Mon, 08 Aug 1994

80 journalists from Java set up rival association

SIRNAGALIH, West Java (JP): Journalists vowed yesterday to continue protests against the restriction of press freedom and have formed a union to challenge the government-sanctioned Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI).

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) was established in this hilly resort by more than 80 journalists from major cities such as Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, Yogyakarta and Surabaya in East Java.

After an all-night-long meeting, also attended by a number of scholars and activists, the journalists came up with a declaration which reaffirmed that freedom of speech, access to information and freedom of association were the basic rights of all people.

They also rejected all kinds of interference, intimidation, censorship and media bans which denied the freedom of speech and open access to information.

The maneuver was among the series of actions initiated by the journalists to protest the recent ban of three prominent magazines, Tempo, Editor and DeTIK.

Tempo lost its publication license for the content of its reports. The government revoked the publishing permits of Editor and DeTIK on the pretext that they violated the terms of their licenses.

On Thursday, around 100 protesting journalists expressed their anger at PWI for its failure to represent the displaced reporters and employees of the banned magazines.

The journalists claimed yesterday that PWI had failed to represent the interests of its members. "PWI has failed to carry out the trust given to it by the members," said Goenawan Mohamad, the chief editor of Tempo.

Goenawan is one of the signatories, which include other senior journalists like Eros Djarot and Fikri Jufri, the deputy editors of DeTIK and Tempo respectively, Aristides Katoppo, the former chief editor of the now defunct Sinar Harapan daily newspaper, as well as noted intellectuals Christianto Wibisono and Arief Budiman.

"We hope that this movement will push for the creation of a condition conducive for the freedom of expression," he said.

The declaration was signed by 55 people, including journalists, several editors of the banned magazines and activists.

The government has, in the past, revoked the license of several publications, such as the Prioritas and Sinar Harapan dailies and Monitor tabloid. (als/anr/09/par)