The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about a recent attack on a magazine office in Jakarta. Three Molotov Cocktail bombs were thrown at the office of Tempo magazine by unidentified men. No injuries were sustained. However there are concerns that the incident may be connected to a critical article on the police which was carried in its latest edition, and that the attack may not therefore be adequately investigated.
According to the testimony of security guards at the Tempo Magazine office, two men on a motorcycle stopped in front of the building and threw three Molotov Cocktails – homemade bombs – at about 2.40am on 6 July 2010. The bombs hit a window and two of them exploded. Security guards were able to extinguish the fire but failed to identify or apprehend the culprits. No one sustained any injuries and no other damage was done.
Although the perpetrators have yet to be identified, there are concerns that the attack is related to a controversial feature published in the most recent issue of the magazine (28th of June – 4th of July 2010), which criticized the Indonesian police, The edition, titled “Overweight Piggy Banks of Police Officers” (“Rekening Gendut Perwira Polisi”), featured an investigative report on bank accounts owned by high ranking police officers.
We are told that after the editions were distributed early on the morning of 28 June, organized groups of men in civil clothing were seen in newspaper vendors across the city, buying each vendor’s entire stock. Staff at some newspapers and magazines agencies have reported that the men paid between Rp 40.000 and Rp 70.000 for each copy, which is well over the normal Rp 27.000 price. Tempo accordingly re-printed the same edition the next day.
The head of the police public relations department, General Edward Aritonang, has denied that the operation was linked to police personnel, and has dubbed the incident a marketing strategy of the magazine. However, according to the deputy of the same division, Brigadier General Zainuri Lubis, the police agency is considering taking legal action against Tempo on the grounds that the cover of the edition – which depicts a police officer holding three piggy banks – is insulting. The Chief of the Indonesian National Police, General Bambang Hendarso Danuri, has said that the cover likened police to pigs, which are haram or forbidden animals, according to Islamic beliefs.
Mediation between the two parties will be held on 8 of July 2010, initiated by the press council.
To clear the police of suspicion relating to this attack and reassure Indonesians that freedom of expression is fully protected and respected in Indonesia, it must be immediately and thoroughly investigated, with the perpetrators held to legal account.
Please write to the authorities listed below to urge for a serious inquiry to be conducted into the arson attack on the Tempo offices.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has written to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, informing them of this case.
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INDONESIA: Please ensure that the arson attack on Tempo magazine is investigated
Name of victim: Tempo Magazine
Names of alleged perpetrators: Unidentified
Date of incident: 6 July 2010
Place of incident: Menteng, Central Jakarta
I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the arson attack on the office of Tempo Magazine by two unidentified men, who threw three Molotov bombs at the front of the building.
I am informed that the attack took place just a few days into a dispute between the magazine and the Indonesian National Police regarding the cover story carried in the magazine’s latest edition (28 June – 4 July 2010), which reported on bank accounts held by high ranking police officers. I understand that on the morning of the magazine’s distribution, organized groups of men in civil clothing were seen at newspaper vendors across the city, buying each vendor’s entire stock for up to twice the usual price of the magazine, causing the magazine to reprint the edition the following day. If proven to be linked to the police, this would violate the right to information guaranteed by Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution, and it must therefore be investigated properly.
Although the head of the police public relations department has denied that the buying operation was linked to police personnel, the police agency is considering taking legal action against Tempo on the grounds that the cover of the edition – which depicts a police officer holding three piggy banks – is insulting. A mediation session has been scheduled for 8 July.
I am fully aware that the connection between the incident and the police has not been proven, and I thus urge you to ensure that a serious investigation is conducted into the crime, to discern the real perpetrators and motives behind the attack.
A free press is an integral part of the right to free expression, and in both cases mentioned above, such rights were violated. I would like to underline that Indonesia is committed to guaranteeing the freedom of its press, in its’ constitution, in Law No. 40/1999, and Indonesia’s decision to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As a state representative it is now your responsibility to take action and ensure that a proper inquiry is conducted in these two cases, to reassure the Indonesian public that its government will protect free expression in the country.
I look forward for your swift action in this case.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Bagir Manan
Chairman of Indonesian Press Council
Gedung Dewan Pers Lantai VII
Jl. Kebon Sirih No. 32-34
Tel: +62 21 352 1488, 350 4877, 350 4874, 350 4875
Fax: +62 21 345 2030
2. Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director of Human Rights
Department of Law and Human Rights Republic of Indonesia
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav.6-7 Kuningan, Jakarta 12940
Tel: +62 21 525 3006, 525 3889, 526 4280
Fax: +62 21 525 3095
3. General Bambang Hendarso Danuri
Chief of Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
4. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President of Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara Jakarta Pusat 10010
Tel: +62 21 384 5627, ext. 1003
Fax: +62 21 231 4138, 345 2685, 345 7782
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)