The media remain very free, but journalists face daily violence: more than thirty-three journalists were attacked in 2001. In areas stricken by separatism and intercommunal violence, risks are even greater. The new President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, decided to recreate a Ministry of Information. Her government also plans to reintroduce to the country's Penal Code prison sentences for "slander".

The end of the reign of Abdurrahman Wahid, deposed in July 2001, was not beneficial for freedom of the press. Partisans of the President attacked and threatened dozens of journalists, and those close to power constantly denounced a media conspiracy against him. He presented himself as a victim of the press and even suggested that the press law needed to be reinforced. In March 2001, he told the daily Jakarta Post, "My advisors tell me to file suit against these newspapers (...) I am a victim of the media." In May, Abdurrahman Wahid set up a "media monitoring group", housed in the presidential offices, whose role was to follow up on attacks against the Head of State and correct any mistaken declarations made by government officials. When Megawati Sukarnoputri took over as President on 23 July, some defenders of press freedom were worried. Her speeches in favour of the country's stability and unity could lead to a reappraisal of some liberties. However, organisations defending press freedom did not note any increased control over the media. The only worry is the recreation of the Ministry of Information. During the Suharto regime, this minister was the main orchestrator of censorship and press repression. But the new minister declared, several days after he was named, that he would not limit press freedom.

All throughout the year 2001, the authorities and journalists' organisations raised the question of media responsibility. Accused of adding fuel to the fire in some extremely deadly conflicts, especially those in Moluccas, Sulawesi or Aceh, it is true that the press did make several blunders. Newspapers published unconfirmed news, or deliberately deformed news in favour of groups they supported. In some of the regions in conflict, journalists clearly took sides with one community or one party. In Moluccas, publications are either Christian or Muslim. Some observers called publications defending radical Islamist positions "media of hatred". Some unscrupulous journalists also used blackmail and negotiated articles for money. Finally, media concentration remains an obstacle to the existence of true pluralism in the country. Suharto's daughter, Tutut, owns four television channels including TVI and SCTV.

On 3 May 2001, International Press Freedom Day, journalists' and press freedom organisations denounced yet again the unceasing violence against the press. Didik Supriyanto, general secretary of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), pointed out that instead of systematically using violence, authorities and citizens had "three ways to resolve conflicts: ask for a right of reply, appeal to the National Press Council or file suit." Some say that "renting crowds" to threaten a media or attack a journalist is a common practice. According to the press freedom organisation South East Asia Press Association (SEAPA), the police and the army are responsible for most of the attacks against journalists. But political activists, especially followers of the deposed President Wahid and Indonesian Democratic Party – Combat (PDI-P), are also responsible for many attacks.

Three journalists killed

Three journalists were killed in 2001. But as of 1 January 2002, it is impossible to say if these murders were perpetrated because of the victims' journalistic activities.

On 18 February 2001, Rusli Radja, journalist with the weekly magazine Pena Lestari, was found dead with another person in eastern Aceh (north-eastern Indonesia). According to local witnesses, the body showed signs of torture. The police launched an inquiry. More than 5,000 people have been found dead in the past ten years in Aceh where separatist movements are at war against the government.

On 28 April, Rudi Singgih, photographer and journalist with the weekly Pilar, was killed after being arrested by police in Bandung (western Java). A police spokesperson said that Rudi Singgih "endangered the lives of officers". According to the managing editor of the magazine, the journalist was "investigating a confidential story". Police stated that the journalist was on a list of people wanted for car theft. His family said that police seized his car, computer and video camera.

On 3 June, the body of journalist Wayan Sumariasa was found in the Poso River (South Sulawesi province), with plastic bags full of stones tied to it. Marks on his face showed that he had been beaten. Wayan Sumariasa had been missing for five days. The twenty-five year old journalist had been working for a local bimonthly, Poso Post, for the previous three months. Wayan Sumariasa, a Hindu, had written just one article, on the need to use dialogue to resolve conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Poso. But according to the managing editor of Poso Post, he had never received any threats. Family members said that the journalist had recently been involved in a conflict with a neighbour. The police never managed to find a motive for this murder.

