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.

Jakarta Post dismisses AJI member

Andreas Harsono, a journalist working for The Jakarta Post, was dismissed from the paper this month. The following is a slightly abridged translation of his Open Letter circulated on 26 October 1994.

I have been asked by many people about my dismissal from The Jakarta Post. Within a couple of hours of being told that I had lost my job, more than twenty friends had asked me what happened. The queries came not only from members of the Alliance of Independent Journalists but also from Tessa Piper in London.

I am grateful for all this sympathy.

I was officially notified of my dismissal by the editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post, Susanto Pudjomartono, who called me to his office to tell me that the management had decided not to prolong my work contract (my period of probation) which expires at the end of October because I was considered to be unsuitable for the job.

He said that my skills as a journalist were not in doubt; they were beyond what The Jakarta Post required. He said he was satisfied with the features I had written, though not with my handling of 'straight news' which tends to be 'unbalanced'.

The General Manager Raymond Toruan had said earlier that I had a tendency to be one-sided, against the government and called me 'partisan'.

This was why I would not be taken on as a member of the permanent staff, unlike the other nine who joined the staff with me, all of whom were given new work contracts in May, August or September.

Susanto stressed that this decision was not take under any pressure from outside - from the government or from Fikri Jufri, a director of PT Bina Media Tenggara which prints The Jakarta Post, who phoned to say that he wanted me to be taken on permanently.

"Mas Santo" also said the dismissal had nothing to do with AJI, though he acknowledged that people outside would make the connection.

Speaking personally, Mas Santo said he had enjoyed my being in the office and found my ideas attractive. His advice was that I should behave tactically, like Taras Bulba, the Kossack who made a pretence of siding with those in power then crushed the Russian colonisers.

My personal thoughts

Although I was well aware of the risks I was taking, the dismissal came as a shock. There are personal problems. Having been on probation, I am not entitled to severance allowance and I don't have another job. I have also just signed a one-year contract for a house that is located near the editorial office of The Jakarta Post.

But this is of secondary importance. I knew that I would have to pay a price if I took a firm stand and fight openly for my point of view. Nor do I think that the reasons given for dismissing me were the real ones.

Take the question of 'imbalanced straight news'. All the desk editors have denied this, except for the one who supervised my work. Dozens of journalists working for the paper signed a petition to the Works Council urging the management to stop pursuing management methods that confuse the journalists; one of the problems raised was the lack of criteria for how journalists are appointed.

I find it very regrettable that I was not informed of my dismissal until late October even though in May, Raymond Toruan promised to let me know by August. Some members of the editorial staff and the personnel department had told me that I was likely to get an appointment. One even advised me to prolong my housing contract because my appointment was assured. There are many people who can confirm that this is true.

One interesting thing that happened is that the management of The Jakarta Post was recently summoned by the Ministry of Information and the Indonesian Association of Journalists (PWI) and told of the need to 'give guidance' to journalists on the staff who have become involved with AJI. It is widely known that the ministry and the PWI are very unhappy about the emergence of AJI and want to prevent it from becoming effective.

I have been told that one person on the management of The Jakarta Post has been talking about the need for quick action against any members of staff who have joined AJI.

If this is true, I am the first victim. I am a signatory of the Sirnagalih Declaration and an AJI activist which makes me one of those who need to be 'excised'.

Finally, I do not consider myself to be important enough to be treated like this. I am just an ordinary journalist who decided to take a stand at a time when the act of doing so meant putting my career in jeopardy.

It is my opinion that the banning of Tempo, Editor, DeTik and Simponi is damaging for all of us. There is no justification for it and we must say so, loud and clear.

It's not that I don't appreciate the need for tactics. But what worries me is that people destroy themselves and turn traitors, all in the name of tactics.

My dismissal will not make me afraid to take a stand.

Jakarta, 26 October 1994

Andreas Harsono

Sunday, September 11, 1994

Right from the beginning

The Alliance of Independent Journalists
Rumah Susun Tanah Abang Lt. II No. 4
Jl. K.H. Mansyur 39
Jakarta 10240
tel. 62-21-315 5918

JAKARTA: The history of media bans in the Indonesian archipelago dates back as early as 1744, when the first tabloid, the Bataviache Nouvelles, was closed by the reigning Dutch East Indies Company (VOC).

Since then, it is not uncommon for the local mass media to face risk of being closed down. The other colonial rulers, the British and the Japanese, also frequently censored and closed down any media they perceived as opposing their interests. Now, after 250 years, the story continues with a different ruler.

Unlike the previous bans, toward which journalists avoided publicly expressing their dissatisfaction, the latest media closure has developed unprecedented solidarity among them.

Young reporters staged protests at the compound of the state-sponsored Association of Indonesian Journalists (PWI). They urged its executives to demand that the Minister of Information, Harmoko, who stands behind the ban, cancel his decision.

