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Indonesian cop's removal sought for threatening journalist

UCA News - April 24, 2023

A journalist group has slammed a top police official in Indonesia's Catholic-majority Island of Flores for threatening a journalist with planned violence for his critical writings.

The Flores-Lembata Journalists Forum, an organization of journalists on Flores and Lembata Islands in predominantly Christian East Nusa Tenggara province, issued a statement on April 22 saying it demands the dismissal of the Nagekeo District Police Chief, Yudha Pranata.

The group said the demand for Pranata's removal was made in a letter to the National Police Chief, General Listyo Sigit Prabowo.

"We request that the National Police Chief investigate and fire him immediately," the group said in the statement.

Pranata came under fire after a chat on a WhatsApp group he created was leaked last week that showed he planned to commit violence against Patrik Meo Djawa, a Catholic and journalist for local media Tribun Flores.

He and members of the group wrote comments directed at Djawa, such as "break his jaw," "turn into trash," and "just destroy it."

In one of the comments, Pranata stated that Djawa was trash and therefore could be 'thrown away' or 'annihilated.'

Through a video, Pranata has acknowledged the truth of the contents of the chat and said that he was indeed annoyed with Djawa who "often makes the police dizzy."

He said Djawa "often did not write news based on official police releases, but instead conducted his own investigations."

The case began with a news report reported by Djawa regarding the blocking of Pranata's car by a group of youths on Easter Sunday, April 9 in Aesesa District.

Unlike other reports in the local media, which only quoted press releases from the police, Djawa added additional information from his own interviews.

The journalist forum in its statement stated that there was nothing wrong with the story and said the contents of the WhatsApp group chat were "a serious threat to press freedom" and "as well as an insult to their profession."

They also stated that journalists are indeed independent in reporting events and cannot just follow the police's narrative.

The forum also said that they expect the attention of the Press Council and the Committee for Safety of Journalists in this matter in order to ensure "security and freedom of the press for journalists working in Nagekeo Regency," and in other areas in Flores.

"The press is a partner... not a subordinate who is used as an object...," they said.

Djawa said he is aware of the threat. "We ask the higher police institutions to provide us with good police, police who really know about the rule of law," he told UCA News.

This case has sparked concern amid increasing cases of violence against journalists in Indonesia, with the main perpetrators being mostly state actors, including the police.

According to the Alliance of Independent Journalists, 97 journalists and 14 media professionals came under attack in a total of 61 cases of violence against journalists in 2022. The number of cases was 43 in the previous year.

The majority of the attackers were state actors, mostly police.

Last month, in Flores, journalists from a local independent media Floresa.co were also intimidated by the military personnel for writing a report related to the neglect in providing compensation to villagers whose houses and land were evicted for the construction of a highway that President Joko Widodo had inaugurated.

The case sparked condemnation from the Committee for Safety of Journalists and the military sought to meet the journalists who wrote the reports. The military officials reportedly attempted to visit the houses of the journalists for questioning.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-cops-removal-sought-for-threatening-journalist/10109