New information on journalists killed before 2001

On 20 August 2001, a military court of the Yogyakarta region, in the centre of Java, sentenced Edy Wuryanto, a former police officer in Bantul, to ten months in jail for withholding evidence in the case of the murder of Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, journalist with the local daily Bernas. Syafruddin was beaten to death in his home in 1996. The police officer, who was in charge of nine detectives investigating this case, admitted in the trial having "borrowed" a notebook owned by the murderer, Udin, from the killer's family a few days after the murder, then loosing it. In spite of this conviction, Wuryanto was not fired from his job.

In September, the trial of the murderers of the Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes, killed in East-Timor in September 1999, was postponed by the Jakarta attorney general's office. One year earlier, M. A. Rachman, attorney general in charge of the investigation at the time, had made public a list of nineteen suspects. In 2001, the attorney general's office postponed the judgement in the Thoenes case, saying that it was difficult to investigate such a case with no witnesses and no material evidence. According to the former attorney general, at least one eyewitness to the murder is known, but he is protected by pro-Indonesian militia in the western part of Timor. According to one investigator, this blockage should allow the members of the military who are suspects in this case to maintain their impunity.

Six journalists kidnapped

On 22 February 2001, Dian Budiani, journalist of the daily Lantang, was kidnapped by an organised crime group while investigating a clandestine pornographic film production ring in Batam (west of the country). The journalist had set up a meeting with a woman who claimed she could put him in contact with this network. But Dian Budiani was knocked out by a friend of this unknown woman. The reporter was taken to an isolated house where he was severely beaten. His kidnappers criticised a series of articles he had written about their pornographic network. On 24 February, Dian Budiani managed to escape. Police did not arrest any suspects and the leader of the ring is said to have left the country for Australia.

On 7 June, Belgian TV documentary filmmakers Philippe Simon and Johan van Dem Eynde were taken hostage by members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) led by Titus Murid, in the centre of the Indonesian province Irian Jaya (West Papua, controlled by Indonesia since the early 1960s). According to their families, the two journalists were filming a documentary on some Papuan tribes in the centre of the island. A Belgian priest based in Irian Jaya announced, on 26 June, that the leader of this movement sent a letter asking the Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to bring West Papuan issues before an international forum. Jakarta authorities refused to negotiate with the kidnappers. Several days after the kidnapping, a delegation of priests went to the village of Illaga to attempt to open negotiations with the kidnappers. The delegation confirmed that the two journalists were in good health and were being treated well. They came back with three pictures of the two Belgian hostages and letters expressing new demands. In one of them, the OPM asked that Belgian authorities defend the Papuan cause on the international scene. Another demand by the kidnappers was the broadcast, by the American news channel CNN, of a report on the conflict between Papuan rebels and the Indonesian army. But the lack of means of communication in this remote region slowed down negotiations. On 12 July, the commander of the Indonesian armed forces in Irian Jaya province suggested, according to the daily Jakarta Post, that the two journalists voluntarily accepted being taken hostage by the OPM. On 17 July, the two priests in charge of negotiations, Father Van den Broek and Father Benny Giay, appealed to the Illaga village chiefs for a new meeting with the hostage-takers on 19 July. They hoped to quickly organize a third meeting that could lead to the release of the two Belgians. On 20 July, Father van der Broek signed an agreement with the Papuan chiefs for the release on 1 August of the two Belgian journalists. The Papuans asked the Belgian ambassador in Jakarta and representatives of foreign press to be present at the release. But Indonesian authorities were opposed to the Belgian ambassador, foreign journalists and negotiators travelling to Illaga. The governor of Irian Jaya banned contact with the hostage-takers after consulting the Jakarta government. On 4 August, Father van den Broek went to Illaga to recommence negotiations. The two Belgians were finally released on 16 August and received by the Belgian ambassador in Jayapura.

