INDONESIA: Journalist beaten as police clash

Published: Wed 6 Sep 2000 08:58 AM
* Pacific Media Watch Online:
Detikworld, September 3, 2000
Reporter: Abdul Haerah HR/ GB
JAKARTA: Tahar, a journalist from the Berita Kota newspaper, has been beaten by two members of Indonesia's military police after finding himself in the middle of an altercation between the military police, out partying after hours, and a local policeman.
Tahar had been sent out to cover a death by overdose story in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi, in the early hours of Sunday morning, 3 September 2000. He met Senior Inspector Mardjuki, Commander of the Panakkukang police precinct at the station and the two arrived at the scene around 3am local time.
The scene was only a short distance from the police station and the two headed back around 4 am, passing along the way the Kawanua Mas, a local night spot. Mardjuki told Tahar that he had warned the owner to close as the club's licence only ran to 2am before arriving at the scene of the overdose.
When Mardjuki attempted to enter the building, two members of the military police came out suddenly. The two in question were later revealed to be Captain Marpaung and Second Lieutenant Edward of the military police attached to the Wirabuana VII military territorial command, which covers the island of Sulawesi.
"We're friends of David's [the night spot owner]," said Marpaung. At that stage, Tahar dismounted his Vespar but stood on the sidelines. The two military police officers, the owner, Mardjuki and Tahar then proceeded to the police station. Tahar waited outside as the four argued in Mardjukiâ's office.
"We're like one force, that's not how you're acting," Marpaung reportedly told Mardjuki.
As tempers flared, Tahar poked his head in, asked to photograph them and
quickly snapped them in action before receiving an answer. Naturally, the two military [police did not accept this and set on the reporter, beating him and destroying the camera with the offending photo. Taharâ's walkie talkie and press card were also taken in the assault.
"You're a cat shit journo. I'm not afraid, go ahead and write about this," Marpaung yelled. Mardjuki attempted to stop the assault by warning the two against attacking journalists but they did not stop until satisfied.
Mardjuki phoned the district Commander asking for backup and 10 members of the Makassar central police arrived shortly after. Marpaung also called his junior offices and it became evident that the two were on duty at the time. Tahar also attempted to call a fellow journalist but was prevented from doing so by Marpaung.
When the additional police arrived, Marpaung continued his tirade which was answered with equal ferocity from the back up. Marpaung then drew his gun and challenged one officer to a duel.
"We have nothing more to say, step forward if you're brave enough," Marpaung yelled. The other 9 officers then drew their weapons.
The two military police then realised they were in over their heads and retreated to another room in the precinct. Shortly after, 8 military police officers arrived and Marpuang proceeded to deny beating Tahar.
"Who beat you?" Marpaung said.
Seeing things had settled down somewhat, Tahar insisted that the two be held responsible and that they return his walkie talkie and press card.
The highest ranking military police officer then attempted to persuade Tahar against exacerbating the situation and David, the owner of the bar, offered Tahar money to drop the issue.
Tahar, however, was adamant that the 2 military police own up.
"The chief of the precinct is my witness!" said Tahar, vowing to take the matter to the men's superiors.
The assault has been condemned by the Makassar branch of the Independent
Journalists Alliance (AJI).
"They must be punished," said Suparno, coordinator of the Workers Union and Advocacy division to Detikworld Sunday morning, September 3.
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