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Police in Yogyakarta shut down World Press Freedom Day event

Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer in his Jakarta home, August 1986; his most famous work The Buru Quartet was composed during his years of imprisonment on Buru Island
Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer in his Jakarta home, August 1986; his most famous work The Buru Quartet was composed during his years of imprisonment on Buru Island

AP Photo/Charlie Hanley

This statement was originally published on seapa.org on 6 May 2016.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) strongly condemns police authorities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for forcing the cancellation of an event by the local chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI) on 3 May 2016.

AJI Yogyakarta planned to screen the film Pulau Buru Tanah Air Beta (Buru Island My Motherland) as part of its World Press Freedom Day commemoration.

The political documentary, about the seclusion of some 12,000 political prisoners in Buru during the anti-communist purge of the 1960s in Indonesia, earlier became controversial after a March screening in Jakarta was also stopped by the police as a "safety precaution" against threats to protest.

SEAPA believes that, in such instances, the police are duty bound to protect the organizers' right to freedom of expression. Their action should have been to prevent violence threatened by groups opposed to the activity.

It is especially deplorable that this incident coincided on a day meant to highlight the importance of promoting and protecting universal human rights - freedom of opinion and expression, of the press, and access to information. Instead, the police have bowed to the demands of a group to ban the event and thus, turned a blind eye to intolerance.

We join our member, AJI Indonesia, in calling for an investigation of the incident and holding the police accountable.

Please click here to read the English translation of AJI Indonesia's statement and report.
You can also read the original statement in Bahasa Indonesia on the AJI website.

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