World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Indonesia: Media Blasts Curbs In Aceh

* Pacific Media Watch Online - check the website for archive and links:
* Post a comment on PMW's Right of Reply:


JAKARTA (Jakarta Post/Pacific Media Watch): The Indonesian media criticized on Friday new guidelines for media coverage in Aceh, saying that rules were effectively hampering the press from obtaining balanced reports on the current integrated operations in the conflict-torn province.

Bambang Harymurti, the chief editor of the daily Tempo Koran, said on Friday that the media had an "obligation to observe and tell our readers what is really going on in Aceh."

Chairperson of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Ati Nurbaiti, meanwhile, said that the media restrictions made it harder for the public to obtain a balanced report of the war.

She said that learning from the perceived success of embedded journalism in Iraq, the TNI invited journalists to cover the war in Aceh to open up the military campaign to public scrutiny.

"But now we see more constraints apparently coming from the TNI's realization of what public access can lead to -- exposure outside their control," she said.

The martial law administration in Aceh issued on Thursday a declaration banning foreigners from visiting the province and limiting the movements of foreign journalists to the provincial capital Banda Aceh and the capitals of the province's 15 regencies.

Aceh military administrator Maj. Gen. Endang Suwarya said on Thursday that the guidelines were aimed at ensuring the safety of foreigners in Aceh.

But, foreign media correspondents in Indonesia lambasted the declaration, saying the regulations had effectively banned foreign media access to the province.

The Jakarta Foreign Correspondents' Club (JFCC) sent on Friday a letter to Coordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda, urging the government to ensure that foreign journalists could travel freely to and within Aceh.

"Many of our members have reported from numerous conflict zones around the world and find the restrictions being imposed in Aceh among the most restrictive ever encountered," the JFCC said in the letter.

Foreign journalists and correspondents may report only from the provincial capital Banda Aceh and the province's 15 regency capitals. Travelling between districts requires a military or police escort.

It also questioned reports of the military banning local media from providing any reporting or video footage to foreign media.

The JFCC said that exchange of news materials was common practice in the media industry, citing for example Indonesian television showing footage from international media.

"It is a violation of press freedom that local media are now being prevented from offering their material, in turn, to foreign media," said the JFCC in its letter.

This criticism has come despite repeated discussions with government officials in the hope that the new rules would continue to facilitate coverage of the war in Aceh.

"The JFCC is deeply concerned, however, that a series of delays and constantly changing government and military rulings is in fact preventing foreign media access to Aceh," it said.

The military arrested on Friday 25-year-old Takagi Tadatomo, a Japanese freelance photographer, who took pictures of refugees in the Bireun regency.

Aceh military operation spokesman Lt. Col. Ahmad Basuki Yani said that Tadatomo did not have a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was told to leave Aceh on Thursday.

Coverage by the local media is subject to restrictions as well. The TNI bans statement from rebels while at the same time encourages the media to send embedded journalists reporting from the military side.

Speaking in a gathering with journalists last week, Aceh Military Operation Commander Brig. Gen. Bambang Darmono reminded them that Aceh was under martial law and that such stringent policies were fully legitimate.

The tighter foreign media rulings add to concerns of a lack of public scrutiny over the war. Rights abuses were rampant in the period between 1989 and 1998 when Aceh was declared a military zone. Over 10,000 people died during the 10-year military operation, mainly civilians.

Now the TNI has turned a cold shoulder to local aid groups, including the government sanctioned National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham).

Meanwhile, international aid groups and outspoken Acehnese activists have virtually left the province.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

(c)1996-2003 Copyright - All rights reserved.

Items are provided solely for review purposes as a non-profit educational service. Copyright remains the property of the original producers as indicated. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright owner for any publishing. Copyright owners not wishing their materials to be posted by PMW please contact us. The views expressed in material listed by PMW are not necessarily the views of PMW or its members.

Recipients should rely on their own inquiries before making decisions based on material listed in PMW. Please copy appeals to PMW and acknowledge source.

For further information, inquiries about joining the Pacific Media Watch

listserve, articles for publication, and giving feedback contact Pacific

Media Watch at: E-mail: Fax: (+679) 30 5779 or (+612) 9660 1804 Mail: PO Box 9, Annandale, NSW 2038, Australia or, PO Box 78028, Auckland 1002, New Zealand. New website:

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news