2012, Dark Period for Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression

On-going Suppression

Press freedom and freedom of expression in Indonesia went through gloomy days in 2012 as a growing number of violent acts against journalists was recorded. AJI Indonesia noted that between December 2011 and December 2012, there were at least 56 cases of violence against journalists—higher than 2011’s 49 cases.

Of the 56 cases, there were 18 physical assaults, 15 verbal threats, 10 seizures or destruction of equipment, seven expulsions and prohibitions to cover news, and three protests followed by mass mobilizations. Moreover, there were two cases of censorship, and one each of web hacking and vandalism on an office building.

Even more alarming than these numbers, law enforcers have failed to address an overwhelming proportion of these cases of violence against journalists. Only seven of the 56 cases had been investigated either by the police or military police. Most of these cases were left unsolved, with perpetrators still roaming freely.

So far, minimal effort has also been exerted to resolve cases of violence against journalists. For instance, in the 25 November murder of Metro Manado journalist M Aryono Linggotu (aka “Ryo”), the Manado Police Department were reluctant of looking into possible links of the incident with Ryo’s critical reporting on their work.

Since the untimely death of Ryo, police have only named one suspect, a juvenile. The police’s lethargy in tracing any possible connection between Ryo’s killing and his journalistic works can only hamper the investigation into the murder motives as well as perpetrators.

The delays in bringing justice to a number of cases of violence against journalists can only be a signal an going practice of impunity for the perpetrators. Until now, the identities of murderers of journalists Fuad Muhammad Syarifuddin (Udin), Naimullah, Agus Mulyawan, Muhammad Jamaluddin, Ersa Siregar, Herliyanto, Adriansyah Matra’is Wibisono and Alfred Mirulewan have not yet revealed.

Dangerous Simplification

In reality, impunity is a common story in Indonesia, and one of its most insidious forms is by simplifying the resolution of cases with a simple “sorry” by the offender. The attack against six journalists in Padang, West Sumatra, on 29 May is a prominent example. The perpetrators attempted reconciliation with the victims of abuse, who insisted on a legal process through the military court.

In a similar case in Pekanbaru, Riau, on 16 October, the mid-ranking military officer, who attacked a journalist covering the crash of an aircraft belonging to the Indonesian Air Force, attempted in vain to negotiate with the victim to forget the case. Ironically, the case was made worse when the TV journalist who documented the incident on video was also attacked.

AJI Indonesia has documented 13 cases of violence against journalists committed by state officials. As many as 11 crimes were perpetrated by police officers, and nine cases involved military personnel.

State, military and police officials only aggravate their image with their efforts to create public opinion that cases of violence against journalists can be resolved through a backdoor negotiations between the perpetrators and the victims.  

The practice of glossing over the cases of violence against journalist reveals a dangerous trend of officials becoming more ignorant of the legal protection of journalism as a profession. This practice to simplify resolution of cases through public apologies can only boost incidents of violence against journalists.

Key cases

The year 2012 can be seen as a year of important legal milestones for the press and freedom of expression in Indonesia. Two appeals filed by a civil society coalition on access to information–which counts AJI Indonesia among its members–on the Law on Broadcasting and Law on Intelligence were declined. At about the same period, the Law on Settlement of Social Conflict was passed, restricting journalists’ rights to cover conflict areas. These legal setbacks can be seen as a defeat of the people’s right to access to information.

Police have apparently taken part in efforts to suppress freedom of expression after they banned the 4 May discussion led by Canadian writer and feminist, Irshad Manji on her book, Allah, Liberty and Love. Days later, the rector of the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta rejected a 9 May schedule to discuss the book on campus. After the discussion was moved to the office of a publishing company, a group of unidentified people stormed the venue, injuring six persons.

In this case, the police helped prevent people from openly exchanging views on this legitimate, albeit controversial, topic. Furthermore, as in other cases involving religious minorities, they have also failed to protect citizens from acts of violence committed by certain sectors, and not to mention did nothing in the aftermath.

On the positive side, the Supreme Court approved a judicial review of the defamation case of Prita Mulyasari, who was sued by a private hospital following an email complaint. The verdict helped Prita avoid six years of probation, and offered hope of better protection to the online rights of Indonesians in general.

Being essential to the protection and promotion of other human rights, the general trend in 2012 towards restriction of the right to freedom of opinion and expression may also dampen other human rights. 

