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Jakarta Post

Reporter traumatized by alleged sex assault

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Sat, August 27, 2016   /  07:31 am
Reporter traumatized by alleged sex assault Fight for your rights: Hundreds of journalists stage a peaceful rally to protest against violence against journalists in front of the Soewondo Air Force Base in Medan, North Sumatra, on Tuesday. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

Journalist DE now spends most of her time quietly sitting at her home in Medan. She cried every time she watched television reports about the recent Sari Rejo clash, the 25-year-old said, adding that she was suffering from severe depression after being sexually assaulted by Air Force personnel.

Accompanied by lawyers from the Medan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Medan), she reported an attack by Air Force Military Police on Wednesday. The Air Force denies that any such incident took place.

DE reportedly fainted when investigators asked her about the sexual abuse she had experienced. She said her soul felt like it was shattered when she was questioned by the military officers.

“I’m still traumatized by the ordeal and cannot forget the immoral act committed by the soldiers, who mistreated and sexually assaulted me,” DE told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

DE claimed that three soldiers had sexually attacked her as she was covering a clash between Air Force personnel and Sari Rejo residents in Medan. One of the three soldiers had sexually harassed her while the two others had physically abused her, she added.

She insisted that she remembered the faces of all the soldiers who attacked her.

She added a tall soldier had groped her breasts. “I elbowed him twice when he squeezed my breasts,” said DE, adding that the same soldier had said “indecent” words to her. He also demonstrated how he would insert a stick into her vagina.

She added that the sexual harassment took place before the second soldier hit her stomach with a stick and the third one hit her on her back. DE alleged that after the abuse and sexual harassment, the soldiers had seized her camera, cell phone and purse. They then reportedly destroyed her belongings.

Lawyer Armada Sihite said the acts of physical and sexual assault allegedly committed by the the soldiers against his client had been reported to Soewondo Airbase Military Police on Wednesday. Armada claimed the officers had made efforts to eliminate the charges of physical abuse and sexual harassment filed against them by the victim. Armada said they had tried to change both charges into ones of light assault.

A total of three journalists who said they were victims of abuse in the Sari Rejo clash have lodged cases with the Air Force: Andri Syafrin of MNC TV, Array Agus from Tribun Medan and DE from an online media. They all claim to have been assaulted while covering the clash between Air Force personnel and Sari Rejo residents.

Hundreds of airmen and officers from the Soewondo Airbase in Medan clashed with residents during a protest against the construction of flats for military personnel on a disputed 260-hectare plot of land on Aug. 15. Dozens of residents were reportedly abused and injured by the military.

Their brutal acts were captured on CCTV in two mosques, where two airmen in uniform were seen damaging an alms box, while more appeared to be picking up objects from around the damaged box. Others apparently entered the mosque with their boots on.

The Air Force commander for Western Indonesia, Vice Marshal Yuyu Sutisna, expressed deep regret and apologized over the clash that caused injuries to residents and journalists. He promised to punish all personnel who committed violence.

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