Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Indonesia

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Indonesia, February 1997, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

March 19
Reader's Digest, CENSORED

The Indonesian government banned all newstand sales of the March issue of Reader's Digest magazine. The ban effectively removed 10, 000 copies of the monthly from newsstands; the 2, 300 subscriber copies delivered via post were not affected. Reader's Digest editors, who learned of the ban from a Reuter wire story, received no formal notice of the censorship action from the government. A spokesman for the magazine said he presumed the ban was a reaction to a profile in the March issue of the Roman Catholic bishop and East Timorese human-rights advocate Carlos Belo.

March 27
Ahmad Taufik, Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), LEGAL ACTION

The Indonesian Supreme Court upheld the prison sentences of AJI president Taufik and AJI member Maryadi. The two journalists were arrested on March 16, 1995, and convicted on Sept. 1, 1995, of violating Article 19 of the Press Law, which prohibits the publication of an unlicensed newspaper or magazine, and Article 154 of the Criminal Code, which bars the expression of "feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt toward the government." They were sentenced to 32 months in prison each - terms that were later extended to three years. The Supreme Court also upheld the 20-month sentence of Danang Kukuh Wardoyo, an AJI office assistant who was convicted on the same charges as the two journalists. CPJ expressed its dismay regarding the Supreme Court's verdict in a letter to President Suharto, and reiterated its demand for the AJI members' immediate release. Taufik is one of CPJ's 1995 International Press Freedom awardees.

June 13

The Supreme Court upheld a June 1994 ban on the weekly magazine Tempo, reversing two lower court decisions that ruled in favor of Tempo publisher Goenawan Mohamad. Mohamad had filed suit on Oct. 7, 1994, against Information Minister Harmoko alleging that Harmoko had wrongfully revoked Tempo's publishing license, forcing it to close. In banning the weekly, the Information Ministry had declared its articles about political corruption to be incompatible with a "healthy" and "responsible press." The Ministry also accused Tempo of failing to adhere to national press guidelines and disregarding prior government warnings. The banning of Tempo, which was Indonesia's largest circulation newsmagazine at the time of its closure, prompted widespread protest demonstrations throughout the country and sparked international condemnation.

July 27
Cecek Sutriatna Sukmadipraja, Ummat, ATTACKED
Kemal Jufri, Asiaweek, ATTACKED
Associated Press Television, CENSORED
Australian Broadcasting Corp., CENSORED

Soldiers attacked two photojournalists who were covering the army's seizure of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters in Jakarta. When Sukmadipraja, a photographer for the local Muslim magazine Ummat, refused to turn over his film, the soldiers kicked him in the groin and beat him with rattan, wood, and metal objects until he collapsed. A colleague took him to the intensive care unit of a local hospital, where he was given a blood transfusion and stitches for neck and back wounds. Another soldier hit Jufri, a free-lance photographer who strings for Hong Kong-based Asiaweek, on the head as Jufri tried to photograph a civilian being beaten. Jufri's attackers smashed his camera and threw it into a sewage canal. Soldiers also seized video footage belonging to Associated Press Television and the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

July 28

Lt. Gen. Syarwan Hamid, the head of the sociopolitical section of the military general staff, summoned Jakarta-based editors and bureau chiefs to a meeting where he advised them to support the army crackdown on supporters of ousted Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) leader Megawati Sukarnoputri and other opponents of the Suharto regime. Indonesian authorities also issued warnings to two leading dailies - Kompas and Merdeka - for their critical coverage of the crackdown. Since June, senior Indonesian army officers had repeatedly delivered explicit warnings to the local press about reporting on the conflict with Megawati loyalists.

August 16
Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, Bernas, KILLED

Syafruddin, a correspondent for the Yogyakarta daily Bernas, died from injuries sustained during a beating by unidentified assailants. Two visitors to Syafruddin's house beat him with a metal stick on Aug. 13, inflicting serious injuries to his head and stomach. The assailants fled on a motorcycle immediately after the attack. Syafruddin was transferred to the intensive care unit of a Catholic hospital in Yogyakarta, but never regained consciousness. He died in the hospital three days later. Local sources speculated that Syafruddin's death may have been related to his articles on land disputes and government corruption in Bantul, the Yogyakarta suburb that he covered for Bernas. Indonesia's National Committee on Human Rights in October began an investigation into Syafruddin's death. Earlier in the month, police in Jogyakarta arrested a suspect. However, Syafruddin's wife reportedly claimed that the suspect is not one of the men she saw kill her husband, and that the suspect is a foil to deflect blame from the guilty parties. CPJ wrote to President Suharto to express alarm over the murder. The Committee called on the Indonesian leader to order a complete investigation into Syafruddin's death as well as public disclosure of the investigation's findings.

October 28
Suara Independen, CENSORED

Indonesian police raided the printing house where the monthly newsmagazine Suara Independen is printed. During the raid, police confiscated 5, 000 copies of Suara Independen, and arrested Andi Syahputra, the printing house manager, and Nasrul, a press operator. After the two were taken into custody, security forces searched Syahputra's home in central Jakarta. Syahputra and Nasrul were later charged under Articles 134 and 137 of the Indonesian Criminal Code with the distribution of printed materials defaming President Suharto. If convicted, they face up to six years in prison each. Suara Independen, published by the Melbourne-based Society of Indonesian Alternative Media (MIPPA), is the best-known of several underground magazines that have attempted to circumvent the government licensing regime. Its predecessor, Independen, was published by the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), which is not officially recognized. Two AJI members - Eko Maryadi and Ahmad Taufik, a winner of CPJ's 1995 International Press Freedom Award - are currently serving prison terms for their involvement with the magazine. In a letter to Suharto, CPJ demanded the release of Syahputra and Nasrul and the withdrawal of all charges against them. CPJ also reiterated its calls for the release of Taufik and Maryadi.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

Search Refworld