When an Indonesian media advocate gets into ‘trouble’

This is an alert from SEAPA concerning a media advocate who’s been slapped with libel and defamation charges by Indonesian police. The country’s journalistic fraternity and other concerned citizens rallied in solidarity with the media advocate. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt from this episode in neighbouring Indonesia.

 

Rallies held in five Indonesian cities in support of
media advocate charged with libel, defamation

17 November 2008
Source: AJI

Hundreds of Indonesian journalists, media activists and university
students staged simultaneous rallies in several of the country’s
major cities on November 13 to protest the filing of libel and
defamation charges against Upi Asmaradhana, coordinator of the
Coalition of Journalists against Criminalization of the Press, by
the head of South and West Sulawesi Regional Police Office.

Some 30 journalists affiliated with the Alliance of Independent
Journalists (AJI) head office in Jakarta rallied in front of the
National Police Headquarters on Trunojoyo Street. They questioned
the legal basis for the charges against Upi.  Leaders of AJI
Jakarta engaged the head of the public relations division of the
National Police, Brig. Gen. Sulistyo Ishak, in a dialogue. Both
parties agreed that AJI should file an official letter addressed to
the head of the National Police, Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri. The National Police Headquarters promised to summon the head of the South and West Sulawesi Regional Police Office, Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto, to clarify his act of filing the said charges against
Upi. 

Rallies were also carried out in several major cities in Indonesia
on the same day. In Makassar, Sulawesi province, up to 50 people
comprising members of the AJI Makassar Chapter, journalists from
various mass media and university students rallied in front of the
South and West Sulawesi Regional Police Headquarters to condemn the charges filed against Upi.  Journalists wore black clothes and had headbands which said “Stop Press Criminalization”.

In Ternate, Maluku province, up to 100 journalists from various
mass media and students from numerous universities staged a
solidarity rally in front of North Maluku Regional Police Office
Headquarters on the same day. The rallyists assembled on Hasan Esa Street and marched for two kilometers until they reached the police headquarters.  As in Makassar, demonstrators wore black as a symbol of bereavement over the suppression of press freedom. They also carried banners expressing condemnation of the criminalization of the press. Journalists met with the head of the public relations division of North Maluku Regional Police Office, AKBP SIH Harno, who promised to forward the group’s message to his superiors.

In Palu, in Sulawesi province, the head of the local AJI chapter,
Amran Amir, led a number of journalists in a protest rally in front
of Central Sulawesi Regional Police Office Headquarters. Amran
demanded that the police should not use their power and authority
to suppress press freedom and prevent journalists from voicing
their opinions.

In Kendari, South East Sulawesi province, dozens of print and
electronic journalists staged a peaceful rally in front of the
South East Sulawesi Local Parliament Office to deliver a written
statement for the National Police Headquarters asking to further
examine Upi’s case. The head of Commission A of the South East
Sulawesi
Local Parliament, Laode Ate, engaged the representatives
of AJI Kendari Chapter in a dialogue. He expressed his concern over
the case and promised to forward this issue to the institutional
meeting forum of the South East Sulawesi Local Parliament.

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