Police attack four journalists during news coverage

[Original title: Indonesian cops attack four journalists during news coverage. Source: AJI]

Policemen attacked four Indonesian journalists while they were covering a peaceful rally staged by the Chinese group Falun Gong in Surabaya City, East Java, on 7 May 2011, media reports said.

The “Jakarta Post” identified the victims as Lukman Rozaq from Trans7, Septa Rudianto from Radio El Shinta Surabaya, TVRI cameraman Joko Hermanto and New Tang Dynasty Television contributor Eko Oscar Nugroho.

Lukman’s right eye was bruised and swollen after being hit and kicked by police.

The “Jakarta Post” quoted him as saying: “Suddenly, police in plain clothes attacked the crowd with helmets, including the journalists. I was hit from behind. I retaliated but the number of policemen in uniform was higher.”

Septa said he was beaten on the head even though he had identified himself as a reporter.

Several policemen also kicked TVRI cameraman Joko but he was able to film the perpetrators.

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) campaigns manager Megi Margiyono said their group condemns this violent action taken against the media workers.

Aside from AJI, representatives of the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI), the Radio Indonesia Journalists Alliance (Alwari) and the Television Journalists Association (IJTI) urged the East Java police to investigate the case.

As of 10 May, the internal affairs division of East Java Police has questioned 21 police officers involved in the incident, the “Jakarta Post” reported.

East Java Police spokesperson Comr. Rachmat Mulyana told the newspaper that the Chinese ambassador had asked the Indonesian government to restrict the activities of the Falun Gong movement in the country.

“The movement is banned in China. We are concerned that if we allow it to exist, it would have a negative impact on the Chinese-Indonesian community in East Java,” Rachmat was quoted by the “Jakarta Post”.

East Java Falun Gong chair Abdhy Yozari accused the Chinese government of  pressuring the Indonesian government to take repressive measures against all the activities of the Falun Gong community in East Java.

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The Allansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists or AJI) (http://ajiindonesia.org) is a founding member of SEAPA. Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, AJI seeks to promote press freedom and protect the rights of Indonesian journalists.