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INDONESIA: Militia gang attacks Kupang journalists

* Pacific Media Watch Online: http://www.pmw.c2o.org

* See PMW item 2947


6 September 2000

Militia gang attacks Kupang journalists

SOURCE: Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Jakarta

**Updates IFEX alert of 1 September 2000**

(AJI/IFEX) - The following is a 5 September 2000 letter to the national police chief, General (Police) Roesdiharjo, by the Southeast Asian Press

Alliance (SEAPA), of which AJI is a member:

September 5, 2000

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

Your Excellency,

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) Jakarta is deeply disturbed by new revelations that other journalists have been assaulted by pro-integration East Timorese.

New information received by SEAPA-Jakarta revealed that three more journalists (aside from radio journalist Max Arthur) were attacked at an

East Timor refugee and militia rally in Kupang, West Timor.

SEAPA sources said that NTT Ekspres journalist James Ratu, NTT Ekspres photographer Matheus Riwu Rohi and Surya Timor reporter James Risfointuno were victims of militia attacks in front of the headquarters of the Kupang Provincial Parliament. A previous SEAPA-Jakarta Alert (1/8) reported that a militia gang had assaulted DMWS FM radio journalist Max Arthur.

The incident happened at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 30. Several militia leaders, including Eurico Guterres, led a convoy of 2,000 protesters with their motorbikes and pick-up trucks, seizing the Parliament. They called the event "The Day the Mother Nation Mourns", commemorating the "loss" of East Timor from the Republic of Indonesia. The protesters condemned former Indonesian president BJ Habibie for allowing the United Nations to organise a referendum in East Timor.

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As the crowds entered the parliamentary grounds, SEAPA sources reported an unidentified person yelling, "Why are you people rallying here, why not back in East Timor?"

The question angered the protesters. Frustrated, some of the crowds yelled back, "Attack!" The crowds moved toward the office - some forcing their way into the building, some threw rocks at parliamentary cars and facilities.

All of a sudden, a group of protesters turned their attention to journalists as a militia member shouted "spy" while pointing his finger at Max Arthur.

Arthur tried to flee for safety as a group of protesters (more than 10 people) ran after him. But the mob caught up and brutally punched and kicked him at the governor's office, and also took away his Marantz tape recorder and microphone.

The three other journalists - Rohi, Ratu and Risfointuno - were also captured and beaten by protesters.

As a result of the attack, Arthur suffered serious bruises all over his face, arms and ribs. His inner lips were also cut deeply. Ratu also suffered bruises on his body and legs, and Risfointuno on his left knee. Rohi suffered minor injuries.

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 terms because the incident has deteriorated the state of press freedom in Indonesia. 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.

So far, SEAPA has seen no action taken by the police to charge those involved in the attack. We demand that you give more serious attention to this case. We also ask you to guarantee the safety of the journalists. SEAPA, together with other media advocacy groups worldwide, have and will continue to monitor this case with great concern and look forward to your prompt response.

Respectfully yours,

Lukas Luwarso Director

Solahudin Advocacy Coordinator


Similar appeals can be sent to:

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

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information, contact, contact Lukas Luwarso or Solahudin at the SEAPA Jakarta Office, Jl. Penjernihan I Dalam No. 39 Jakarta, 10210, Indonesia, Telp/Fax.+62 21 5708229, E-mail: seapajak@cbn.net.id or 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 update 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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