Anwar Siswadi, Jakarta – Around 50 journalists from four organizations, student press, residents, and artists staged a protest in front of the Bandung Metropolitan Police headquarters today, Thursday, August 31, 2023. The protestors were condemning police violence against journalists and civilians in Bandung.
"The police ought to have the knowledge that journalists are protected by law, but the reality is police violence against journalists is still rampant," said the Coordinator of the Advocacy Department of Bandung Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI Bandung), Fauzan Sazli, during his speech.
The peaceful protest was in response to an incident of police violence against civilians and two journalists during the Dago Elos riot on Monday evening, August 14, 2023.
According to the report received by AJI Bandung, the journalists were AR from the online media Bandung Bergerak and AES, a reporter from Radar Bandung. The police hit both journalists on their shoulders, stomachs, thighs, and hands, as well as pulled on their hair and hit their heads with a stick.
AR who was arrested by the police, showed their press identity and admitted to be a journalist, but was ignored. "AR was also threatened to be killed by the police," said Fauzan. According to AJI Bandung, police violence toward journalists is a grave crime.
On the other hand, the chief of Bandung Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner Budi Sartono was unwilling to comment on the case when met by Tempo on August 16 after meeting with the Dago Elos' civilian representatives and their attorneys.
AJI recorded 58 cases of police violence on journalists from January to August 2023, with 12 of them being physical attacks.The Dago Elos case is a murky precedent on the press freedom in this country. Under the shadow of repression, journalists will no longer feel secure while doing their job.
The Journalist Coalition for Press Freedom condemned police violence against journalists and urged the institution to honor the profession as mandated by Law No. 40 of 1999 concerning the Press.
The coalition also demanded a guarantee for the civilians' freedom of expression, especially in relation to the upcoming 2024 general elections. In addition, the coalition also invited all journalists in Bandung and other areas in West Java to unite and fight for the freedom of the press.