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Hundreds demonstrate against criminalisation of the press in Jakarta

Detik.com - September 7, 2004

Maryadi, Jakarta – Hundreds of people from the Committee Against the Criminalisation of the Press (Komite Anti Kriminalisasi Terhadap Pers, Kakap) held a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout on Sunday September 5 at 3pm. They were demanding the release of Tempo’s chief editor, Bambang Harymurti, who is a defendant in a case of defamation against businessperson Tomy Winata which is currently being heard in the Central Jakarta State Court.

The solidarity action, which was organised by members of the press, non-government organisations (NGO) and students, was held the day before the verdict is to be read by the judges on September 6. During the action demonstrators said that the decision by the panel of judges would have a serious influence of the freedom of the press in Indonesia.

[The demonstrators said that] All issues which are related to the press should be resolved though Law Number 40/1999 on the press and not by using the criminal code and that efforts are underway at the moment to restrict press freedom.

A number of figures from the press and NGOs were present at the action in which most of the participants wore black clothing. They were wearing black as a sign of morning for [the death of] press independence. Included among the figures present were Emmy Hafild, Bambang Harymurti and Azas Tigor Nainggolan.

Demonstrators also carried banners and posters with messages condemning efforts to restrict press freedom such as “Journalists are jailed, the corrupters spread” and “Use the press law, resist the press restricting Mafia”.

Although the demonstration was joined by hundreds of the people traffic at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout appeared to be flowing smoothly. No obvious security presence was apparent with only a number of police who could be seen guarding the action’s progress. (mar)

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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