Jakarta – An online petition calling for the release of South Kalimantan journalist Diananta "Nanta" Putera Samedi, who was recently arrested for his reporting of a land dispute, continues to gather support, reaching over 10,000 signatures as of Sunday.
The petition, published on change.org, was started by the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) on behalf of Nanta's wife, Wahyu Widianingsih, and is aimed at President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Attorney General ST Burhanuddin and the judges overseeing the case.
"I hope that Pak Jokowi, Pak Attorney General and the panel of judges free my husband, because my husband was helping the little people and had no intention of inciting hatred," Wahyu said in the petition.
Nanta, the former chief editor of local media outlet banjarhits.id in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, was reportedly detained by police on May 4 after Sukirman, who claimed to represent the Dayak indigenous people, filed a defamation suit.
The defamation suit concerns an article Nanta wrote that was published in November 2019. The article covered an alleged land dispute in the province between the local Dayak community and a palm oil company owned by businessman Syamsudin "Haji Isam" Andi Irsyad.
"Of course, we cannot interfere with the legal process, but we can tell the truth and demonstrate what is happening," Balikpapan Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) advocacy head Fariz Fadhillah said in a statement on Saturday.
Fariz said the matter should have been closed when Sukirman reported the article to the Press Council, which is responsible for settling press disputes under the 1999 Press Law. In February, the Press Council issued a recommendation that banjarhits.id should publish Sukirman's right of reply and apologize."Banjarhits.id has carried out the Press Council's recommendation, so the matter is resolved," Fariz said. "Nanta carried out his duty as a journalist to fulfill the public's right to know about an incident, and that is protected by the Press Law."