Some journalists, the activists of the protests, are also being intimidated by their superiors, who were scared to follow the fate of the three media.

Dhia Prekasha Yoedha, a journalist from Kompas daily, which has the biggest circulation in the country, 600,000, was reprimanded by his superiors and is facing the threats of dismissal.

Adi Lazuardi of the state-owned Antara news agency is facing a similar fate. Journalists from other media such as the Pos Kota, which belongs to Harmoko, and the Bisnis Indonesia dailies are in the same boat.

AJI's main objective is to fight for the freedom of the press in Indonesia. "We reject all kinds of interference, intimidation, censorship and media bans which deny the freedom of speech and open access to information," the declaration says.

AJI also says that it refuses the concept of a single compulsory organization for journalists which is imposed by the Soeharto administration.

Santoso, the secretary-general of AJI, said that Indonesian journalists should not passively wait for changes any longer. "We have to fight against this media ban and say no to media bans," he said in his election speech. He told Indonesian journalists they will have to fight together against the two-and-a-half century habit of press bans.

"We cannot do anything but protest. And please, tell the world that a number of journalists in this country are starting to stand before the truth," Yoedha, a member of the presidium of AJI, said.

Presidium member of AJI:

Ahmad Taufik (tel. 62-22-215 599 fax. 62-22-215 029)
Dhia Prekasha Yoedha (tel. 62-21-520 2170 fax. 62-21-548 6085)
Nurrudin Amin (tel. 62-274-62 597 fax. 62-274-88 795)
Santoso (tel. 62-21-725 5625 fax. 62-21-725 5645)
Zed Abidin (tel. 62-31-515 233 fax. 62-31-510 703)

Bank account: Bank BNI 246.78010707.5 (Jl. Rasuna Said - Jakarta)

Tuesday, August 09, 1994

PWI Tandingan

From Mon Aug 8 19:34 EDT 1994
Date: Tue, 09 Aug 1994 09:33:37 +1000 (AEST)
Subject: PWI Tandingan

Dari Siaran Internasional Radio Australia pagi ini saya mendengar bahwa kemarin telah dibentuk organisasi wartawan tandingan sebagai reaksi terhadap PWI yang dinilai tidak becus memperjuangkan nasib wartawan Indonesia. Organisasi wartawan yang diberi nama Asosiasi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) (Association of Independent Journalists) ini nampaknya adalah reaksi terhadap pembreidelan dua majalah dan satu tabloid berita baru-baru ini.

Wartawan Radio Australia di Jakarta mewawancarai pegiat hak-hak azasi manusia, Dr. Arief Budiman, yang hadir dalam pertemuan itu. Berikut keterangan Dr. Arief Budiman, "Semangat para peserta sangat tinggi. Mereka membicarakan banyak hal, termasuk konsekuensi dari terbentuknya AJI ini. Mereka juga telah mengeluarkan statemen yang menolak setiap bentuk campur tangan pemerintah dalam organisasi profesi wartawan, termasuk menolak adanya wadah tunggal untuk wartawan".

Menurut Radio Australia, sudah sekitar 50 orang wartawan yang tercatat sebagai anggota AJI ini. Diperkirakan kebanyakan anggota AJI adalah wartawan-wartawan yang majalah/tabloid-nya diberangus tempo hari.

Dari Siaran Reuter - Amerika pagi ini saya baca, bahwa Goenawan Mohammad, pemimpin redaksi TEMPO (alm.) telah menegaskan komitmen AJI untuk membawa pemerintah ke pengadilan karena tindakan pembreidelan yang dilakukan itu.

Radio Australia juga memberitakan, bahwa seorang konglomerat yang dekat dengan pihak penguasa telah menawarkan untuk membeli TEMPO -- namun belum mendapat tanggapan dari pemilik TEMPO.


The University of Queensland Telephone +61 7 870 9996
Brisbane Qld 4072 AUSTRALIA Facsimile +61 7 365 1199

Monday, August 08, 1994

Sirnagalih Declaration

Sirnagalih Declaration signatories near the swimming pool in Wisma Tempo Sirnagalih, Puncak, Bogor.
The following document signed by 58 journalists from a variety of cities was issued on 7 August. The English translation was received with the original in Bahasa. (

We acknowledge freedom of speech, access to information and freedom of association as a basic right of all citizens.

We recognise that the history of the Indonesian press is marked by press struggles to uphold truth and justice as well as to oppose all types of oppression.

In carrying out its mission, the Indonesian press places national unity and national priorities above individual and group interests.

Indonesia is a constitutional state. Because of this the Indonesian press bases its struggles on legal principles rather than power.

Based on the above mentioned principles:

We reject all kinds of interference, intimidation, censorship and media bans which deny the freedom of speech and open access to information.

