Army Harassment Forces Aceh-Based Biweekly to Close

12 December 2003
Source: Reporters sans frontiere, Paris

(RSF/IFEX) — RSF has condemned the Indonesian army’s harassment of the independent biweekly “Beudoh”, in the troubled province of Aceh. The newspaper was recently forced to suspend publication.

The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, one Mr. Maarif, went into hiding after military intelligence officers interrogated him for 10 hours on 5 December 2003, in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh. The army personnel was critical of the content of some of the paper’s reports.

RSF called on Defence Minister Matori Abdul Djalil to do everything possible to ensure that “Beudoh” is able to resume publication and that the safety of its journalists is guaranteed.

In an article published in late November, entitled, “The Acehnese people do not need elections”, the biweekly had criticised the government’s decision to maintain martial law in Aceh and questioned the legitimacy of elections scheduled for next year.

Maarif told the Associated Press that the intelligence officers roughed him up and threatened to kill him if he did not change the newspaper’s editorial line. “To change our biweekly’s line is impossible because it is against our policy,” he said. Launched in March, “Beudoh” is opposed to martial law.

Maarif said he also refused to comply with a request from the army officers that he publish an apology and sign a letter recognising that he had published false information.

According to “The Jakarta Post”, the military authorities denied banning the newspaper and said they had only summoned the editor-in-chief to explain to him that its articles were “provocative.”


In a recent report entitled, “Muzzling the Messengers”, Human Rights Watch documented dozens of arrests, physical attacks and threats against journalists since the Indonesian government renewed its war on GAM, an armed separatist movement, on 19 May (see IFEX alert of 26 November 2003). Since the fighting resumed, General Endang Surawaya has banned the news media from reporting on rebel statements (see alerts of 16, 8 and 2 July, 30 and 27 June, 30, 26 and 23 May 2003).

For further information, contact
Vincent Brossel at RSF,
5, rue Geoffroy Marie,
Paris 75009, France,
tel: +33 1 44 83 84 70,
fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51,
The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of RSF. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit RSF.


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