INDONESIAN JOURNALISTS raised the alarm over the spate of violence against mediamen in Indonesia after four separate attacks on journalists in the span of a week.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) of Indonesia, a founding member of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) of which the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is also a member, says there have been at least 20 cases of violence against journalists in Indonesia from January to May this year.
The most recent was on May 29, when a dozen Navy soldiers beat up and wounded seven journalists in the Bukit Lampu region in Padang, West Sumatra. The Navy soldiers beat up the journalists, and forcibly took cameras, videotapes, and memory cards.
AJI says the attack wounded seven journalists, including Global TV journalist Budi Sunandar, Padang Express photographer Sy Ridwan, TV journalist Jamaldi, SCTV journalist Andora Khew, Trans 7 journalist Julian, Metro TV journalist Afriandi, and Atrans TV journalist Deden.
Also on that same day, villagers attacked two journalists who were covering a queue of residents lining up for fuel in Central Sulawesi.
The day before, May 28, a man dressed in an army uniform seized the camera of a BatamTV journalist who was also covering the fuel shortages in Batam City, AJI reported.
Then the week before, on May 23, journalist Joseph Dervish of the Bongkar Daily was stabbed on his shoulder by the head of the North Lampung fisheries department in front of the Kandarsyah office.
“These recent incidents add to a long line of cases of violence against journalists,” AJI reported. “AJI Indonesia has recorded at least 20 cases of violence against journalists from January to May this year.”
“”Cases of violence against journalists are mostly committed for the state by law enforcement officials, and continue the pattern of impunity that places perpatrators above the law,” said AJI advocacy division coordinator Aryo Wisanggeni G. “As a result, there is no deterrent effect. In many cases, people are also ignorant about the protection of journalists as a profession.”
“If the murders of journalists have been ignored, how can we expect action on other cases of violence against journalists? Journalists who work under the threat of violence would be afraid to report full information to the public,” Aryo said.