National Press Day: Indonesian Journalists Need More Protection

I don’t know if you agree or not, but a blogger is also a journalist in some way. S/he is sometimes more opinionated than a journalist is allowed to be and that what makes him/ her unique and more humane than a journalist.

In reality, the profession of writer and blogger and journalist more often than not overlap each other. In my case, that is also the case.

This year in Indonesia, we still see some unsolved cases of journalist murders in the country. As reported by Kompas.com, there are still ten major cases of Indonesian journo murders, i.e. Herliyanto, Ardiansyah Matra’is Wibisono, Naimullah, Alfrets Mirulewan, Agus Mulyawan, Fuad M. Syarifudin (Udin), Ersa Siregar, Muhammad Jamaluddin, AA Narendra Prabangsa, and Ridwan Salamun. I am not going into the details on how these journalists got murdered but murders are still murders regardless of the methods.

The recent news that made headline today is that the president of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo has revoked the remission of Susrama, who has been convicted as the murder of AA Narendra Prabangsa. This definitely a major victory on the side of press activitsts. However, it is never enough as there are still many other homicide cases involving journalists in Indonesia that have gone unsolved for years and even decades! The murderer of Udin (Bernas Yogya Daily journalist in Yogyakarta) in 1996 has never been perfectly solved. And this is I guess one of the most monumental cases of journo murders in the country.

Murder is not the only type of crime that can happen against a journalist here. One can also experience violence. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) or Independent Journalist Alliance, one of the most progressive journalist organizations in Indonesia, recorded that the recent development of Indonesian press in 2018 was not quite bright. The data that AJI gathered showed that there are at least 64 violence cases involving journalists here. They were expelled, terrorized, physically beaten (or slapped), or sent to jail because of their pieces.

Journalists are now even expected to be more cautious than ever before as a new modus operandi emerges in Indonesia: doxing. It’s simply defined as an online form of persecution, in which people who hate the work of a certain journalist can just hunt him or her for any private details and then unravel them to the public to be judged. Horrible and disgusting on so many levels.

Sources:

  • https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2019/02/08/17302821/mengingat-lagi-10-kasus-pembunuhan-wartawan-di-indonesia
  • https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190209111833-12-367698/jokowi-resmi-cabut-remisi-pembunuh-wartawan-radar-bali?tag_from=wp_wm_cnn
  • https://www.idntimes.com/news/indonesia/teatrika/jokowi-batalkan-remisi-pembunuh-wartawan-bali-ini-kata-moeldoko/full?utm_source=lineND&utm_medium=lineND&utm_campaign=lineND
  • https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1160304/aji-kekerasan-dan-persekusi-wartawan-di-2018-tinggi

 

The Price of Speech and Press Freedom ( #JeSuisCharlie )

‎In 2014, we witnessed the beheading of American journalist James Foley and freelance reporter (or some say, humanity worker) Steven Sotloff by Islamic State on a viral video on the web. They are amongst 71 journalists murdered during the turmoil in Syria, wrote democracynow.org on September 3, 2014. ‎
Another senseless tragedy in journalism involving Islamic State occured recently‎. As the year of 2015 unfolds, French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo has become the headline itself. As BBC reported on January 7, 2015, several men with guns “have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.” ‎
Being a moslem and a journalist myself, I feel particularly disgusted‎ when I read on the news they screamed “Allahu Akbar!” as the suspects raided the magazine office in Paris. It’s not they way we want as moslems. ‎
‎A moslem Indonesian journalist Pepih Nugraha of national prominent paper Kompas commented on the bloody incident on his Facebook account:
“Tanpa bermaksud merendahkan arti “kebebasan berpendapat dan berekspresi” yang diagung-agungkan Barat, ada baiknya kita simak pernyataan (tepatnya pertanyaan filosofis) yang pernah dilontarkan Menlu Perancis Laurent Fabius terkait kebebasan tanpa batas ala majalah satir mingguan Charlie Hebdo Officiel, yang gemar menghina agama, khususnya menghina Nabi Muhammad dalam bentuk kartun: “Apakah itu namanya tindakan cerdas atau masuk akal menuangkan minyak ke atas api yang membara?” Pernyataan Fabius ini ditujukan kepada pengelola majalah Charlie Hebdo yang gemar memuat tulisan humor, satir, gambar, atau kartun yang menghina Nabi Muhammad, yang telah memunculkan gelombang amarah di kalangan Muslim dunia.

Jualan majalah mingguan ini memang provokasi, khususnya memprovokasi orang beragama. Pada hampir setiap edisi, selalu tersedia ruang yang seakan-akan khusus diperuntukkan untuk menghina Nabi Muhammad. Memang menyedihkan, bahkan pikiran Barat yang konon hebat-hebat itu mengandalkan hidup dan menjalankan profesinya sebagai penghina keyakinan orang. Boleh jadi Fabius bukan orang soleh-soleh amat, bahkan mungkin ia tidak punya keyakinan religi, dan tidak pula bermaksud membela Islam atas pernyataannya itu. Tetapi pemikirannya justru telah melampaui batas para pengelola mingguan Charlie Hebdo sendiri sehingga paham akan “bahaya” atas “kebebasan berpendapat tanpa batas” yang diagung-agungkan itu. Hanya saja Charlie Hebdo “kopig” (kepala batu) atas “alerting” dari Fabius dan menganggapnya sekadar angin lalu.

Takkan ada asap jika tidak ada api. Charlie Hebdo berkali-kali mendapat serangan kekerasan berdarah. Tetapi apa boleh buat, hidup-matinya mingguan ini rupanya hanya dengan cara menghina agama, memperolok-olok keyakinan orang, dan menghina sosok Nabi yang begitu dihormati ratusan juta orang. Namun demikian, penyelesaiannya bukanlah dengan cara kekerasan seperti yang ditunjukkan dalam peristiwa berdarah kemarin itu, apalagi harus menelan korban jiwa sampai 12 orang tewas. Penghormatan tetap pada 12 korban dan hukum pada para pelaku kekerasan harus diterapkan dengan seadil mungkin. Semoga dengan peristiwa ini, Charlie Hebdo tidak lagi menghidupi dirinya dengan cara menghina agama dan keyakinan orang lain.

Soyez le français était digne, Monsieur! ” (Pepih Nugraha)

Pepih strongly believes that speech and press freedom has its own boundaries, i.e. by not mocking and insulting other people’s belief. He quoted Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, who questioned Charlie Hebdo objective of publishing insulting cartoons of Muhammad and many other religious, highly respected personalities. Why should it be always in form of mockery and satire? Can they sell magazines without insulting other people’s belief?

Pepih highlighted that the violence against Charlie Hebdo staff is never justifiable but he also mentioned about the very delicate boundaries any press and journalists should respect before they ‎publish anything.

Or else, are we ready to pay the price of speech and expression freedom?