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Attacks against journalists continue

(AJI/IFEX) - The following is a press release by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) - Jakarta Office, of which AJI is a member:

Continuous Attacks Against Indonesian Journalists

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) Jakarta Office is greatly alarmed over the continuous attacks against Indonesian journalists in the line of duty. SEAPA has documented a number of incidents which threaten journalists from doing their jobs.

On March 3, in Medan, North Sumatera, Kadispen Polda Sumatera Utara (the head of the Information Division of the Sumatera Utara Police Office), Police Lieutenant Colonel Amrin Karim, threatened to slap a Radar Medan journalist named Salamudin. Amrin also insulted other journalists. "You are dogs," Karim yelled to the journalists. Karim was mad after he was boycotted by journalists who were not satisfied with his answers to their questions, which they considered rude and inappropriate.

Meanwhile, on March 7, in Surabaya, East Java, a Surya photographer, Erik Siswanto, was punched by PDIP (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan) security men while taking pictures of the inauguration of Surabaya's mayor and vice mayor at city hall. At the same time, the camera of a photographer, Trisnadi, was broken by a member of security.

On March 9, in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Menara journalist Hoesin KH was kidnapped and tortured by unidentified assailants. Hoesin was kidnapped while on his way to the governor's office. He was pushed into a car by two men, and three other men were waiting for Hoesin inside the car. They took Hoesin around the city, interrogating him and beating him up, accusing him of spreading information on a forestry fund corruption case in East Kalimantan. Afterward, they released him by throwing him out of the car. The following day, March 10, Hoesin also got a death threat from a stranger.

On March 12, in Solo, a photographer was again beaten by PDIP security men. Sigit Tri Pamungkas, from the Libero tabloid, was beaten by a member of party security staff while taking pictures of a soccer match.

SEAPA Jakarta Office sees these incidents as major obstructions to press freedom. SEAPA sees that press freedom takes more than the absence of censorship to guarantee journalists their right to perform their duties of informing the public. As an organisation dedicated to the defence of journalists and the promotion of press freedom, we condemn these attacks in the strongest possible language. SEAPA appeals to all parties to guarantee journalists' safety on their assignments and to respect law and order.

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