Jakarta — An NGO for human rights SETARA Institute criticized the demonstration carried out by mass organization Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) protesting Tempo caricature on Friday, March 16 at Tempo office building. Setara Institute Vice Chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos stated the rally was clearly an intimidation act of the press as the fourth pillar of democracy.
“The mass mobilization (mob) against the journalistic work was initially a physical and psychological assault to the media as a public control in democracy,” Bonar said in a written statement in Jakarta on Saturday, March 17. Around 200 FPI members on Friday afternoon held a rally to demand an official apology from Tempo regarding the cartoon that was considered insulting or harassing Muslims especially FPI leader, Rizieq Shihab.
The peaceful rally turned chaotic with verbal violence, slamming the table, throwing mineral water cup, and forcibly taking Tempo Magazine Editors’ eye-glasses committed by the demonstrators. Bonar stated actually the objection towards a group’s product and journalism work is justified in the democratic world. However, he argued, the right way to vocalize it was through the Press Council, not stage a protest.
The steps to questioning press institutions through the Press Council is one aspect of democratic activity provided by the state to ensure the social order and public civility, as in accordance with the Law No. 40/1999 Article 15 on the Press. Moreover, Bonar condemned demonstrators who forcibly grabbing the sunglasses of Tempo Magazine Chief Editor Arif Zulkifli and throwing it into the crowd while stating his clarification on the FPI command car. He stated such action is a crudity that should have been prevented by the police.
The police shall not tolerate intimidation and physical action occurred during a rally staged by FPI. “Such omission is a violation of human rights,” Bonar stated.