CPJ CALLS ON NEW INDONESIAN PRESIDENT TO SUPPORT PRESS FREEDOM

August 1, 2001 12:00 PM ET


New York, August 1, 2001—In a July 30 letter to Megawati Sukarnoputri, the newly elected president of Indonesia, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on her to preserve and strengthen recent gains in press freedom.

CPJ cited reports that Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle may revive the Ministry of Information—a department which, under the authoritarian rule of Indonesia's former president Suharto, was used to censor and control the country's media.

The abolition of the ministry, coupled with a liberal print media law passed in the fall of 1999, led to a dramatic expansion of Indonesia's media, with hundreds of lively publications emerging to explore the political and social changes sweeping the country. The 1999 laws eliminated press licensing requirements and guaranteed that the press would be "free from any interference and intrusion."

On July 27, Indonesian journalists across the country began vigorous protests to prevent any attempt to revive the Ministry of Information. The protests followed reports in local and international media that members of Megawati's party favor the reimposition of bureaucratic checks on the country's press.


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