On 5 August, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) kidnapped Kusuma Wijaya, Bahrum Pohan and Suheri, three members of a team working for the Indonesian public television channel TVRI. A rebel spokesman told foreign journalists that these three journalists had been taken hostage to "teach" them the danger of reporting stories in favour of the Indonesian army. "We told their families that nothing would happen to them," said the GAM representative. On 4 September, Bahrum Pohan's wife said that she was optimistic that her husband would soon be released. The manager of the national television station TVRI in Aceh told her by telephone that Bahrum Pohan would soon be released following an agreement made between the television station and leaders of the separatist group. But, two days later, the rebels released only Suheri, who was seriously ill. On 29 September, the GAM announced that the hostages would be released because they were not "spies" for the Indonesian army. On 1 October, Kusuma Wijaya and Bahrum Pohan were released after fifty-seven days of captivity.

Four journalists arrested

On 8 January 2001, Kazzaini KS, editor-in-chief of the daily Padang Ekspres, was arrested in Payukumbuh (west of Sumatra) and forced by police to testify in a slander case. Shortly before, the newspaper published an interview with H. Thamrin Manan, a Member of Parliament for the region, that the mayor of Payukumbuh considered slanderous.

On 24 May, Torgeir Norling, an independent Norwegian journalist, was arrested together with two human rights activists by police officers in Peudada, in the province of Aceh. They were questioned for several hours about their presence in this province that was torn apart by civil war. Torgeir Norling had entered Indonesia with a tourist visa and was attempting to interview women who claimed to have been raped by Indonesian soldiers. The journalist and the two activists were released after spending more than twenty-four hours in a police station.

On 30 August, Ply Joris, of the daily Suara Maluku, and Levy Kariu, of the daily Siwalima Pos, were beaten and arrested by a group of soldiers on Ceram Island (Moluccas province). While they were covering a reconciliation meeting among communities, an officer and his men attacked the two reporters in the street. After beating them with their rifle butts, the soldiers took them to a police station where they were questioned about notes they had taken. The two journalists were released the following day after promising that they would not mention this incident in the press.

Thirty-four journalists attacked

On 13 January 2001, Yunus Nasution, journalist with the daily Waspada, was attacked by demonstrators, members of the New Generation Communication Forum (a political group), who burst into the newspaper's offices in Medan (north of Sumatra). Equipment was also damaged. The attackers wanted a rectification made to an article that had been published on the attack of Nasarrudin Sihombing, local leader of this group, by a crowd.

On 7 February, Adi Sutarwijono, reporter with magazine Tempo, Mamuk Ismuntoro, photographer with Radar Surabaya, Marcel Jeronim, journalist with Harian Jakarta, Gajar Arifiyanto, journalist with the Suara Surabaya radio station, and Kukuh S. Wibowo, photographer with Adil, were attacked by supporters of President Wahid during a demonstration in Surabaya (east of Java). Marcel Jeronim was threatened with a gun, rocks were thrown at Gajar Arifiyanto, and Kukuh S. Wibowo was roughed up while trying to take pictures of the demonstration.

On 14 February, Andi Wahyudin, photographer with the daily Ujung Pandang Ekspres, was attacked by an army officer in Makasar (south of Sulawesi Island). Andi Wahyudin was taking a picture of the statue of Sultan Hasanudin, a local hero, when an official told him that he needed an authorisation to take pictures inside the barracks. The journalist apologised and left, and another soldier on a motorcycle caught up to him, punched him and tore up his notes. Andi Wahyudin suffered from wounds in his face.

On 17 March, Tabrani, journalist with Trans Sumatra, was attacked by police officers in Lampung (south of Sumatra Island) while covering a farmers' demonstration. His film was confiscated.

On 23 March, Didi Krisna, journalist with the daily Berita Kota, was attacked by the crowd during a demonstration in Jakarta. He was found unconscious, with a broken leg and suffered from concussion.

On 4 April, M. Sahlan, journalist with the daily Nuansa Post, was attacked by some thirty people in front of the Buol regional council offices (in the centre of Sulawesi). According to journalists present at the time, he was attacked by supporters of Amran Batalipu, candidate for the presidency of the district. Shortly before being attacked, M. Sahlan had written an article entitled, "Hell for Buol if Amran Puts Himself in Place."

On 1 May, Maerani, legal correspondent for the daily Meteor, was brutally struck by two criminals after their trial in the courthouse of Semarang (capital of the province of Central Java). While she was taking pictures of the two defendants, one of them attacked her and beat her.

On 12 May, Umar HN, correspondent with the public television channel RCTI, and Abbas Gani, correspondent with the magazine Majalah Fakta, were roughed up at an army check-point in Simpang Ulim district (Aceh province). The soldiers confiscated a camera and mobile phone. At the same time, Murizal Hamzah, journalist with Media Kutaraja, was attacked by soldiers while covering skirmishes between armed forces and GAM rebels in Lhok Nibong (east of Aceh). His camera and film were confiscated.

On 24 May, members of Laskar Diponegoro, a group of partisans of President Abdurrahman Wahid, insulted and attacked journalists during an operation against the buildings of the National Mandate Party (PAN, opposition) in Tegal (centre of Java Island). Six reporters were injured: Agus Wijanarko of the daily Republika, Yon Daryon of the private television channel Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia, Thomas of the private television channel Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia, Marsis of the daily Pikiran Rakyat, Bambang Mudjono of the local newspaper Radar Tegal, and Sarjono of the national newspaper Sinar Pagi. Demonstrators also destroyed two video cameras.

On 29 May, Abu Darbak, journalist with the daily Suara Bangsa, was attacked by supporters of President M. Wahid in Surabaya (eastern Java). While taking pictures of a fire caused by arsonists, Abu Darbak was suddenly attacked by demonstrators. Others helped him escape. Demonstrators threw rocks and broken bottles at two other journalists. The offices of the RRI radio station were attacked and a group of supporters of the President pressured the journalists present, forcing them to broadcast news favourable to them.

On 15 June, Erik Siswanto and Syaiful Bahri, respectively journalists with the dailies Harian Surya and Surabaya Post, were attacked by police in Sidoarjo (eastern Java). The two journalists were covering a workers' demonstration when scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators. Erik Siswanto was stabbed and Syaiful Bahri was kicked when trying to help his colleague.

On 21 June, Dadang Tri, photographer with the Reuters press agency, was attacked by police officers in Jakarta. The photographer was covering a skirmish involving students of the Christian University of Indonesia and police when six officers chased him and beat him.

On 24 June, Harry Surjana, photographer with the daily Pikiran Rakyat, was attacked by police officers during a football game in Jakarta. He was taking pictures of police actions in the stands when six agents attacked him and beat him brutally. They went on hitting him after the journalist showed them his press card.

On 25 July, thugs working for Aa Tarmana, mayor of Bandung, attacked Sandy Ferdiana, reporter with Radio Mora, just after he interviewed the mayor. He was beaten and his tape recorder was stolen.

On 15 October, Medo Malianza, cameraman with the news channel Metro TV, Agung Nugroho, with the channel Indosiar, Dadang, photographer with Reuters, and Lamhot Aritonang, photographer with the daily Pantura, were beaten by police officers during a demonstration in front of the Parliament in Jakarta. As they were filming the police breaking up this anti-American demonstration, police told the journalists, "Don't film this." The police confiscated the reporters' films and tapes. The next day, a police spokesman apologised and reimbursed the journalists for their damaged equipment.

On 31 October, activists with Gerakan Pemuda Kerakyatan (GPK) attacked a group of photographers who attempted to cover the arrival of a leader of the Golkar party at the office of the Jakarta prosecuting attorney. Surya of the daily Dodok HW, Kompas of the newspaper Danu and Bambang Setiaji of Triwijaya Radio were wounded. On 2 May, bodyguards of a former minister also attacked journalists in front of the prosecuting attorney's office.

On 22 December, Zahrial, journalist with Serambi Indonesia, was attacked by members of Aceh police brigade in Teunom (west of Aceh province). While the journalist was going to an end-of-the-year meeting organised by his publication, police officers stopped the bus he was in to check the identity of its passengers. When they discovered that the journalist worked for Serambi Indonesia, police officers searched his bag and took his Indonesian Press Association member's card, as well as his invitation to the meeting. They accused the journalist of writing articles critical both to the police and the armed forces, and kicked and punched him until he fell to the ground. When Zahrial got back into the bus, they threatened to kill him if he reported the attack.

