As tragedy deepens, a courageous newspaper staff is mourned

New York, December 30, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened at the loss of media colleagues in the devastating tsunami that has claimed more than 100,000 lives in South Asia.

Among the hardest-hit regions was the province of Aceh in Indonesia, where the dead included journalists and media workers who have reported for years amid a violent civil war.

Most of the 80 staff members of Serambi Indonesia, Aceh’s only daily newspaper, are missing or dead after the December 26 tsunami tore through its offices in Banda Aceh. Since its founding in the early 1990s, the Indonesian-language newspaper has been one of the only sources of information from the war-ravaged Aceh Province. Serambi journalists routinely faced violent attacks, threats, and intimidation from both sides of the conflict between Indonesian military forces and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

The government, which had banned foreign journalists from covering the separatist rebellion there, allowed the international media into Aceh to report on the devastation.
But missing from coverage of the disaster were the voices of many local journalists; the Web site of Serambi Indonesia remained fixed today at Saturday, December 25, and the Indonesian press organization Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) reported that 16 of 25 members in Banda Aceh have not been found.

“Each life lost in this disaster brings immeasurable consequences for those who survive,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We remember the journalists and media workers killed in Aceh for their brave contributions to reporting, and extend our deepest condolences to their families and surviving colleagues.”

AJI is seeking donations for its members in affected areas, including Aceh. Financial assistance may be sent to:

Beneficiary Name: Alliance of Independent Journalists
Bank Name: BNI Senayan Branch
Bank Address: JL Gatot Subroto Kav. 55
Jakarta, Indonesia 10210
Account Number: 446-1479

To contact AJI directly, email [email protected].