10 March 2003
1. Tomy Winata
Artha Graha Group
Jl. Jendral Sudirman, Kav. 52-53, Central Jakarta
Ph: +62 21-5152020/5152088
Fax: +62 21-5152570
2. Police Commissioner Sukrawardi Dahlan
Central Jakarta Police Headquarters
Jl. Kramat Raya 61, Central Jakarta
Ph: +62 21-3909425
Fax: +62 21-3909425
JAKARTA — Saturday, March 8 2003 was a dark day for press freedom in Indonesia, and particularly the Tempo magazine, as thugs from the Artha Graha Group (GAG) and Banteng Muda Indonesia (BMI) rallied outside the magazine’s offices and assaulted its chief editor and journalists.
The mass of more than 200 men held banners and yelled obscene languages at 10am, and tried to crash the gate. They were protesting against a Tempo article: “Is Tommy Behind ‘Tenabang’?” issued in the March 3 – March 9 2003 edition where the magazine reported that contractor Tomy Winata had lodged a Rp53 billion renovation proposal to the Jakarta administration last February. Tempo described Mr Winata as a “big garbage collector”.
The protesters demanded Tempo to correct its article, apologise and reveal its sources. During negotiation between Mr Winata’s men and Tempo staffs, one of the protesters threw a wooden tissue box to Tempo editorial staff Ahmad Taufik. But Taufik blocked the box, hitting reporter Abdul Manan, cutting his upper cheek. Manan was later taken to the hospital for treatment.
As the talks got heated, the leader of the protesters, David (AKA A Miauw), approached and threatened the journalists: “If no one is brought to the police, I could not guarantee if anything happens to Tempo,” he said. “The mass is already fuming.”
Eventually, Chief Editor Bambang Harymurti, and editors Karaniya Dharmasaputra and Ahmad Taufik went to the Police Headquarters. While bargaining with the protesters, Harymukti and Dharmasaputra were punched by a Winata supporter who is employed by Artha Graha Group Company.
As an organisation dedicated to protect journalists and promote freedom of the press, SEAPA Jakarta deplores the act of these protesters. Tomy Winata and his supporters are provided legal method as well as the right to respond. Violent approach would further deteriorate freedom of the press, an essential recipe for democracy. Mr Winata and his supporters must realise also that Article 4 (Paragraph 4) Regulation No. 40/1999 guarantees confidentiality of news sources.
SEAPA also demands the police to uphold justice in handling this case by prosecuting those responsible for the attack, especially those ordering it. SEAPA and other media advocacy organisations worldwide will monitor this case closely.
Lukas Luwarso Solahudin
Country Director Advocacy Coordinator