On-going Suppress
Press freedom and freedom of expression in Indonesia were through gloomy days in 2012 as growing number of violent acts against journalists was recorded. AJI Indonesia noted that between Desember 2011 and Desember 2012, there had been at least around 56 cases of violence against journalists, higher than 2011 (49 cases).
Around 18 out of 56 cases were dealt with physical assaults, 15 reports of verbal threats, 10 cases of reporters having their equipment smashed or seized, seven cases of expulsion and prohibition to make news coverage, and three cases of protests followed by mass mobilization. Moreover, two other cases had to do with censorship, a case of web hacking, and one case involves vandalism on office building.
Red bars should be applied to law enforcers that have been failing to consider many cases of violence against journalists. Of 56 cases pf violence committed in 2012, only seven cases had been investigated either by police or military police. Most of the cases were left unsolved while the perpetrators are still around.
So far, no maximum efforts have been done to resolve cases of violence against journalists. As for a murder case of a journalist of Metro Manado M Aryono Linggotu aka Rio, for example, the Manado Police Department were reluctant of looking into a possible link between his profession and his killing. In fact, Ryo has been acknowledged as a journalist having critical attitude toward the Manado Police of which criminal cases had been covered by him.
Since the untimely death of Ryo on November 25, 2012, police have only named a suspect, who is still deemed a juvenile. Police’s involuntariness in tracing any possible tie between Ryo’s killing and his journalistic works may hamper the police in seeking out the motives as well as the perpetrators.
Various delays in bringing a number of cases of violence against journalists have been a signal of on going practice of impunity for the perpetrators. Until now, the identities of murderers of Fuad Muhammad Syarifuddin (Udin), Naimullah, Agus Mulyawan, Muhammad Jamaluddin, Ersa Siregar, Herliyanto, Adriansyah Matra’is Wibisono and Alfred Mirulewan are not yet revealed.
Dangerous Simplification
In reality, impunity, in which one of the forms is by simplifying cases of violence against journalist–a simple sorry, for example, would be enough– is a common story in Indonesia. A high-profile attack against six journalists in Padang, West Sumatra, committed on May 29, 2012, by military officers can be the case. The perpetrators attempted reconciliation with the victims of abuse. However, the legal process went all the way through the military court.
Another case of simplification took place in Pekanbaru, Riau, on October 16, 2012, as a mid-rank military officer, Lieut. Col. Robert Simanjuntak attacked a journalist covering the crashed aircraft of Hawk 200 belonging to the Indonesian Air Force. A negotiation to forget the case had resulted in vain. Ironically, the incident, which was clearly recorded by a video camera, was made worse by another attack toward a TV journalist who managed to document the event.
All efforts to create public opinion that cases of violence against journalists can be resolved through backdoor understanding between the perpetrators and the victims aggravated the image of state officials, military officers and the police. AJI Indonesia reported that 13 cases of violence against journalists were committed by state officials. As many as 11 crimes were perpetrated by police officers while nine other cases involved military personnel.
It is dangerous to eliminate details on the cases of violence against journalists as state officials, military officers and the police are getting more ignorant of journalists’ profession, which is backed by law. The practices of simplification will in the future boost violence against journalists.
Public Defeat and Victory 2012
can be seen as a year of defeat of press community in defending its freedom from laws and policies passed by the authorities. But it was actually more a defeat of the people over their rights of gaining access to information as well as freedom of expression.  Two appeals filed by the coalition for freedom of gaining access to information (in which AJI Indonesia is) in terms of Law on Broadcasting and Law on Intelligence were declined. About the same period, AJI also reported the passing of new Law which restricts journalists’ rights in making coverage in conflict areas: Law on Settlement of Social Conflict.
Police have apparently repressed freedom of expression as in the case of banning of a discussion presenting a Canadian book writer and feminist figure, Irshad Mandji. On the 4th of May, police intervened in the discussion and disbanded the audiences who were willing to hear a presentation on Irshad’s book entitle “Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom.” On May 9, 2012, Rector of Gadjah Mada University said no to the book discussion plan in the campus. That night, the book discussion was removed to the office of a publishing company, LKiS Yogyakarta. However, a group of unidentified people stormed the venue and injured six people.
In a way, police’s measure had helped preventing citizens from acquiring information. Police, as happened in various cases of violence against other minorities, had done nothing with regard to acts of violence committed to other citizens.  Despite a series of terrible news, a verdict from the Supreme Court on the approval to carry out a judicial review of Prita Mulyasari’s case, following a struggle of five years, offered a hope. The verdict helped Prita eschew six years of probation. Prita was not the only one benefited from the decision, but Indonesian citizens in general.
The falloff in press freedom and people’s freedom along 2012 should be considered threats as regard citizens’ basic rights. If freedom of expression and press freedom are confined, other rights may be dampened.On-going Suppress

 

Press freedom and freedom of expression in Indonesia were through gloomy days in 2012 as growing number of violent acts against journalists was recorded. AJI Indonesia noted that between Desember 2011 and Desember 2012, there had been at least around 56 cases of violence against journalists, higher than 2011 (49 cases).

