Indonesia is becoming less and less safe for journalists despite the fact that they are protected under Law Number 40/1999 on the Press.
This was conveyed by the chairperson of the Online Journalists Association (IWO), Jhodi Yudono, when asked to comment on intimidation against Akurat.co and Krikom.id journalists at the 2112 “Defend Ulghur” action at the Chinese Embassy in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Friday December 21.
“This country is increasingly unsafe for its citizens including journalists, who are protected under UU Pers Number 40/1999”, he explained. According to Yudono the 2112 protesters were not afraid of intimidating the journalists because law enforcement is becoming weaker.
If this continues to happen, then the flow on effect will be that it will undermine the growth of democracy in Indonesia because such groups will feel that because they have the numbers they can continue to intimidate the press.
“With regard to citizens who intimidate [the press], I think this is the fruit of weak law enforcement. Over time those who have the power (numbers) are increasingly prepared to intimidate anyone, including the press”, he asserted.
“The state, in this case the police, often neglect to provide protection to citizens even though they are protected by the constitution”, he continued.
In addition to this, he also called on journalists to continue working professionally and continue to report on what happens when they are working.
“Journalists cannot remain silent, report on what is happening, because only through this can we uphold justice and humanity”, he said in conclusion.
Earlier, participants of the 2112 action in front of the Chinese Embassy intimidated a reporter from Akurat.co and an online media journalist from Krikom.Id.
The incident started when the two journalists began recording and taking photos of a student representative giving a speech from atop of the command vehicle which began to lean in a political direction.
In the speech the student touched on the recent arrest of celebrity Islamic preacher Bahar bin Simith for insulting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and then began shouting “replace the president in 2019”, in reference to the 2019 presidential elections.
The journalists were then intercepted by a group of heavily built youths who demanded that they delete the photos and recordings. The journalists however refused. There was even one who videoed the intimidation.
“Where’s your ID card!”, asked one of the youths in a high pitched voice. The youth then took a photo of the two journalists press and ID cards. “Scum cebong media”, said one of the youths after questioning the two journalists.
Although they had already examined their documents, the group of youths continued to follow the two journalists until they reached a police post not far from the location of the demonstration.
Cebong – a derogatory term meaning “tadpole”, which is used against President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo supporters to mock the fact that the president kept frogs as pets while he was the mayor of Solo and the governor of Jakarta.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Wartawan Diintimidasi Peserta Aksi 2112, IWO: Negeri Ini Kian Tak Aman Bagi Wartawan”.]