Maintaining Press Freedom in Indonesia

Maintaining Press Freedom in Indonesia

Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Indonesian government to adopt bolder steps to ensure the dismissal and prosecution of security officials implicated in violence against journalists. HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine specifically called UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova to publicly address the increase in assaults against journalists during the commemoration of the 2017 World Press Freedom Day next week.

UNESCO has chosen Jakarta to host its annual World Press Freedom Day commemoration on May 3 and thus “it should use the occasion to urge President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to take more decisive action in response to the issue,” Kine said.

World Press Freedom Day should be a time to celebrate the role journalists play in society, but in Indonesia the focus too often is on reporters’ fears. The Indonesian government should reverse the dangerous deterioration of freedom of the press in the country and prosecute security force personnel who physically assault journalists.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) revealed the number of violence against journalists cases increased to 78 incidents in 2016, including attacks by security forces, from 42 in 2015 and 40 in 2014. Only a few of attackers in those 78 incidents were properly brought to justice.

Investigations by the HRW found that the abuse included destruction of journalists’ equipment, harassment, intimidation, threats and assault. Theses acts typically occurred in provincial capitals and smaller cities, but less commonly in Jakarta, where journalists are more aware of their rights.

Violence against journalists has escalated to its highest level in a decade, a year-end report from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) says. According to the report, there have been 78 cases of violence against journalists and one murder between January and December, almost double the number of cases in 2015, which was 42.

The worsening violence against journalists had shown that the 2014 election of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the first democratically elected civilian President in the post-Soeharto era, had failed to make a difference. Based on data from AJI, civilians were responsible for most cases of violence against journalists at 36 cases, followed by the police, who were responsible for 13 cases.

Previously, in the period of mass rally against Ahok in Jakarta, many in the crowd voluntarily stepped aside and gave way for the couple’s entourage. According to a number of media outlets, some of the protesters even gave their umbrellas to the couple when the rain started. The protesters directed their anger toward the media, which they argued had given positive coverage to Ahok.

Journalists and technical crews from the private news channels Metro TV and Global TV reported that they were harassed by some protesters. Senior Metro TV journalist Desi Fitriani filed a police report on Saturday after she was hit in the head by unidentified protesters with a bamboo pole. She suffered an injury to the head. Fellow Metro TV journalist Ucha Fernandes also filed a report after being struck in the abdomen, neck and legs.

Responding to the incident, the Indonesian Television Journalists Association (IJTI) issued a statement condemning the alleged assault. “The IJTI and the Press Council’s anti-violence task force will look into this case,” the group said.

Maintaining press freedom

One of significant efforts in reformation era is a press freedom. Maintaining press freedom is a common responsibility among many of stakeholders including media communities, government and the society. Because of that, between all of stakeholders must have been had a common and true perception about press freedom especially to the context of press freedom at our tenet, Pancasila. Pancasila has called press freedom as responsibility and accountability press freedom. So, the meaning of press freedom in Indonesia doesn’t equal with the mean of press freedom at several countries.

However, we must be condemed to whom has been done violence against press in Indonesia, because without mature and responsible mass media, we’re never take a cover both sides stories at all of news which come to be misunderstanding and its can trigger mass anger or mass protest to the journalist or their media company.

Maintaining press freedom has been taking some “common idea” as bellows : firstly, press freedom has been needed to protect and to growth our healthy democracy athmosphere, because press has been taking a basic and significant role as the representatives of people to make good communication with their government or all of stakeholders. Because of that, every journalist has been had a positive thinking to the contect of genuine situation. Its must have by every journalist because those can be made every news is a equal and right news

Secondly, every journalist must have been a good competency in the context of news-gathering, indepth-news and how to maintain good relationship with their news-sources. However, to make every journalist in Indonesia has taken those competition, its could be as a media company obligation to make sure every journalist who have been worked at their company is a “complete journalist” so that they couldn’t be provoked to make un-balance news.

Thirdly, violence against journalist in Jokowi’s era has been happened because being admitted or not, many of journalist in Indonesia didn’t have “journalist sertification” mostly who comes from “phery-phery media”. Essentialy, those condition must be triggered all of media organization in Indonesia such as AJI, IJTI, PWI etc have been doing media competency competition and media sertification  because “un-sertification media or un-reported media” could be worsened the popularity of mainstream media in Indonesia.

Fourth, the challenge of all of media in Indonesia is how to maintain our plurality and diversity which has been faced a seriously threats which comes from a transnational ideology which could be endangered our national tenet, Pancasila. A transnational ideology such as separatism, terrorism, radicalism and “caliphate systems” have been contradiction with Pancasila. A nationalist journalist doesn’t spread whatever a material of transnational ideology to our society through their news. I think all of Indonesian has been saluted to Indonesia’s media communities if they are fighting and rejecting the implementation of “caliphate-systems” as one of transnational ideology which has been promoting by HTI. Hopefully.

*) Erlangga Pratama, a one of founder of Center of Risk Strategic Intelligence Assessment (Cersia). Living in East Jakarta. His earned his master at KSI programe at the University of Indonesia (UI).

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