Indonesia press group warns of violence against journalists

Makassar (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesian independent press group Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has attributed increasing violence against journalists to escalating political tension ahead of the 2014 general election.

AJI chairman Eko Maryadi said that given intensified political competition ahead of 2014, journalists were forced to take sides with political candidates and on the ground often had to deal with attacks launched by rival camps.

It did not help that owners of some media conglomerates were politicians themselves, Maryadi said.

Data from AJI said that as of November 2012, 46 cases of violence against journalists had been reported.

The figure from last year is 49 and 51 the year before.

"The number appears to be fluctuating. But, it shows a trend that the figure increases as the 2014 general election draws closer," Maryadi said over the weekend.

Maryadi said that in 2010 and 2011 the number of physical attacks against journalists made up less than 50 per cent of the total number of assaults against members of the media.

"However, until November 2012, almost all violence against journalists was physical, in some cases even leading to death," Maryadi said.

The latest fatal attack on a journalist happened during the weekend, with Metro Manado daily reporter Aryono Linggotu, 26.

Linggotu was found dead, lying next to his motorcycle with 14 stab wounds on Jl. Daan Mogot 4 in Tikala, North Sulawesi on Sunday morning.

Linggotu was a crime reporter for the newspaper.

Manado Police have so far arrested one suspect, identified only by his initials JFK, 17, only hours after the assault.

"We are now still looking for three other suspects. We were told by witnesses that there were four people seen at the crime scene when the attack happened," said Manado Police criminal detective unit chief Comr. Nanang Nugraha.

Nugraha said that JFK had confessed to officers that he had assaulted the wrong target.

The murder of Linggotu took place only days after Fakhri Rubiyanto, a journalist with Riau TV, was assaulted by four unidentified assailants.

Rubiyanto survived the attack but had to be taken to hospital for cuts and bruises.

Last month, the public was also shocked with the brutality of several Indonesian Air Force officers who assaulted and intimidated several journalists who covered a plane crash in Pekanbaru, Riau.

An officer attacked Didik Herawanto, a Riau Pos photo journalist, and seized his camera. Other officers also reportedly assaulted five other journalists on the scene.

In March, veteran TVRI reporter Djuli Elfano was gunned down outside his house in Vila Bintaro Indah, South Tangerang, suburb of Jakarta, when he tried to stop two men from stealing his motorcycle.

Last week, police in Lampung arrested Rudi Husada, 23, the primary suspect in the case.

Husada's suspected accomplice, Hendra Yuda, was arrested in May.

AJI, however, said that journalists themselves shared the blame for the increasing violence.

"Many journalists did not follow the code of ethics. Many also produced inaccurate reporting. Some quarters can easily hold grudges against journalists because of these infraction," Maryadi said.

He added that part of the problem resulted from the police's reluctance to solve cases of violence against journalists.

He was referring to some unresolved cases of violence against journalists, including one against Fuad Muhammad Syarifuddin, a journalist with Bernas daily, who was known for his strong criticism toward the corrupt practices of local officials in Bantul, Yogyakarta.

He was assaulted in August 1996 and died three days after the attack.

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