Aliansi Jurnalis Independen


Indonesian army pressures media in its efforts to unseat an opposition leader
June 7, 1996, 10:08 am
Filed under: Laporan

    Country/Topic: Indonesia
Date: 07 June 1996
Source: Institut Studi Arus Informasi (ISAI)
Person(s):
Target(s):
Type(s) of violation(s):
Urgency: Flash

Source: Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Jakarta

The Indonesian government has put pressure on the local media to report positively on government-backed efforts to unseat Megawati Sukarnoputri, the chairwoman of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Media sources said that army officers on 2 June 1996 invited most of Indonesia’s chief editors to attend two “media briefings” during which Lt. Gen. Syarwan Hamid, Maj. Gen. Suwarno Adiwijoyo and Brig. Gen. Amir Syarifudin asked them “not to exaggerate” their coverage on Megawati — who is popularly known here by her first name.

Gen. Syarwan stressed that the military will back a congress planned by breakaway members of the PDI who obviously intend to unseat Megawati. One briefing took place on Sunday morning, 2 June, at the Ministry of Information and another one in the evening at the four-star Hotel Equatorial in Central Jakarta. Another one took place on 5 June with editors of the national weeklies. Gen. Syarifudin, who is the spokesman for the powerful Armed Forces, asked the editors not to use the words “to unseat” and “to topple” in their reporting. He went further and asked the editors to use the name Megawati Kiemas when referring to the PDI chairwoman — the surname of her husband — rather than the name she is commonly known by — Megawati Sukarnoputri — after her father, the charismatic and revolutionary President Sukarno, whom President Suharto, the current leader, replaced after an abortive coup d’etat in 1965. The media briefing has clearly intimidated the media, which have since toned down their coverage of the PDI saga. The military-backed government has in the past closed down dozens of newspapers braving such a briefing. The government closed down three news weeklies in June 1994 and later jailed journalists — members of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) — who protested the closure.

Recommended Action

Please send appeals to Indonesian authorities:
# protesting the pressure put on the media
# urging that Indonesian journalists be allowed to practice their profession freely, including reporting on politics without fear of reprisals
# urging an end to the practice of media briefings designed to intimidate editors and their staff

Appeals To

Gen. Feisal Tanjung
Commander of  Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI)
ABRI Headquarters
Cilangkap
Jakarta 13870
Fax: + 62 21 840 5547

Mr. Ali Alatas
Foreign Minister
Jl. Taman Pejambon 6
Jakarta 10410
Fax: +62 21 345 7782
Fax: +62 21 360 517

Please copy appeals to the originator if possible.
MORE INFORMATION:

For further information, contact Satrio Arismunandar at AJI, Jl. Mampang Prapatan I No. 58, Jakarta 12790, Indonesia, telephone-facsimile: +62 21 794 6765, e-mail: aji@nusa.or.id. Or contact Adreas Harsono of ISAI at Jalan Utan Kayu 68-H Jakarta 13120 Indonesia; tel: + 62 21 856 9281/9280; fax: +62 21 856 7529; e-mail: harsono@nusa.or.id, rajendra@rad.net.id.


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