TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jakarta has denounced the intimidating demonstration organized on Friday by the Islam Defenders` Front (FPI) at the Tempo magazine headquarters.
In a press statement received on Saturday, the AJI noted that the FPI should have lodged its complaint over a caricature published by Tempo by exercising the right to reply or the right to correct or should have sent it to the Press Council in accordance with the Press Law.
"The mass protest by FPI at the Tempo mass media office was a form of intimidation, pressure, and threat to the freedom of press. The action could trigger a sense of fear among journalists and media to be critical and independent. Now, it is Tempo. It is highly likely that in future, other media outlets could encounter a similar situation when they publish critical journalistic work against certain groups in the community," Ahmaf Nurhadim, the chief of AJI Jakarta, remarked.
The caricature published by Tempo portrays a man in a white robe sitting in front of a woman. FPI has interpreted the man "who would not as yet go home" as its leader Rizieq Shihab, who is now still in Saudi Arabia after being mired in several legal cases.
AJI Jakarta stated that the publication of the caricature was protected under the press law.
"It is not a criminal act," AJI Jakarta stated.
AJI Jakarta revealed that the protest demonstrated that FPI had no understanding of the press law.
Mobilizing the masses to apply pressure on the media to admit guilt runs counter to the principles of democracy and the press freedom act, AJI Jakarta affirmed.
"The right to judge whether a journalistic work goes against the ethics code comes under the authority of the Press Council and not others," Nurhadim pointed out.
AJI noted that Tempo had carried out its press functions in line with Article 4 of the Press Law, developing public opinion based on correct, accurate, and right information and conducting supervision as well as voicing criticism and offering suggestions on matters related to public interest.
According to the AJI, Tempo has upheld democratic values and human rights, promoted supremacy of the law, and honored diversity in line with Article 6.
In view of this, coordinator of advocacy of AJI Jakarta Erick Tanjung stated that the demonstration, aimed at intimidating the mass media, should not be organized by any group in future.
"In case a dispute arises, select the venue regulated by the press law, use the right to reply and right to correct, or send a complaint to the Press Council," he emphasized.
He noted that the media is also obligated to publish immediately the right to reply or correct a statement submitted by the concerned party.