Indonesian journalists injured in police clashes
Tear gas and rubber bullets fired at fuel price protestors
Press passes hang in front of a sign protesting a proposed fuel price hike (AJI Indonesia)
Two journalists were among nine people injured yesterday during police crackdowns on coordinated protests against an imminent hike in fuel prices in Indonesia.
Antonius Nugroho Kusumawan, a video journalist from TRANS7 television channel, was taken to hospital after a tear gas canister struck him below the eye during a 500-stong rally in Jambi.
Photojournalist Roby Kelerey was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet when police opened fire on protestors in Ternate, North Maluku. He has since undergone surgery.
The Ternate incident happened when about 1,500 university students attempted to seal off an airport in protest at the government’s plan to raise fuel prices. Local police spokesperson Hendri Badar confirmed that seven students were hit by rubber bullets, mostly in their legs and hands.
Following a rally in Jakarta, 88 people were arrested. The Indonesian government has reportedly begun interrogating dozens of people.
Kusumawan has also undergone surgery. His wife, Niken Wulandari, told ucanews.com today that the video journalist claimed he had been shot at close range by a tear gas canister.
“We want this case to be investigated so that perpetrator can be identified,” she said.
Fuel prices in Indonesia are expected to increase by around 33 percent, although legislators yesterday agreed to provide the poor with extra financial assistance to shield them from the impact of the hike.
“We have experience in raising fuel prices,” presidential spokesperson Julian Aldrin Pasha told VOA News in the wake of the protests. “[We] went through all these experiences with protests. This is the dynamic of the freedom of expression in Indonesia.”
But the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia condemned the crackdown.
“AJI Indonesia wants perpetrators to be punished because they failed to do their job professionally, putting journalists at risks,” said Eko Maryadi, chairman of the group.
According to AJI Indonesia, at least 25 instances of violence against journalists took place between Januray and early May.
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