Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The Indonesian Press Council (IPC) has ruled that Tempo weekly's headline of an investigative report violated had the Press Code of Ethics by mentioning the infamous Tim Mawar (Rose Team) of the Army's elite Special Forces (Kopassus) and linking its former member to the May post-election riots in Jakarta.
Tempo's report, entitled "Rose Team and the Sarinah Unrest", revealed that former Tim Mawar member Fauka Noor Farid played a key part in mobilizing protestors, which led to violence and rioting between the evening of May 21 and the early hours of May 23.
"Mentioning Tim Mawar in the report's headline violated Article 3 of the Press Code of Ethics because it contained editorialized opinions.
The title 'Rose Team and the Sarinah Unrest' is an exaggeration because the 'Tim Mawar' that was involved in a series of activist kidnappings in 1998 had been disbanded," the council said in a written statement on Saturday.
"The allegation was not based on adequate information and it was not enough to be the basis for associating Tim Mawar with the riots."
"Tempo's investigative reported itself doesn't violate the code of ethics, but the headline containing 'Tim Mawar' is [...] presumptuous. The fact is, only one member [of the group] was involved and Tim Mawar itself no longer exists," IPC member Hendry CH Bangun said as quoted by kompas.com.
The council described the article itself as "a balanced report with in-depth verification".
According to the report, Fauka, who is also a member of the Gerindra Party, arranged meetings to discuss the protests with other members of Garda Prabowo, a Prabowo Subianto support group that Fauka founded and heads.
Previously, the former commander of Tim Mawar, May. Gen. (ret.) Chairawan filed a complaint against Tempo with both the IPC and the police, saying he objected to the magazine's insinuations about his role in the riots.
The council then held a series of hearings to get Tempo and Chairawan's explanations.
Chairawan was a member of the campaign team for Prabowo and running Mate Sandiaga Uno in the April presidential race. His relationship with Prabowo goes back to when they were in Kopassus together. Prabowo was the commandant-general when Tim Mawar allegedly kidnapped activists and students critical of then-president Soeharto.
Nine people were killed and hundreds of others injured in the May riots. Police have detained several key figures from Prabowo's campaign team on charges of treason, instigating the riot and formulating assassination plots. Chairawan was not one of them.
The editor in chief of Koran Tempo, Budi Setyarso, said as quoted by kompas.com that Tempo would follow the IPC's instruction to publish Chairawan's reply.
He emphasized that the ruling only applied to the headline and it did not mean that the whole report was questionable.