Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – The Jakarta Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) has condemned the acts of violence suffered by journalists during a Golkar Party Youth Movement event in Senayan, Jakarta, on Wednesday July 26.
AJI Jakarta advocacy and labour division head Irsyan Hasyim said that violence against journalists has occurred repeatedly ahead of the 2024 elections.
"This case represents a case of violence against journalists that continues to be repeated in the lead up to the 2024 political year. With regard to this violence, AJI Jakarta and the LBH Pers [Legal Aid Institute for the Press] condemn these acts of violence and efforts to obstruct the work of journalists committed by a group of people calling themselves an organisational wing of the Golkar Party", said Hasyim in a press release on Thursday July 27.
Hasyim said that the violence and intimidation against the journalists can be categorise as censorship of journalistic work, and that obstruction of the journalists fulfills the elements of Article 18 of Law Number 40/1999 on the Press.
The AJI Jakarta is therefore urging all parties to respect and support a climate of press freedom. "Without there being intimidation and obstruction of journalists' work in the field", he said.
The AJI Jakarta is also urging the police to take action against those who committed the violence and obstruction using the criminal offence stipulations under Article 18 Paragraph 1 of the Press Law.
Hasyim also said that they are appealing to media leaders to take responsibility for the safety of journalists working in the field.
"Provide knowledge on safety and trauma handling for journalists which might occur during coverage ahead of the political year or the implementation of the 2024 elections", he added.
Meanwhile for those parties who object to the new coverage they can pursue channels in accordance with prevailing laws, namely on the right of reply as contained in the Press Law.
Earlier, a discussion held by the Golkar Party Youth Movement ended in chaos. A number of unknown individuals suddenly arrived at the Pulau Dua restaurant in Senayan just as the event was about to begin and asked that the discussion not be continued.
A Kompas TV journalist who was recording the debate between the people and the organisers of the event was suddenly assaulted. Other media crews who were present at the location were also asked not to take picture during the debate. A cell phone belonging to a CNN Indonesia TV reporter was then seized and thrown away.
The discussion was taking up the theme "Save the Golkar Party, towards victory in the 2024 legislative elections".
The Golkar Youth Movement that organised the event has accused Golkar Chairperson Airlangga Hartarto of sending the group to disrupt the event. One of the speakers at the discussion was Ridwan Hisjam, who has openly called for Hartarto's removal through an extraordinary congress ahead of the 2024 elections. The leadership struggle within the Golkar Party – which shows many signs of Palace interference – has been brewing for some time but may have been triggered by Hartarto's alleged plan join the "opposition" electoral coalition led by the National Democrat Party (NasDem), which is backing former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan as its presidential candidate. Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, an influential powerbroker at the State Palace and close confidant of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, has said publically that he is ready to contest the party leadership and replace Hartarto if there is support among members.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "AJI Kecam Kekerasan terhadap Jurnalis yang Berulang Jelang Pemilu 2024".]