Groups of journalists across the country staged protests against military brutality against the press on Wednesday. The incidents of brutality occurred after an Indonesian Air Force Hawk 200 jet crashed in Kampar, Pekanbaru, Riau, on Tuesday.
Five reporters who were covering the crash—Didik Herwanto (Riau Pos daily), Andika Pratama (Vokal daily), F.B. Rian Anggoro (Antara news agency), Robi Fahrianto (Riau TV) and M. Arifin (TV One)—were beaten and kicked by members of the military. Their cameras were seized by Air Force officers during the commotion. Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Azman Yunus was quick to respond to the ensuing public outcry saying that the events were inexcusable.
Numerous journalists associations, including South Sumatra Journalists Forum, the Indonesian Photojournalists Association (PFI), the Tangerang Journalists Community, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, joined mass rallies which took place simultaneously across the country in Jakarta, Palembang (South Sumatra), Palu (Central Sulawesi), Tangerang and Bandung in West Java. Hundreds of journalists staged a protest in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta.
The journalists all want the same thing: an investigation and the perpetrators brought to justice.
“There will be no ‘peace deal’. We demand an investigation,” Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) South Sumatra chapter chairman Oktaf Priyadi said in Palembang on Wednesday.
PFI Palu chapter chairman Basri Marzuki said that the incident was a violation against the 1999 Press Law.
“You might apologize, but we still want an investigation and the perpetrators punished,” Basri said
Tangerang Journalist Working Group (Pokja) chairman Denny Irawan demanded that the Indonesian Military chief take strong measures against members of the Air Force involved in the incident, while AJI Makassar chairman Mardiana urged that the legal process should not only launched by the Military Court but also by the state court.
“Violence against journalists is a crime and, therefore, [the case] should be tried in a state court as well,” Mardiana said.
In Bandung, journalists are urging Indonesian media to stop covering Indonesian Military (TNI) events.
The journalists also called on the government to intensify the dissemination of the 1999 Press Law in order to improve understanding on how journalism works. (swd)
Multa Fidrus, Andi Hajramurni and Arya Dipa contributed reporting.