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Media freedom watchdogs condemn Indonesian assaults on journalists

A “journalism is not a crime” rally. Image: IFJ Asia-Pacific/AFP

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The International Federation of Journalists and the Alliance of Independent Journalists have expressed concern over reports that several local journalists have been harassed and attacked across Indonesia, reports IFJ Asia-Pacific.

A series of assaults against local journalists has occurred in different cities in the country, ranging from verbal attacks to physical assault.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI), to condemn the attacks and urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

A journalist for Radar Mandalika, Muhamed Arif, was physically assaulted and intimidated by the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) for covering protests in front of the Governor’s office in Matara, West Nusa Tenggara on August 24.

Despite declaring that he was a journalist, the officers continued their assault and prevented him from taking photos.

On the same day, chief editor of Metro Aceh Bahrul Walidin was reported for alleged defamation by a businesswoman who is also a local politician following his coverage on fraud allegations against her.

She also filed a complaint to the Press Council.

Tempo journalist’s phone seized
On September 2, a state prosecutor confiscated Tempo journalist Kukuh S. Wibowo’s phone while he was covering the hearing between the State Prosecutor Office and the Commission III of House of Representatives and Directorate General of Customs and Excise at the State Prosecutor Office Building in East Java.

The forum was held to discuss an investigative report published by Tempo on the 17 containers of illegal textile imports from China. The state prosecutor held Kukuh’s phone for approximately three hours. When Kukuh’s phone was returned, application settings had been changed.

AJI said: “The AJI urges all sides, from government officials to the private sector to respect journalists’ rights and press freedom.

“All the incidents have shown that threats against journalists in Indonesia are still high. AJI also calls on the authorities to investigate and bring all the perpetrators to justice.”

The IFJ said: “Indonesia is a challenging place to work for journalists, and ongoing harassment and attacks on journalists makes the situation all the more precarious.

“The IFJ calls on the authorities to ensure the safety of journalists in Indonesia and to reinforce to all sides of Indonesia’s political spectrum and private sector that journalism is not a crime.”

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