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Indonesian reporter beaten while reporting on land dispute

(IPI/IFEX) - On March 4, 2013 the International Press Institute (IPI) urged the Indonesian authorities to conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into the violent attack on journalist Normila Sari Wahyuni on Sunday, March 3.

Wahyuni, a reporter for Paser TV, a channel that airs locally in the Paser region, was attacked as she reported on a land dispute in the village of Rantau Panjang, in East Kalimantan.

According to the news website, the journalist had been filming at the location for one hour, before a villager erroneously identified her as the daughter of one of the parties to the land dispute.

Wahyuni was pulled off a motorbike, surrounded and beaten by a group of at least 16 people. writes that Wahyuni was able to identify two of the attackers, one being the head of Rantau Panjang village and the other the village secretary.

Prior to the attack the men had confiscated the journalist's camera and thrown it into a nearby pond.

As Wahyuni reported to the Jakarta Globe, the physical assault on her continued even after the journalist showed her press ID.

Wahyuni suffered physical injuries that, she said, resulted in a miscarriage after one month of pregnancy.

The journalist filed a complaint over alleged aggravated assault against the village chief.

Attacks against journalists are a major concern in Indonesia, where the Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) noted that between December 2011 and December 2012 there had been at least 56 cases of violence against journalists, compared to 49 in 2011.

Impunity remains the rule as these attacks are seldom investigated. AJI notes that, in many instances, public officials or military personnel appear to be involved.

"Cases of violence against journalists are mostly committed for the state by law enforcement officials, and continue the pattern of impunity that places perpetrators above the law," an AJI report states. "As a result, there is no deterrent effect. In many cases, people are also ignorant about the protection of journalists as a profession."

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