Friday, October 28, 1994

Indonesian journalists say they are harassed

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian journalists under government pressure for forming an independent association said on Friday they had complained to the national human-rights commission, accusing their employers of harassment.

The Alliance of Indonesian Journalists (AJI) told the official commission during a meeting on Thursday that members and sympathisers faced intimidation from their editors, themselves under pressure after a media crackdown in June.

"We are telling the Human Rights Komnas HAM (commission) that journalists grouped in AJI along with its symphathisers are being repressed," AJI member Satrio Arismunandar said after meeting commission Secretary-General Baharuddin Lopa.

AJI was set up in August to challenge the official Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) seven weeks after the government banned three leading weeklies, Tempo, Detik and Editor, for their critical coverage of sensitive political issues.

The journalists said PWI had told editors to dismiss members of the alliance. They also alleged that two reporters from the Jakarta Post daily had been banned from covering next month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.

Media sources said the Department of Information had long required reporters covering major events to be members of PWI.

AJI, recognised by the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists, said one of its members, Jakarta Post reporter Andreas Harsono, had been dismissed on Tuesday after being accused of partisan reporting. He has denied this.

"Terror tactics against AJI members have started to occur via pressure from chief editors at various publications. And the Jakarta Post has triggered this action," AJI said in a statement.

AJI called on newspaper editors not to imitate the Jakarta Post's treatment against the organisation's more than 80 members.

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