Friday, May 04, 2012

Indonesia: Authorities must shed light on cases of eight murdered journalists

Source: IFEX

(AJI/IFEX) - 3 May 2012 - Information about the cases of eight murdered journalists' has to be revealed, says the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI). AJI stated that the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2012 has to be the drive for law enforcers to end the practice of impunity that benefits journalists' killers. Since 1996, at least eight journalists have been murdered and the investigations were suspended. AJI Indonesia's chosen campaign theme is "Against Impunity - Put Killers of Journalists on Trial."

"Law enforcers have yet to look further into the eight cases of journalists' killings – this is a an indication of the impunity for killers of journalists. Law enforcement agents are protecting the killers on purpose in that they are spared a guilty verdict in the court," said Chairman of AJI Indonesia, Eko Maryadi, on 3 May 2012.

The eight unsettled cases of journalists' killings are as follows:

Fuad Muhammad Syarifuddin, alias Udin (a journalist for Bernas daily of Yogyakarta, who died on 16 August 1996); Naimullah (a journalist for Sinar Pagi daily of West Kalimantan, who was found dead on 25 July 1997); Agus Mulyawan (a journalist of Asia Press of East Timor, who died on 25 September 1999); Muhammad Jamaluddin (a video journalist of TV station TVRI of Aceh, found dead on 17 June 2003); Ersa Siregar (a TV journalist of RCTI, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam, who died 29 December 2003); Herliyanto (a freelance journalist for Delta Pos tabloid, Sidoarjo, East Java, found dead on 29 April 2006); Adriansyah Matra'i Wibisono (a journalist for Merauke local TV, Papua, found dead on 29 July 2010); and Alfred Mirulewan (a journalist for Pelangi tabloid, Moluccas, found dead on 18 December 2010).

Eko stated that impunity is marked by a suspension in the investigations. "In the case of Udin's killing, for instance, police named Dwi Sumadji, alias Iwik, a suspect. In fact, from the very beginning, Udin's family testified that Iwik was not the killer. After the court released Iwik from any charges, the police should have sought the real suspects. But they remain on their stance," said Eko.

Impunity is also reigning in the case of Ersa Siregar, who died from bullet wounds, as a result of gunshots between the Free Aceh Movement force and Indonesian Military personnel in Alue Matang Aron Village, Simpang Ulim Subdistrict, East Aceh Regency on 20 December 2003. The death of Ardiansyah in Papua is another example of the practice.

"In Ersa's case, the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army, General Ryamizard Ryacudu, had admitted that the bullet which took the life of Ersa Siregar belonged to the Indonesian Military. However, none of the perpetrators has been brought to justice. In Ardiansyah's case, the Indonesian Police had declared that the victim had been murdered. Nonetheless, the Merauke Police refused to go after the killers.

This is another example of impunity," said Eko.

Eko said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must issue a decree ordering the Chief of Indonesian Police and the Indonesian Military Commander to put an end to impunity for journalists' killers. "The commitment to terminate impunity must be upheld. The case of Udin's killing must be reinvestigated. The case must be followed up as it will expire on 16 August 2014," said Eko.

The Coordinator of AJI Indonesia's Advocacy Division, Aryo Wisanggeni G, said that impunity for journalists' killers and abusers results in part from a failure to understand that journalism is a profession protected under the law. Subsequently, violent acts against journalists continue to be carried out. AJI Indonesia recorded that between 1 May 2011 and 30 April 2012, 43 cases of abuses against journalists had been committed.

Police should have acted against the journalists' abusers. However, there are police officers who in fact commit violent acts against journalists. Five out of the 43 cases were perpetrated by certain cops. If the police continues to underestimate cases of violent acts against journalists, threats will never stop haunting journalists," said Aryo.