 

Around 18 out of 56 cases were dealt with physical assaults, 15 reports of verbal threats, 10 cases of reporters having their equipment smashed or seized, seven cases of expulsion and prohibition to make news coverage, and three cases of protests followed by mass mobilization. Moreover, two other cases had to do with censorship, a case of web hacking, and one case involves vandalism on office building.

 

Red bars should be applied to law enforcers that have been failing to consider many cases of violence against journalists. Of 56 cases pf violence committed in 2012, only seven cases had been investigated either by police or military police. Most of the cases were left unsolved while the perpetrators are still around.

So far, no maximum efforts have been done to resolve cases of violence against journalists. As for a murder case of a journalist of Metro Manado M Aryono Linggotu aka Rio, for example, the Manado Police Department were reluctant of looking into a possible link between his profession and his killing. In fact, Ryo has been acknowledged as a journalist having critical attitude toward the Manado Police of which criminal cases had been covered by him.

 

Since the untimely death of Ryo on November 25, 2012, police have only named a suspect, who is still deemed a juvenile. Police’s involuntariness in tracing any possible tie between Ryo’s killing and his journalistic works may hamper the police in seeking out the motives as well as the perpetrators.

Various delays in bringing a number of cases of violence against journalists have been a signal of on going practice of impunity for the perpetrators. Until now, the identities of murderers of Fuad Muhammad Syarifuddin (Udin), Naimullah, Agus Mulyawan, Muhammad Jamaluddin, Ersa Siregar, Herliyanto, Adriansyah Matra’is Wibisono and Alfred Mirulewan are not yet revealed.

 

Dangerous Simplification

 

In reality, impunity, in which one of the forms is by simplifying cases of violence against journalist–a simple sorry, for example, would be enough– is a common story in Indonesia. A high-profile attack against six journalists in Padang, West Sumatra, committed on May 29, 2012, by military officers can be the case. The perpetrators attempted reconciliation with the victims of abuse. However, the legal process went all the way through the military court.

 

Another case of simplification took place in Pekanbaru, Riau, on October 16, 2012, as a mid-rank military officer, Lieut. Col. Robert Simanjuntak attacked a journalist covering the crashed aircraft of Hawk 200 belonging to the Indonesian Air Force. A negotiation to forget the case had resulted in vain. Ironically, the incident, which was clearly recorded by a video camera, was made worse by another attack toward a TV journalist who managed to document the event.

All efforts to create public opinion that cases of violence against journalists can be resolved through backdoor understanding between the perpetrators and the victims aggravated the image of state officials, military officers and the police. AJI Indonesia reported that 13 cases of violence against journalists were committed by state officials. As many as 11 crimes were perpetrated by police officers while nine other cases involved military personnel.

 

It is dangerous to eliminate details on the cases of violence against journalists as state officials, military officers and the police are getting more ignorant of journalists’ profession, which is backed by law. The practices of simplification will in the future boost violence against journalists.

 

Public Defeat and Victory 2012

 

can be seen as a year of defeat of press community in defending its freedom from laws and policies passed by the authorities. But it was actually more a defeat of the people over their rights of gaining access to information as well as freedom of expression. Two appeals filed by the coalition for freedom of gaining access to information (in which AJI Indonesia is) in terms of Law on Broadcasting and Law on Intelligence were declined. About the same period, AJI also reported the passing of new Law which restricts journalists’ rights in making coverage in conflict areas: Law on Settlement of Social Conflict.

 

Police have apparently repressed freedom of expression as in the case of banning of a discussion presenting a Canadian book writer and feminist figure, Irshad Mandji. On the 4th of May, police intervened in the discussion and disbanded the audiences who were willing to hear a presentation on Irshad’s book entitle “Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom.” On May 9, 2012, Rector of Gadjah Mada University said no to the book discussion plan in the campus. That night, the book discussion was removed to the office of a publishing company, LKiS Yogyakarta. However, a group of unidentified people stormed the venue and injured six people.

 

In a way, police’s measure had helped preventing citizens from acquiring information. Police, as happened in various cases of violence against other minorities, had done nothing with regard to acts of violence committed to other citizens. Despite a series of terrible news, a verdict from the Supreme Court on the approval to carry out a judicial review of Prita Mulyasari’s case, following a struggle of five years, offered a hope. The verdict helped Prita eschew six years of probation. Prita was not the only one benefited from the decision, but Indonesian citizens in general.

 

The falloff in press freedom and people’s freedom along 2012 should be considered threats as regard citizens’ basic rights. If freedom of expression and press freedom are confined, other rights may be dampened.

