M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – Indonesian press experienced dark history twenty-five years ago on June 21, 1994, when Tempo magazine was banned by Soeharto administration, the New Order era.
Tempo magazine editor in chief Arif Zulkifli calls on the public to not only view the event as the history of media silencing but also as the history of media resistance against suppression.
"This becomes our reminder that there was a time when the suppression of media was seriously opposed," he said Friday, June 21.
The banning against Tempo 25 years ago was related to the magazine's main report in criticizing the purchase of used warship from East Germany by the Research and Technology Minister B.J. Habibie.
Besides Tempo magazine, the Editor magazine and Detik tabloid were also banned. But, Tempo resisted by filing a lawsuit to court.
Arif Zulkifli, or Azul, viewed that the resistance against the ban is still relevant to this day of democracy era as the efforts to silence critics of media remain to exist.
Not only it is done by the government, but also by fanatic groups. "The efforts of depriving press freedom still occur," he said.
Tempo.co editor in chief, Wahyu Dhyatmika, said the 25th commemoration of the banning of Tempo yesterday asserted the importance of press freedom for democracy. Freedom of speech will not exist without press freedom.
"Without the freedom, the government will run without public supervision and tend to be authoritarian," he said.
Since its comeback in 1998, Wahyu went on, Tempo is committed to becoming the watchdog of democracy and human rights and dares to face the challenges and risks.
"That is the principle of Tempo and Tempo exists based on that values," he remarked.