Bandung journalists protest police violence, demand freedom of expression

Detik Jabar – August 31, 2023
Journalists in Bandung protest police violence – August 31, 2023 (Detik)

Rifat Alhamidi, Bandung – Journalists from four organisations in Bandung, West Java (Jabar), held a demonstration at the Vanda Park on Thursday August 31. In their demands, they condemned the violence by police during a clash between police and Dego Elos residents on August 14.

The four organisations that took to the streets on Thursday were the Bandung Alliance of Indonesian Journalists (AJI), the Bandung Indonesian Photo Reporters (PFI), the Bandung Photo Journalists (WFB) and the Bandung Journalists Discussion Forum (FDWB).

In the name of the Journalists Coalition for Press Freedom, the print workers brought banners containing their criticisms, which condemned the repressive actions by police.

AJI Bandung Chairperson Tri Joko Her Riadi – who is known by his friends as Joko – said that the clash that occurred between police and Dago Elos residents resulted in two journalists being injured. Yet according to the group, media crews are protected under the Press Law when carrying out their reporting duties in the field.

"The point of holding this demonstration is because of the violence suffered by two journalists while reporting on Dago Elos that was committed by the police. Fellow journalists then felt it was important to articulate this problem", Riadi told Detik Jabar on Thursday.

According to AJI's records, between January and August 2023, there have been 58 incidents of violence against journalists while covering stories throughout Indonesia. One of them was the incident in Bandung which occurred during the Dago Elos clash.

AJI and the other Bandung journalists are protesting so that incidents such as this are not repeated. Because, according to Riadi, the problem keeps occurring, and the police frequently blame the problem on rogue individuals and never want to take responsibility.

"We demand that the police respect the work of journalists and guarantee freedom of expression, because this is an issue we frequently suffer", he said.

"So this violence does not recur, because [the police] always take refuge by using the word rogue individuals. But it continues to be repeated, in our view there is something wrong with this institution's education, in their culture. And we see that this not only against journalists, but also in the handling of citizens' cases, violence is still being used by the police", he added.

During the action, these journalists conveyed four points in their statement. The first was to strongly condemn violence by police against the two journalists covering the Dago Elos riot.

Second, urging the police and other state institutions to respect the journalistic profession which is protected by law and is mandated to carry out a role of social control through journalistic work, including their colleagues in the student press.

The third demand was to guarantee freedom of expression for civilians so that they can freely contribute to democratic life, especially in the lead up to the 2024 elections.

And finally, they invited fellow journalists in Bandung and other parts of West Java to jointly fight for press freedom. After conveying their demands, the demonstrators dispersed at around 11.30 am. (ral/mso)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Jurnalis Bandung Kecam Kekerasan Polisi di Kericuhan Dago Elos".]