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November 21, 2020, 07.31 PM


JAKARTA, – Indonesian press freedoms have been put in the spotlight once again after Army soldiers taking down Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) banners featuring their head Rizieq Shihab in Jakarta confiscated the cell phone of a reporter covering the incident.

Reporter Nirmala Maulana said the incident occurred near the West Jakarta district of KS Tubun on November 20. “I took some photos of the operation on my cell phone before interviewing some locals in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.” 

“Then one of the soldiers shoved me down to the ground near my motorcycle. Then another soldier arrived and asked me to delete the photos I took.” Nirmala added that one of the men confiscated his phone before he could delete the pictures.

Also read: Jakarta Military Commander Calls For FPI's Disbanding

“A number of locals and soldiers saw the incident. I did not get to take a good look at the perpetrators,” he said.

“One of them told me to get my phone at the [Jakarta] Regional Military Command before they left. I then called [the newsroom] to report the incident.” Nirmala added that the military returned his phone. Editor-in-Chief Wisnu Nugroho said the soldiers’ actions violated a 1999 law on press freedoms.

"All parties, particularly the security forces, should understand and comply [with the press laws]. We regret their actions because they obstructed the media as they were doing their jobs.” 

Also read: President Jokowi Yet to Deliver Pledge to Allow Foreign Media to Papua and West Papua

If found guilty, the perpetrators face up to two years in jail or a Rp. 500 million []$35,296.10] fine.

Jakarta Military Command Colonel Refki Efriandana Edwar apologized for the incident. “The incident clearly violated [Jakarta Military Commander Army Major General Dudung Abdurachman], especially as other journalists and the public saw the operation,” he said.

“We are still trying to trace the perpetrators.” However, Efriandana did not say whether the Army will take further action against those responsible for the incident.

(Editor: Sabrina Asril)


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