Six journalists threatened

On 23 January 2001, PDI-P "special forces" threatened journalists covering Parliament activities in Palembang (south of Sumatra). According to their leaders, "Palembang journalists write whatever they want without worrying about the consequences." One of the journalists had recently reported recognizing a local criminal among PDI-P members. Shortly before, PDI-P forces prevented local journalists from publishing an article about Adjis Saip, head of Palembang Parliament.

On 5 February, supporters of President Wahid meeting in front of the Surabaya Parliament (east of Java) threatened to destroy the offices of publications if journalists covering this demonstration underestimated the number of demonstrators.

On 2 May, Indralis, photographer with the daily Sinar Medan, and Mohammad Hidayat, reporter with Radio Prapanca FM, were beaten in Medan (in the province of North Sumatra) by members of the Democratic Party (PDI-P) and his youth organisation, Pancasila (PP). After a decision by the Medan region's court to adjourn hearings on the murder of a PP activist, other activists started a riot in the courtroom. They attacked Indralis, who was taking pictures of the riot, and took his camera. Hidayat approached the altercation with his Dictaphone, which was also taken. The two journalists were then threatened with death if they decided to publish any information about these altercations.

On 8 July, Rahman Samiun, correspondent with the weekly Tempo, Rahman Lahabato, correspondent with RCTI TV, and Asgar Shaleh, correspondent with Radio 68H, received telephone threats which were probably linked to their coverage of the election of the governor of the North Moluccas province. The three journalists said they feared for their lives.

On 25 July, a bomb exploded near the home of journalist Ady Indra Pawananri in Batam (Riau province, west of the country). The guard of the building was wounded in the eyes. Five days before the attack, Pawananri had received an anonymous telephone call threatening him. He told the police about this, but they did nothing. Several days before, Ady Pawananri had written an article about gambling organised by the Sie Jie Cap Gajah group.

Pressure and obstruction

On 4 January 2001, an anonymous bomb scare was made to offices of the Jawa Pos press group, publisher of ten national publications. The anonymous caller said he wanted to "silence this disturbing newspaper".

On 9 January, the governor of Moluccas Islands set up a censorship commission. Local Christian and Muslim journalists' organisations worried about this decision.

On 18 January, all the journalists of the daily Jawa Pos were expelled from the offices of the Kebangkitan Bangsa Party in Surabaya (east of Java). This decision followed the publication, on the second page of the newspaper, of a story about the demonstration in favour of President Wahid organised by this party. The front page was devoted to an opposition demonstration in Jakarta.

On 18 January, some forty supporters of Nahdatul Ulama (NU, the movement of President M. Wahid) attacked the offices of the daily Medan Riau in Pekanbaru (Riau archipelago). The attackers protested against the front-page publication of a photomontage of President Wahid that they felt discredited the party's image. They asked that apologies be published for three consecutive days. Supporters of the party in power also burst into the offices of the daily Radar Cirebon. They protested against the publication of the photomontage and destroyed equipment and archives.

On 18 January, a leader of the Indonesian Private Radio Association said that President Abdurraham Wahid had asked the audiovisual media to not provoke his partisans. Radio and TV stations should not "awaken the sleeping tiger", he was said to have declared, making an allusion to the Banser youth movement. Several days earlier, 300,000 Banser members demonstrated in several Indonesian cities to show support for the President.

On 26 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced a government decision to restrict access to certain parts of the country (Moluccas, Aceh and Irian Jaya) to foreign journalists who do not live in Indonesia. Reporters wishing to go to these areas, where separatist activity is rife, must have special authorisation. Journalists who violate these dispositions would be arrested, taken back to Jakarta and expelled from the country.

In early February, President Wahid met the director of the public television channel TVRI and allegedly asked him to stop broadcasting critical portraits of him, which were angering his partisans. According to the magazine Tempo, the President threatened to replace the director of the channel if his request was not followed.

