|JANUARY 20, 2004|
Posted: January 30, 2003
Bambang Harymurti, Koran Tempo
Dedy Kurniawan, Koran Tempo
PT Tempo Intl Media Harian
The South Jakarta District Court ordered Koran Tempo to pay US$1 million in damages to businessman Tomy Winata. The daily newspaper was also ordered to publish apologies for three consecutive days in newspapers and broadcast media, according to international news reports. In an unusual move, the court ordered the damages to be paid in U.S. dollars.
Koran Tempo's lawyers have said they will appeal the verdict.
Tomy (who is referred to by his first name), founder of the Artha Graha Group, sued Koran Tempo Chief Editor Bambang Harymurti, reporter Dedy Kumiawan, and the PT Tempo Inti Media Harian company, which published Koran Tempo, for defamation after the newspaper published a report in February 2003 saying that Tomy had applied to open a gambling den in South Sulawesi Province. Tomy sought US$2.5 million in damages, saying the report harmed his reputation as a businessman, according to the Jakarta Post.
Tomy has filed a number of civil and criminal lawsuits against Koran Tempo and its sister publication, Tempo, for their reporting on his business activities. In March, Tomy filed a criminal defamation suit against Tempo, Harymurti, and reporter Ahmad Taufik over an article that cited allegations that Tomy stood to profit from a February fire that had destroyed the Tanah Abang textile market in the capital, Jakarta, and that he might be responsible for the blaze. The article also included a statement from Tomy denying the allegations. Hearings in the case are ongoing in the Central Jakarta District Court.
JANUARY 23, 2004
Posted: February 3, 2004
Cradow Cascha, freelance
German Freelance journalist Cascha was arrested and held overnight in jail by Indonesian military authorities for entering the war-torn Aceh Province without the proper accreditation for a foreign journalist, according to international news reports.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Asep Sapari told local reporters that Cascha was arrested in the afternoon while riding a public bus in the southwestern Gayo Luwes District. According to Deutsche Press-Agentur, Cascha entered Aceh with a tourist visa he had received from Malaysia for travel to North Sumatra, a neighboring Indonesian province. Cascha was jailed overnight and ordered to return to Medan, North Sumatra's capital, on January 24.
After the Indonesian government declared martial law in Aceh on May 19, 2003, the military launched a large-scale offensive against the separatist Free Aceh Movement rebels, known by their Indonesian acronym GAM, and began limiting journalists' access to the region.
Foreign journalists are required to apply for Foreign Ministry accreditation to visit Aceh, but the process is so lengthy and bureaucratic that few outside reporters have succeeded in traveling there. Local journalists are also forced to operate under pressure and restrictions from the local martial law administration.
Posted: April 14, 2004
In the run-up to national parliamentary elections in April, Indonesian authorities increased already stringent restrictions on foreign journalists trying to visit the war-torn Aceh Province, effectively banning them from the province. The military launched a high-profile offensive against separatist rebels (known by the Indonesian acronym GAM) in Aceh in May 2003.
According to the Foreign Correspondents Club in the capital, Jakarta, (JFCC) Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed in March that foreign journalists hoping to travel to Aceh are now required to provide six documents before receiving official permission to go to the area: a passport; a press card from the Foreign Ministry; a work permit for foreign workers known as a "KITAS"; a letter of recommendation from the Foreign Ministry; an approval letter from the General Elections Commission (known as the KPU); and a letter from military intelligence agents in Aceh approving the proposed visit.
The JFCC added that upon arrival in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh Province, foreign journalists are now required to obtain further documents from local police and military commanders before beginning work. According to the JFCC, foreign journalists also need a sponsorship letter from an Indonesian citizen, a schedule of the places they plan to visit, and a signed agreement not to report anything that could harm military operations in Aceh.
In an interview with a local journalist, Col. Ditya Soedarsono, a spokesman for the Aceh military command, said that foreign journalists are also required to obtain a security permit from the National Police Headquarters in Jakarta before traveling to Aceh. Soedarsono did not mention the KITAS or the recommendation letter from the Foreign Ministry, the journalist said.
Journalists have been required to obtain permits before traveling to Aceh since President Megawati Sukarnoputri signed presidential decree 43/2003 in June 2003, which tightly restricts foreign journalists’ and nongovernmental workers’ access to the region.
A week after the June 2003 decree was issued, the martial law authority in Aceh announced further restrictions on the media. All foreign journalists and locals working for foreign media were restricted to Aceh’s main towns. Journalists approved to work in Aceh were also required to inform military commanders of their movements in every place from which they reported. Journalists who refused to do so faced not only prosecution and being banned from reporting in Aceh but also removal from the region within 24 hours.
Military spokesmen have said that the regulations are intended to protect journalists. But they have limited journalists’ ability to report on the war firsthand, forcing them to rely on military-issued statements, some of which have, in the past, contradicted local Aceh residents’ accounts of events. Journalists are also required to sign an affidavit saying that they are liable for their own safety. The presidential decree also barred all foreigners from communicating with GAM members.
According to the JFCC, the Foreign Ministry said that since permits were introduced, it had issued nearly 200 letters of recommendation to journalists seeking to go to Aceh. However, by March 2004, only 20 journalists had actually managed to travel there.
APRIL 22, 2004
Posted: April 30, 2004
Sinar Indonesia Baru
A mob of about 15 people attacked the offices of the private daily Sinar Indonesia Baru (SIB) newspaper in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra Province. The assailants, some of whom were armed, threatened and violently assaulted several newspaper employees and destroyed some of the newspaper’s equipment.
The attack came in reprisal for recent articles published in the newspaper that investigated the existence of illegal gambling rings in the city, according to local sources and news reports. Some of the reports had suggested that local law enforcement officials were reluctant to crack down on the rings.
Local media organizations, including the Medan branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, condemned the attack and called for a police investigation.
The day after the attack, a large crowd of workers associated with gambling operations demonstrated in front of the SIB offices and threatened to mobilize more people to attack the newspaper if journalists continued running stories on gambling, according to the national, English-language daily Jakarta Post.
On April 26, police announced that they had arrested three people suspected of carrying out the attack and were searching for the mastermind, an alleged gambling operator. The head of the Medan police’s gambling unit told reporters that the three had confessed to attacking the newspaper’s office, breaking its windows and office equipment, and beating employees, the Jakarta Post reported.
According to local sources, gambling is officially outlawed in Indonesia but is often tolerated by local officials.