Posts Tagged: press freedom

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This site is tracking threatened and/or imprisoned bloggers around the world. 

This site is tracking threatened and/or imprisoned bloggers around the world. 

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A second journalist has reported threats and intimidation in in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), a province in Indonesia.

Endang Sidin of Erende Pos daily newspaper said on Friday that she had received threats similar to those received by Dance Henukh, a reporter for Rote Ndao News whose house was stoned and burned down in a mob attack on Sunday. (Jakarta Globe 16 DEC 2011)

A third journalist, Ishak Doris, was also said to have received death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the local area.

Dance, Endang and Ishak had written about corruption allegations in the construction of 100 houses for transmigrant workers in Kuli village.

They reported that local officials could have misappropriated some of the Rp 3.1 billion ($344,000) earmarked for the project. Local law enforcers have not acted on the allegation. (Jakarta Globe 16 DEC 2011)

I admire the bravery of journalists such as these who take risks to expose the officials who steal the public’s money and become fat and rich from illegal practices.

All too often in Indonesia, public funds are not used for the intended purpose, for the good of the people. Instead, people with power put the money into their own pockets. The police are part of the money chain — if they are paid, they will keep quiet.

This is the shame of Indonesia.

Source: thejakartaglobe.com
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If you’re a journalist who tries to expose wrong-doing in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), a province in Indonesia, someone might come and burn down your house.

It happened to journalist Dance Henukh, who works for the Jakarta-based El Shinta radio station. According to the Jakarta Post, Dance was reporting about graft and corruption in the local area. He says police came to his house and “asked him not to go to the media with information that would incriminate the police.”

Then his house burned down, and a 1-month-old baby died.

The police say they will investigate, but they have named no suspects. What a surprise!

See also: Graft news report allegedly leads to death of journalist’s baby

Source: thejakartapost.com
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The video shows clearly the brutality of the Malaysian police against the peaceful, nonviolent march of citizens from all sectors of Malaysian society. 

Source: youtube.com
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Journalism Code of Ethics (Indonesia)

The Journalism Code of Ethics was drafted by 29 Indonesian journalists’ organizations and press enterprise organizations. The Press Council validated it in a letter of decision March 24, 2006.

Source: cmfr-phil.org
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A user identified only as “aqbastian” posted an article title “Citizen Journalism in Indonesia Today" on 7 April 2011. Here are a few excerpts:

"Tracing back, the 2004 Tsunami disaster in Aceh instigated citizen journalism in Indonesia. The tragedy highlighted participatory journalism’s ability to cover breaking news in places without regular reporters. Tourists and residents with digital cameras (and camera phones) quickly transmitted images of the disaster to mass media. Without naming any particular media corporation, print and online media nowadays have launched websites that feature participatory journalism."

Perhaps the author is very young — I think there were many examples of citizen journalism in 1997 and 1998 (the days of Reformasi). Even though we did not have the same Internet culture then that we have today, people were communicating via e-mail and discussion forums and chat rooms as Suharto’s regime collapsed.

"Q! Film Festival (QFF) is the first and the biggest LGBT film festival organized in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country. The festival that sparked controversies was held late last year in six major cities. Being able to screen independent films that are different from ones offered in mainstream media is risky business, especially in a country ruled by a newly adapted democracy where the nation system is still somewhat vague. As most of us knew, QFF was subjected to threats and wraths from Front Pembela Islam (FPI), translated to Islamic Defenders Front. The festival initially expected low-key due to stigma against gay communities in conservative Muslim population. Though in reality, incessant promotions on Twitter created a buzz and proliferated the words to wider Indonesian demographics."

This is the first time I have heard of the Q! Film Festival (Twitter: @QFilmFestival).

"New, online media provide in-depth local coverage that big media do not always provide. However, the credibility of these writers is questioned."

This is true EVERYWHERE. I do not think this is really a valid criticism. Of course people who are not trained — who are not reporting news as part of their paid job — will spread rumors and make errors. So what? In countries where press freedom is restricted, there is ALWAYS a hyperactive rumor mill. This was not invented online!

"Citizen journalism, thus, is not without drawbacks. Various critics argued that what these amateur journalists write and upload are merely good, thoughtful opinions and are often presented as facts, nothing more. Apart from being one-sided, these bloggers’ articles, in comparison to mass media ones, seem to be shorter in length and shallower in analysis."

Again, I am not disturbed by this. People must take responsibility for what they choose to believe. If you think the sky is falling, and you go and hide in a cave because of that, it is your own decision. The public must be assumed to be responsible and intelligent. In developing countries, often the government rejects this idea — they want to treat the public like children, to act like a protective parent by censoring information.

But that tactic only KEEPS the public in ignorance, in a childish condition. It is a kind of repression. It reduces human potential.

Source: imo.thejakartapost.com
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A law in Indonesia (the 2008 Information and Electronic Transfers (ITE) law) restricts freedom of speech and press online:

While the ITE Law was originally designed to protect electronic business transactions, its vague definition of defamation allows it to be used against citizens who express opinions via electronic and social media. One of the six individuals prosecuted under the law in 2009 was housewife Prita Mulyasari, who was arrested in May and charged with circulating defamatory statements online about a private hospital in Banten province. Under Article 27, paragraph 3 of the law, she faced up to six years in prison and a penalty of 1 billion rupiah (US$98,000).

The largest journalists’ union, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), has tried to get Article 27, paragraph 3, revoked — but the courts have ruled against the union.

Source: unhcr.org
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"What matters is the extent to which all sectors of society, especially those who are most disadvantaged or marginalised, can access the media to gain information and make their voices heard. Limited access to — or lack of engagement with — the media is a function of poverty and poor education. It may also be caused or exacerbated by language, gender, age, ethnicity or the urban/rural divide. Whatever the cause, it contributes to an environment that can undermine democratic development.”

Source: The Importance of Self Regulation of the Media in Upholding Freedom of Expression, UNESCO publication, 2011

This brief document (only 21 pages) would make a good basis for discussion in journalism courses in many different countries. Its viewpoint is not overly specific to the developed countries — it takes into account the expectations for regulation of the media. 

Source: portal.unesco.org
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"The Committee to Protect Journalists is dismayed by a provincial court’s decision in Indonesia to acquit three accused killers of TV journalist Ridwan Salamun."

Source: cpj.org