On 22 February, more than a hundred supporters of the new leader of Sampang district (east of Java) asked to speak to journalists of the dailies Jawa Pos and Radar Madura. The two newspapers had recently published two articles that the demonstrators said were "incompatible with the holding of elections". They also attempted to intimidate journalists of other publications and prevented them from taking pictures of the new district leader.

In late February, the Parliament examined an audiovisual law presented by the government. It provided for prison sentences of up to five years for publishing "excessive and provocative information" or "news that incites ethnic, religious or racial conflicts." In addition, article 40 of this law allows the government to withdraw a broadcasting licence by a simple administrative decision. Audiovisual media representatives denounced this law, saying that, in the current context, it would block all coverage of the many ethnic conflicts occurring in the country. They also denounced the broad powers granted to the new regulatory organ, the Indonesian Audiovisual Commission.

On 2 March, about twenty people entered the offices of the local newspaper Banggai Pos in Luwuk (Central Sulawesi province). They stole the typesetting machine and trimmer in the printing room, and prevented the newspaper from publishing its issue. This was done in reprisal for certain articles that were published concerning the political situation of a local elected official.

On 8 March, the Indonesian distributor of the American weekly news magazine Time decided to remove some pages from the latest issue. They showed pictures of the conflict on Borneo between the Dayak minority and Javanese, which had already led to the death of more than 500 people. One of the pictures showed a Dayak warrior near decapitated bodies of Javanese people. The distributor explained that he was afraid of exacerbating violence. The editors of the Asian edition of Time regretted this decision.

On 9 March, people close to the PDI-P attacked the offices of the daily Pekanbaru Pos and damaged equipment. The newspaper had reported that the leader of Pekanbaru district had resigned, which turned out to be incorrect.

On 12 March, police in Aceh province subpoenaed Effendi of the TPI television channel, Yusrizal of the RCTI radio, Jasman of SCTV, Najmuddin Oemar of the daily Kompas, Taufan Nugraha of the 68H Jakarta station, Iskandar Syah of the newspaper Waspada, Cici of Radio Prima, Andi Basri of the newspaper Aceh Kronika, and Muharram of the newspaper Kontras, as witnesses in a trial against Iqbal Farabi, president of the Aceh chapter of the National Human Rights Commission. The nine journalists had attended a press conference on 28 February, organised by the Commission, to present testimony by five women who claimed that they were raped by Indonesian soldiers. But, several days after this press conference, the police organised a new meeting with the press during which the five women declared that they had never been raped but had been manipulated by rebels. After this new version of the story was presented, the police filed charges against the human rights activist and the nine journalists were called to testify against him. The reporters refused to answer the subpoena, saying that they were protected by the press law. On 21 October, police subpoenaed them again. Three of them came to see the police with their lawyers. They were questioned for several hours. The Press Council later stated that the Aceh police had violated the law.

On 12 March, journalists were prevented from covering a skirmish between opponents and supporters of President M. Wahid in Jakarta. Students demonstrating against the President tried to take journalists' cameras.

On 20 March, the governor of the province of North Moluccas (east of the country) published an "emergency directive" which forbade reporters of the RCTI and TPI television channels from broadcasting news about the situation in the region or from going to Ternate Island where skirmishes between Christians and Muslims were occurring. The governor threatened to close three local publications, Ternate Pos, Fokus and Mimbar Kieraha, if they continued publishing articles provoking violence. Several days later, some twenty journalists based in Moluccas declared that they were boycotting the governor's activities. On 2 April, the governor accepted to meet the Press Council and journalists' representatives, but remained firm. The governor pointed out that he merely wanted to preserve peace in the province and that the media were throwing fuel on the fire. However, journalists claimed that local authorities were protecting themselves against articles about corruption and nepotism.

On 14 April, Syafrudin, reporter with Mimbar Kieraha, and Mahmud Dayu, journalist with the daily Ternate Post, were banned from reporting by the civil emergency authority in Ternate (north of Maluku). While they were going to the Ternate police station to cover a story about smuggling involving the Navy, two Navy officers stopped the two journalists and told them that they were not allowed to cover the story nor take pictures. They threatened the journalists with violence if they insisted.

