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Police Attack Journalists

IFEX- News from the international freedom of expression community

ACTION ALERT - INDONESIA

29 September 2000

Police attack journalists

SOURCE: Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Jakarta

(AJI/IFEX) - The following is a 29 September 2000 letter to the national

police chief, General (Police) Suroyo Bimantoro, by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), of which AJI is a member:

September 29, 2000

His Excellency General (Police) Suroyo Bimantoro National Police Chief Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3, Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia Via Fax: 62 -21- 7207277

Your Excellency,

SEAPA condemns the brutal attack by police officers who were attempting to disperse a crowd, on two journalists, Ferry Indrawang and Andi Lala, during a rally in Ragunan, South Jakarta.

The incident happened yesterday, September 28, at 2:30 p.m. where the two journalists were covering a student rally in front of the Agricultural Department building - the venue of the Soeharto hearing.

The rally turned violent as anti-Soeharto students clashed with the former president's supporters. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, and

started sweeping and arresting the protesters.

But students were not their only target, as journalists also fell victims to the authority's bats and tear gas.

Press workers who were trying to keep dry from the rain in a telephone café nearby, started to flee the scene. Ferry Indrawang of online paper Bisik.com saw a police officer throw rocks at his colleague, Merdeka daily reporter Saefudin. He protested loudly, when suddenly another officer kicked him from the back. The cyber press reporter yelled at the officers, saying he was a journalist.

But that made matters worse.

Around ten more officers joined the onslaught, punching and thumping Indrawang as he was laying on the ground. The brutal act was finally stopped after other journalists came to the scene.

But one officer was not through with Indrawang. As he was carried to a Red Cross ambulance, the officer took one last blow with his bat, hitting the reporter on the head.

Another victim of the police sweeping was Jakarta News FM reporter Andi Lala. Like most journalists, he was standing around the phone café when officers pulled him away from the building. Lala resisted, mentioned his

profession and even flashed his press card to his attacker. But like in the previous case, the officers did not care and started beating him.

Indrawang was unconscious for almost a day. He suffered a concussion and had six stitches on his head. Lala suffered bruises all over his face and had two teeth knocked out.

As an organisation of journalists dedicated to the protection of our colleagues and the promotion of press freedom, we condemn this attack in the strongest possible sense because the incident has deteriorated the state of press freedom in Indonesia. SEAPA sees no action taken by the police to charge those involved in the attack. We demand you give more serious attention to this case. We also ask you to guarantee the safety of journalists. This attack has added to SEAPA's tally of seventeen cases of pressure and violence against Indonesian journalists by police authorities this year. The majority of these cases have been met without any disciplinary actions carried out by police superiors.

We are sure you will agree that journalists should be able to carry out their professional duties without fear of harassment and attack. Such incidents could foster a climate of fear that inhibits journalistic investigation and could promote self-censorship.

Moreover, we are sure you realise that by not taking any appropriate measures against the bad behaviour of officers, the credibility of the police could be jeopardised.

Respectfully yours,

Solahudin Advocacy Coordinator

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Similar appeals can be sent to:

His Excellency General (Police) Suroyo Bimantoro National Police Chief Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3, Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia Fax: +62 21 720 7277

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information, contact Solahudin at the SEAPA Jakarta Office, Jl. Penjernihan I Dalam No. 39 Jakarta, 10210, Indonesia, tel/fax:+62 21 570

8229, e-mail: seapajak@cbn.net.id

Or, contact the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI), Jl. PAM Baru Raya No.16, Pejompongan, Jakarta 10210, Indonesia, tel/fax: +62 21 572 7018, e-mail: jurnalis@idola.net.id, internet: www.ajikom.net

The information contained in this action alert is the sole responsibility of AJI. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit

AJI. _________________________________________________________________ DISTRIBUTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION EXCHANGE (IFEX) CLEARING HOUSE 489 College Street, Suite 403, Toronto (ON) M6G 1A5 CANADA tel: +1 416 515 9622 fax: +1 416 515 7879 alerts e-mail: alerts@ifex.org general e-mail: ifex@ifex.org Internet site: http://www.ifex.org _________________________________________________________________

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