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Indonesia: Protests Over Assault On Two Journalist

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI),

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11 November 2002

(AJI/IFEX) - The following is a statement by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), of which AJI is a member:

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) Jakarta denounces the assault on two journalists by a Pontianak member of parliament (MP) and one of his thugs at the Pontianak Regional House of Representatives compound on November 7, 2002.

The attack occurred when a man with a crew-cut asked Anton Perdana, a reporter from the daily Equator, to follow him while the journalist was waiting to get an interview at the Golkar Party waiting room. As Perdana was about to get up, Sutarmidji Mhum, chairperson of the United Development Party (PPP) Pontianak branch, warned him against it, and the journalist sat back down. The man with the crew cut called out to the journalist a second time, while pointing to Heriansyah, a PPP faction MP, and said, "Hey, there's somebody who wants to talk to you."

Perdana approached the MP out of curiosity. Before the journalist reached the MP, however, the man with the crew-cut punched him in the face. Seeing his colleague in trouble, Rizal Ardiansyah, a journalist from Radio Volare, grabbed on to his attacker in an effort to stop the assault. Heriansyah joined the melee, pushing Perdana to the floor. Several of the thug's friends also joined in, beating on Perdana and punching Ardiansyah, as the MP clutched the radio journalist by the neck.

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SEAPA's correspondent in Pontianak reported that the assault on the journalists came in response to a news story about several Pontianak MPs who accepted bribes while visiting an area in Pontianak.

SEAPA Jakarta condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. The organisation believes that it points to a further weakening of press freedom in Indonesia. Journalists must be free to conduct their professional duties without fear of harassment or attack. Such incidents could foster a climate of fear that inhibits journalistic investigations and misleads the promotion of self-censorship.

SEAPA demands that the Pontianak Police act accordingly, as Radio Volare and the daily Equator have filed charges. SEAPA also demands that the Pontianak Regional House of Representatives tackle this case seriously as the assault committed by PPP MP Heriansyah was a disgraceful act. SEAPA, along with other media advocacy organisations, will monitor this case closely and awaits a response from both the Pontianak Police and Parliament.

Lukas Luwarso Country Director

Solahudin Advocacy Coordinator

For further information, contact the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI), Jl. LAN I no. 12 A, Pejompongan, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia, tel: +62 21 5711 044/056, fax: +62 21 5711 063, e-mail: ajioffice@aji-indonesia.or.id, seapajak@cbn.net.id, Internet: http://www.ajinews.or.id

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


PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE http://www.pmw.c2o.org

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).

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