On 18 April, some fifteen thugs entered the offices of the daily Sriwijaya Post in Palembang (South Sumatra province). The newspaper had just published a series of articles on organised crime and gambling. The criminals first offered to pay the editor-in-chief to stop these stories. When the editor refused, they threatened him with reprisals and left the offices. The following week, no articles about organised crime were published in Sriwijaya Post.

As of 12 May, journalists in the Aceh region (north of the country) were required to register their mobile phones with local security forces. They had to provide a letter justifying the use of these phones.

On 31 May, officers from the information office and detectives with the Irian Jaya police confiscated a roll of film from Paskalis Keagop, journalist with the newspaper Jubi in Jayapura. The journalist was making notes and taking pictures of officials in front of the Irian Jaya police headquarters when policemen confiscated his film, which they reimbursed him for. Paskalis Keagop was covering police investigations on Members of Parliament suspected of being involved in a political and financial scandal.

On 12 July, Syuhud Alman Sayuti, journalist with the daily Suara Bangsa, was held for two hours by Barid Effendi, chief of the customs information office of Juanda in Surabaya (east of Java). Effendi had not appreciated an article published about the immoral behaviour of Amrullah, leader of the representative assembly of the people in Sidoarjo, where he was cited as a source. Effendi insulted the journalist, called the police and had one of his employees photocopy Syuhud's papers. He held the journalist until he wrote a letter of apology, and then ordered him to publish this letter on a full page.

On 11 August, Darmansyah, managing editor of Serambi Indonesia, published in Banda Aceh (provincial capital of Sumatra), decided to suspend publication of the daily following threats by Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders, notably Abu Sofyan Daud. According to the Associated Press, Abu Sofyan Daud said that he had forbidden the journalists "to continue publishing lies." He warned that, "the people of Banda Aceh say they will burn down the newspaper office and kill the employees." Serambi Indonesia, the only Indonesian daily in the region, with a circulation of more than 30,000, had published an Indonesian army press release explaining that the GAM was responsible for the recent killing of 31 people in Julok (east of the province). The separatist movement explained that the Indonesian army was the perpetrator of these crimes and asked for an international commission of inquiry. Jakarta authorities refused the creation of this kind of commission, which they said would be "contrary to Indonesian sovereignty". Serambi Indonesia was not published for ten days. In June 2001, publication of Serambi Indonesia was stopped for one day following GAM threats. The separatist movement accused journalists of not denouncing the Indonesian army's involvement in the massacre of a family. The editor tried to negotiate with Abu Sofyan Daud but the separatist leader refused to guarantee the journalists' safety and had opposed the publication of articles dealing with the situation in the region under his control.

On 20 August, Jakarta police subpoenaed four reporters from the magazine Forum after they published an interview with President Wahid. The Head of State said that some police officers were protecting Tommy Suharto, one of the sons of the former dictator. The editor-in-chief of Forum said that he would go to the police station instead of his reporters. The police then announced that this subpoena was a mistake.

On 29 August, police in Jayapura subpoenaed as witnesses four journalists working in Irian Jaya. The authorities wanted to hear their testimony about a press conference given by a human rights organisation, considered "illegal" by the police. The journalists refused to answer this subpoena.

On 29 September, anti-American demonstrators entered the offices of the public radio station RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia) in Lampung, on Sumatra Island. Members of an Islamic group, the demonstrators held the journalists hostage for two hours and forced the station to broadcast their speeches, during which they pressured the Indonesian government to not give political support to the United States in their war against the Taliban.

On 16 November, police expelled journalists from the South Sulawesi province police headquarters. Authorities refused to provide them with information on a rumour concerning the arrest of a local political leader, caught taking drugs with prostitutes. Reporters said that they were roughed up while being expelled.

In early December, Syamsul Muarif, Minister of Information, announced that the press law would be amended to "bring order back to the media". According to him, at least thirty-seven new articles could be added to avoid "excessive press freedom". Syamsul Muarif said that the articles on slander would be reviewed.


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