Protesters leave after praying at Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque, February 11, 2017. (Reuters/Beawiharta Beawiharta)
Protesters leave after praying at Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque, February 11, 2017. (Reuters/Beawiharta Beawiharta)

TV reporters attacked while covering Indonesia protest

Bangkok, February 13, 2017–Indonesian authorities should identify and bring to justice those responsible for assaulting two journalists with broadcaster Metro TV at a February 11 demonstration in the capital Jakarta, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Metro TV reporter Desi Fitriani and cameraman Ucha Fernandez told CPJ that participants in the demonstration by Islamist groups calling for a Muslim to be elected governor of Jakarta yelled at the two journalists and grabbed Fernandez by the arms to prevent him from filming at Jakarta’s landmark Istiqlal Mosque. Fernandez told CPJ that protestors drove him and Fitriani from the site, shouting “liars” and “go away,” and that he was beaten and kicked in the abdomen, back, neck, and legs, and that protesters hit him with plastic water bottles. Fitriani told CPJ that a protester hit her on the head with a bamboo pole.

Soldiers eventually escorted the reporters and a member of their security team to a nearby church, Fernandez said. The journalists sustained minor injuries that did not require medical attention, they said.

“Indonesia should prosecute all of those involved in the attack on Metro TV reporters Desi Fitriani and Ucha Fernandez to the fullest extent of the law,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “President Jokowi Widodo should send a strong and clear message that his government will protect journalists from mob violence.”

Fitriani and Fernandez said that they reported the incident to police later that day, and that they were told they were investigating the incident. Police had not yet identified suspects or arrested anyone, the reporters said. The journalists showed CPJ five photographs of the incident taken by other journalists who were also covering the demonstration.