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Media groups call on Indonesian president to tackle country's impunity record

Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo (C) speaks with journalists at city hall in Jakarta, 12 August 2014
Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo (C) speaks with journalists at city hall in Jakarta, 12 August 2014

REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

This article was originally published on ifj.org on 4 November 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the South East Asian Journalist Unions (SEAJU) in urging Indonesia's government to push for justice for journalists killed in the line of duty. The new government under President Joko Widodo must commence serious investigations into the eight unresolved murder cases against journalists in the country and ensure Indonesia rids itself of its impunity record, the SEAJU said.

As the key forum for journalist unions in Southeast Asia, SEAJU remains concerned about the high rates of violence against journalists in Indonesia.

In 2013, there were 40 reported cases of journalist attacks and 56 cases and 49 cases in 2012 and 2011 respectively. Since 1996, there remain eight murders of journalists that are unresolved.

The SEAJU and IFJ have called upon the new President Joko Widodo to give his commitment to resolving these killings and bringing the perpetrators to justice:

1. Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, a former journalist with the Yogyakarta Daily Bernas, died from injuries sustained during a beating by unidentified assailants, August 16, 1996, in Yogyakarta.

2. Naimullah, Naimullah, a reporter for Sinar Pagi, was found murdered at July 25, 1997, in Pantai Penibungan, West Kalimantan. His mutilated body, with stab wounds in his neck and bruises on his head, temples, chest, and wrists, was discovered in the back seat of his car in Pantai Penibungan.

3. Ersa Siregar, Siregar, a senior reporter with private Indonesian channel Rajawali Citra Televisi (RCTI), was shot and killed during a gun battle between Indonesian military forces and separatist rebels in the war-torn Aceh Province, at December 29, 2003, in Aceh. Siregar, 52, was kidnapped on June 29 by rebels from the Free Aceh Movement, also known as GAM.

4. Herliyanto, a freelance journalist died at April 29, 2006, in Probolinggo, East Java. He was killed by a group of assailants while riding his motorcycle in a forested area connecting the villages of Tulupari and Tarokan in the Banyuanyar district, Probolinggo. Herliyanto was stabbed in the stomach, neck, and head.

5. Ardiansyah Matra'is, a reporter for the local broadcaster Merauke TV, died at July 30, 2010, in Merauke. A rescue team found the body of Matra'is near the Gudang Arang River, two days after his family reported him missing in Merauke, a small town on the southern tip of Papua province.

6. Ridwan Salamun, a former correspondent for Sun TV, died on August 21, 2010, in Tual, Maluku Islands. Salamun was covering violent clashes between local villagers in the southeastern Tual when he was stabbed repeatedly.

7. Alfrets Mirulewan, Chief Editor of the Pelangi Weekly, died December 17, 2010, in Kisar, Maluku Islands. Mirulewan's body was found with apparent bruising on a remote beach in Kisar, one of the eastern Maluku Islands, after he was missing for two days.

8. Muhammad Jamaludin, 30, a cameraman for the Indonesian state broadcast network TVRI, was kidnapped on May 20, 2003 by unidentified gunmen at his office in Banda Aceh, the administrative center of the Aceh Province. His body was later found in a river, with his hands tied and wounds all over his body in Lamnyong on 17th June, 2003

"President Joko Widodo and his government must make it clear that the murders of journalists do not go unpunished. Journalists killed without justice foster a culture of fear and impunity and obstruct Indonesia's democracy," IFJ Asia-Pacific Acting Director, Jane Worthington, said today.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Asia Pacific, in association with its affiliates, has launched a 22-day End Impunity Campaign for attacks on journalists and media workers this month from November 2 to 23 – the 5th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre of 32 journalists in the Philippines.

In the Asia-Pacific last year, a journalist was killed at the rate of one every ten days. Already in 2014, 33 journalists and media workers have lost their lives according to the IFJ's killed list.

The IFJ Asia-Pacific will this year focus its efforts on Pakistan and the Philippines where impunity for journalist killings is rife and governments and authorities have failed to secure justice for journalist attacks and killings in most cases. It also launches its "22 Days - 22 Stories" campaign to highlight individual cases, stories and information on impunity in the region.

The IFJ calls on journalists and media workers to follow and share the campaign #whatareyoudoing? #endimpunity on Twitter @ifjasiapacific and join the campaign by liking us at www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

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