On-going Suppress

 

Press freedom and freedom of expression in Indonesia were through gloomy days in 2012 as growing number of violent acts against journalists was recorded. AJI Indonesia noted that between Desember 2011 and Desember 2012, there had been at least around 56 cases of violence against journalists, higher than 2011 (49 cases).

 

Around 18 out of 56 cases were dealt with physical assaults, 15 reports of verbal threats, 10 cases of reporters having their equipment smashed or seized, seven cases of expulsion and prohibition to make news coverage, and three cases of protests followed by mass mobilization. Moreover, two other cases had to do with censorship, a case of web hacking, and one case involves vandalism on office building.

 

Red bars should be applied to law enforcers that have been failing to consider many cases of violence against journalists. Of 56 cases pf violence committed in 2012, only seven cases had been investigated either by police or military police. Most of the cases were left unsolved while the perpetrators are still around.

So far, no maximum efforts have been done to resolve cases of violence against journalists. As for a murder case of a journalist of Metro Manado M Aryono Linggotu aka Rio, for example, the Manado Police Department were reluctant of looking into a possible link between his profession and his killing. In fact, Ryo has been acknowledged as a journalist having critical attitude toward the Manado Police of which criminal cases had been covered by him.

 

Since the untimely death of Ryo on November 25, 2012, police have only named a suspect, who is still deemed a juvenile. Police’s involuntariness in tracing any possible tie between Ryo’s killing and his journalistic works may hamper the police in seeking out the motives as well as the perpetrators.

Various delays in bringing a number of cases of violence against journalists have been a signal of on going practice of impunity for the perpetrators. Until now, the identities of murderers of Fuad Muhammad Syarifuddin (Udin), Naimullah, Agus Mulyawan, Muhammad Jamaluddin, Ersa Siregar, Herliyanto, Adriansyah Matra’is Wibisono and Alfred Mirulewan are not yet revealed.

 

Dangerous Simplification

 

In reality, impunity, in which one of the forms is by simplifying cases of violence against journalist–a simple sorry, for example, would be enough– is a common story in Indonesia. A high-profile attack against six journalists in Padang, West Sumatra, committed on May 29, 2012, by military officers can be the case. The perpetrators attempted reconciliation with the victims of abuse. However, the legal process went all the way through the military court.

 

Another case of simplification took place in Pekanbaru, Riau, on October 16, 2012, as a mid-rank military officer, Lieut. Col. Robert Simanjuntak attacked a journalist covering the crashed aircraft of Hawk 200 belonging to the Indonesian Air Force. A negotiation to forget the case had resulted in vain. Ironically, the incident, which was clearly recorded by a video camera, was made worse by another attack toward a TV journalist who managed to document the event.

All efforts to create public opinion that cases of violence against journalists can be resolved through backdoor understanding between the perpetrators and the victims aggravated the image of state officials, military officers and the police. AJI Indonesia reported that 13 cases of violence against journalists were committed by state officials. As many as 11 crimes were perpetrated by police officers while nine other cases involved military personnel.

 

It is dangerous to eliminate details on the cases of violence against journalists as state officials, military officers and the police are getting more ignorant of journalists’ profession, which is backed by law. The practices of simplification will in the future boost violence against journalists.

 

Public Defeat and Victory 2012

 

can be seen as a year of defeat of press community in defending its freedom from laws and policies passed by the authorities. But it was actually more a defeat of the people over their rights of gaining access to information as well as freedom of expression. Two appeals filed by the coalition for freedom of gaining access to information (in which AJI Indonesia is) in terms of Law on Broadcasting and Law on Intelligence were declined. About the same period, AJI also reported the passing of new Law which restricts journalists’ rights in making coverage in conflict areas: Law on Settlement of Social Conflict.

 

Police have apparently repressed freedom of expression as in the case of banning of a discussion presenting a Canadian book writer and feminist figure, Irshad Mandji. On the 4th of May, police intervened in the discussion and disbanded the audiences who were willing to hear a presentation on Irshad’s book entitle “Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom.” On May 9, 2012, Rector of Gadjah Mada University said no to the book discussion plan in the campus. That night, the book discussion was removed to the office of a publishing company, LKiS Yogyakarta. However, a group of unidentified people stormed the venue and injured six people.

 

In a way, police’s measure had helped preventing citizens from acquiring information. Police, as happened in various cases of violence against other minorities, had done nothing with regard to acts of violence committed to other citizens. Despite a series of terrible news, a verdict from the Supreme Court on the approval to carry out a judicial review of Prita Mulyasari’s case, following a struggle of five years, offered a hope. The verdict helped Prita eschew six years of probation. Prita was not the only one benefited from the decision, but Indonesian citizens in general.

 

The falloff in press freedom and people’s freedom along 2012 should be considered threats as regard citizens’ basic rights. If freedom of expression and press freedom are confined, other rights may be dampened.