Attack against NGO also an attack on free expression

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) condemns the terrorist act directed against the Liberal Islam Network that also indirectly involved one of SEAPA’s founding members in Jakarta, Indonesia—the Institute for Studies on Free Flow of Information (ISAI).

A still-unidentified man delivered on 15 March 2011 a suspicious-looking package to the building housing ISAI and radio station KBR 68H in Utan Kayu in East Jakarta.

The package, which turned out to contain a bomb hidden in a book, was addressed to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, a moderate Islamic scholar who founded the Jaringan Islam Liberal (JLI or Liberal Islam Network), an organization meant to counter the rise of militant Islam in Indonesia. Ulil Abshar, who used to work for ISAI, has since 2009, joined the Democrat Party of president Susilo BambangYudhoyono. It was later reported that another book bomb was sent to him later.

The police bomb squad was called but even before the team arrived, a local policeman identified as Dohdi Rahmawan tried to disarm the bomb, resulting in its detonation. Rahmawan lost his hand and three other people were injured.

Police still have not identified the suspects behind this bombing and two other improvised explosives sent to other locations in the capital on the same day, though these incidents came at the heels of religious tension that has been gripping Indonesia recently.

This bombing incident targetted not only Ulil Abshar and his moderate Islamic group but also the staff of both ISAI and KBR 68H. SEAPA considers this an attack not only against religious freedom and tolerance but also against freedom of expression.

The Utan Kayu community (Komunitas Utan Kayu) comprising of artists and activists, was established in 1994 following the closure of three major newspapers – Tempo, Detik and Editor – under the Suharto regime.

We at SEAPA call on the Indonesian government to investigate this matter and immediately bring the perpetrators to justice. We believe that if left unchecked, these terror tactics would only escalate and pose greater danger to innocent people.

Freedom of religion and expression are essential elements of a democratic society. The Indonesian society as a whole has so far shown an impressive tolerance to different religious beliefs and support for freedom of expression. The government should continue to uphold this trait and protect it from the tyranny of the few.

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About SEAPA
SEAPA (http://www.seapabkk.org/) is the only regional organization with the  specific mandate of promoting and protecting press freedom in Southeast Asia. It is composed of the Jakarta-based Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information (ISAI); the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom andResponsibility (CMFR) and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ); the Bangkok-based Thai Journalists Association (TJA); and the network’s Kuala Lumpur-based associate member, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).
SEAPA also has partners in Cambodia, East Timor, and exiled Burmese media, and undertakes projects and programs for press freedom throughout the region.
For inquiries, please contact us at: seapa@seapa.org, or call +662 243 5579.

[Original title: “SEAPA Statement: SEAPA condemns violence against human rights advocates in Indonesia”]

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