We reject all efforts to dissipate the spirit of the Indonesian press venturing to fight for their concerns.

We reject one-sided information advanced for the benefit of individuals or groups in the name of national interest.

We reject any diversions from the law and legal regulations conflicting with Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution (UUD 1945).

We reject the concept of a single conpulsory organisation for journalists.

We proclaim the establishment of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen) as an organisation which upholds the struggles and concerns of the Indonesian press.

Sirnagalih, 7 August 1994


Achmad Taufik (Bandung)
Andreas Harsono (Jakarta)
Ardian T. Gesuri (Jakarta)
Arief Budiman (Salatiga)
Aristides Katoppo (Jakarta)

Asikin (Bandung)
Ati Nurbaiti (Jakarta)
Ayu Utami (Jakarta)
Bambang Harymurti (Jakarta)
Bina Baktiati (Jakarta)

Candra Negara (Surabaya)
Christianto Wibisono (Jakarta)
Dadang Rachmat HS (Jakarta)
Dhia Prekasha Yoedha (Jakarta)
Didik Budiarta (Jakarta)

Diah Purnomowati (Jakarta)
Didik Supriyanto (Jakarta)
Goenawan Mohamad (Jakarta)
Happy Sulistiyadi (Bandung)
Hasudungan Sirait (Jakarta)

Heddy Lugito (Yogyakarta)
Hendrajit (Jakarta)
Ida Farida (Bandung)
Idon Haryana (Jakarta)
Imran Hasibuan (Jakarta)

Indrawan (Jakarta)
Jalil Hakim (Surabaya)
Janoe Arijanto (Jakarta)
Keliek M. Nugroho (Surabaya)
Lenah Susianty (Jakarta)

Liston P. Siregar (Jakarta)
M Faried Cahyono (Yogyakarta)
M Thoriq (Yogyakarta)
Fikri Jufri (Jakarta)
M. Anis (Surabaya)

Moebance Moera (Surabaya)
Nuruddin Amin (Yogyakarta)
Putu Wirata (Surabaya)
Ragawa Indra Marti (Jakarta)
Rinny S. Doddy (Bandung)

Rustam Fachri Mandayun (Yogyakarta)
Rudy P. Singgih (Jakarta)
Santoso (Jakarta)
Satrio Arismunandar (Jakarta)
T.J. Wibowo (Jakarta)

Yopie Hidayat (Jakarta)
Yopie Lasut (Jakarta)
Yosep Adi Prasetyo (Jakarta)
Zed Abidin (Surabaya)

The remaining names are the signatures only without the city added. Some signatures are difficult to decipher:

Jus Soema di Pradja
Budiman S. Hartoyo
Yoanida Rosita
Wahyu Muryadi
Toriq Hadad

Saifullah Yusuf
Eros Djarot
Amir ... Jus ... (?)
Dwi Setyo Irawanto

Sunday, August 07, 1994

Deklarasi Sirnagalih

Penandatangan Deklarasi Sirnagalih bergambar depan kolam renang di Wisma Tempo Sirnagalih, sesudah teken deklarasi, pada 7 Agustus 1994.  

Bahwa sesungguhnya kemerdekaan berpendapat, memperoleh informasi, dan kebebasan berserikat adalah hak asasi setiap warga negara.

Bahwa sejarah pers Indonesia berangkat dari pers perjuangan yang menjunjung tinggi kebenaran dan keadilan serta melawan kesewenang-wenangan.

Dalam melaksanakan misi perjuangannya, pers Indonesia menempatkan kepentingan dan keutuhan bangsa di atas kepentingan pribadi maupun golongan.

Indonesia adalah negara hukum. Karena itu pers Indonesia melandaskan perjuangannya pada prinsip-prinsip hukum yang adil dan bukan pada kekuasaan.

Indonesia adalah negara hukum, karena itu pers Indonesia melandaskan perjuangannya pada prinsip-prinsip hukum yang adil, dan bukan pada kekuasaan.

Berdasarkan prinsip-prinsip tersebut maka kami menyatakan:

Satu, menolak segala bentuk campur tangan, intimidasi, sensor, dan pembredelan pers yang mengingkari kebebasan berpendapat dan hak warga negara memperoleh informasi.

Dua, menolak segala upaya mengaburkan semangat pers Indonesia sebagai pers perjuangan.

Tiga, menolak pemaksaan informasi sepihak untuk kepentingan pribadi dan golongan yang mengatasnamakan kepentingan bangsa.

Empat, menolak penyelewengan produk-produk hukum yang bertentangan dengan Pancasila dan UUD 1945.

Lima, menolak wadah tunggal profesi kewartawanan.

Enam, memproklamirkan pendirian Aliansi Jurnalis Independen sebagai salah satu wadah perjuangan pers Indonesia.

Sirnagalih, 7 Agustus 1994