls on all parties to refrain from committing violent acts against the press. Press Law no 40/1999 stipulates the Right to Reply as the proper legal channel for any parties to voice their concerns. If a media outlet fails to fulfil the Right to Reply, the Press Law suggests that the complaint be directed to the Press Council.

The Press Law also imposes a penalty of imprisonment on anyone hampering the press and its members in carrying out their function to seek, manage and impart information.

Latest Tweet:

Several journalists say US border agents questioned them about migrant coverage…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.