AJI Condemns Intimidation against Journalist

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Jakarta branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has condemned intimidation against Rappler.com journalist Febriana Firdaus when covering the anti-communist symposium held on Thursday, June 2, 2016 in Jakarta.

    AJI Jakarta viewed that the intimidation, perpetrated by a number of individuals wearing attributes of the Islam Defender Front (FPI) and the State Defense Movement (GBN), threatened press freedom and democracy values.

    "Their actions violate the law on the press," AJI Jakarta chairman Ahmad Nurhasim said in a press release on Friday, June 3, 2016 in Jakarta.

    According to Nurhasim, the intimidation could happen to other journalists on the field.

    "Anyone who takes objections to any news coverage can submit clarifications and corrections to editorial, or report it to the Press Council," Nurhasim added. "That is the proper way as governed by the law in a democratic country."

    The intimidation occurred when Febriana interviewed activists with the Indonesian Catholic Students' Association (PMKRI). The activists came to the venue to protest their logo removal from the symposium.

    In the middle of the interview, a man wearing a white turban and FPI attributes came to Febriana and yelled, "This is Febriana. She frequently makes false story."

    Other men wearing turbans and a man wearing GBN attributes followed and prohibited the journalist publishing a story about the PMKRI's logo removal. In a threatening tone, the man pointed to Febriana and said, "I have your photo. If you publish the story you will be arrested."

    The number of the angry mob quickly grew and yelled at Febriana. They said that they did not like news published on Rappler.com. The situation heated, and Febriana was banished from Balai Kartini.

    Nurhasim said that the intimidation has caused humiliation against journalists.

    "Press and journalists have the right to look for, retrieve and spread out ideas and information," Nurhasim argued.

    Nurhasim explained that press also served a function to monitor affairs related to public interests and fight for justice and the truth. The intimidation and the banishment, Nurhasim said, was an act of preventing public from having accurate information on an event.

    AJI Jakarta’s advocacy division coordinator Erick Tanjung said that preventing journalists from covering stories violated the law. Article 18 of the law on press states that anyone deliberately violates the law by preventing journalists from doing their job shall face a maximum prison sentence of two years or a fine of Rp 500 million (US$34,500).