10 March 2003
Charter 2000-Aliran, a Malaysian citizens’ media initiative, condemns the March 8 mob attack on the office of Tempo newsmagazine in central Jakarta.
Some 200 people attacked the office to demand the retraction of an article in Tempo’s March 3 edition. The piece allegedly insinuated links between businessman Tomy Winata’s plan to renovate a market and a fire that destroyed it.
We call on the Indonesian authorities to investigate this shocking incident thoroughly. The Jakarta Post reported that police were present when Tomy’s supporters attacked the offices and injured a journalist. According to the daily, Tempo magazine chief editor Bambang Harymurti and editor Ahmad Taufik were beaten by several protesters as they waited for a meeting with the protesters at Central Jakarta Police headquarters.
Tomy was reported as saying he had no idea about the attack and it was simply the idea of his men, who were members of his Artha Graha Group and the Indonesian Young Bulls (BMI), a youth organization belonging to President Megawati Soekarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.
To its credit, Indonesia has press freedom laws that penalise those who prevent journalists from disseminating information to the public. If Tomy’s supporters were unhappy about the Tempo article, they should have insisted on the right of reply instead of taking the law into their hands.
We regard the attack on Tempo as an attack on press freedom and we would like to express our solidarity with the journalists in Tempo.
Anil Netto and Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN) (National Consciousness Movement)
103 Medan Penaga, 11600 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 (0)4 658 5251 Fax: +60 (0)4 658 5197
ALIRAN is a reform movement dedicated to Justice, Freedom, and Solidarity
and is listed on the roster of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations