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Journalists from Surabaya to Bali rally against Broadcasting Law revisions

CNN Indonesia - May 29, 2024

Denpasar – Journalists and journalist organisations in a number of regions, including in Surabaya and Bali, have continued to speak out against revisions to the Broadcasting Law that they say will curb press freedom.

The Indonesian Television Journalists Association (IJTI) held a peaceful demonstration rejecting the Broadcasting Bill in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on Wednesday May 29.

The protest began with a walking backwards action towards the Apsari Park, or in front of the State Grahadi Building (the governor's office).

Surabaya IJTI chairperson and regional coordinator Falentinus Hartayan explained that the walking backwards action was held to illustrate that a number of articles in the Broadcasting Bill (RUU Penyiaran) drafted by the House of Representatives (DPR) to replace Law Number 32/2002 on Broadcasting are a setback for Indonesian press freedom.

"Because several articles in the RUU Penyiaran conflict with Law Number 40/1999 on the Press", he said on the sidelines of the demonstration.

Falen, as he is known by his friends, gave as an example Article 8A Letter (q) and Article 42 Paragraph 2 of the bill that gives the authority to resolve journalistic disputes, specifically in the broadcasting sector, to the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), which overlap with the Press Law.

"These two articles in the RUU Penyiaran conflict with Law Number 40/1999 on the Press, which stipulates that journalistic disputes are resolved by the Press Council", he said.

Hartayan also highlighted Article 508 Paragraph 2 Letter (c) of the Broadcasting Bill which prohibits the exclusive broadcasting of investigative journalism.

Responding to the articles that are seen as silencing press freedom, the Surabaya IJTI also staged a theatrical performance depicting a journalist behind iron bars with both hands chained.

Then the journalist behind the bars was pulled out and forcibly dragged by two men dressed in suits while they tried to cover his mouth using duct tape.

In a speech, Hartayan conveyed three points. First, that all the problematic articles in the bill that threaten press freedom be cancelled. Second, involve the Press Council and the press community in discussing the Broadcasting Bill. And third, urging the government to restore the function of the press as the fourth pillar of democracy.

Democracy going backwards

The day before, journalists and reporters from various organisations in Bali agreed to reject the Draft Broadcasting Law, which they consider controversial and will do irreparable damage to press freedom.

They conveyed this in a statement during an action in front of the Bali Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) offices in the provincial capital Denpasar on Tuesday May 28.

The peaceful action was joined by journalists and reporters from various local, national and international media companies as well as several journalist organisations and students.

Upon entering the gates to the Bali DPRD offices, the journalists walked backwards in unison as a sign that with the Broadcasting Bill democracy is going backwards. Then when they approached the DPRD lobby, they squatted on the ground.

The symbolic action was held to indicate that the Broadcasting Bill is a step backwards and that the DPR members who want to enact the law are otak jongkok (literally squatting brains) or not using their brains properly.

Denpasar Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) advocacy coordinator Yoyo Raharyo said that one of the known curbs on press freedom contained in the Broadcasting Bill is the prohibition on the broadcast of investigative journalism.

According to Raharyo, this is a mistake in thinking, because investigative journalism is part of journalistic work. "If we look at it the DPR doesn't understand what the function of journalism is", he said.

Aside from rejecting the Broadcasting Bill, he said the peaceful action was also held to reject articles that are anti-press freedom, anti-democracy, anti-freedom of expression and anti-human rights (HAM).

"We reject the monopoly ownership of broadcasting institutions, and urge President Jokowi [Joko Widodo] and the DPR to reconsider the urgency of revising the Broadcasting Law or not to continue the deliberations on the Broadcasting Bill", said Raharyo.

He also demanded that President Widodo and the DPR involve meaningful public participation in the formation of regulations and legislation, both new and alternate laws as well as changes or revisions to laws.

"[We] demand that President Jokowi and the DPR involve the Press Council, journalist organisations, media company organisations and civil society groups that have special concerns on intersecting issues regarding the press, democracy and HAM", he said.

"[We] also demand that President Jokowi and the DPR delete the problematic articles that have the potential to violate the right to press freedom and the public's right to information", he stressed. (Antara, kdf/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Jurnalis Bali hingga Surabaya Jalan Mundur ke DPRD Tolak RUU Penyiaran".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20240529123816-20-1103291/jurnalis-bali-hingga-surabaya-jalan-mundur-ke-dprd-tolak-ruu-penyiara