Indonesia: journalist attacked while covering Sumatra land conflictEvent
- Initial Date
- Feb 4, 2020
- Event Description
MNC group journalist Indra Yoserizal was attacked by security officers from a forestry company while covering a clash between the company and residents in Pelalawan, Riau province on the island of Sumatra on February 4. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia call on authorities for direct investigation of the company to ensure the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice.
Yoserizal and several other journalists were covering the land conflict between the forestry company and residents at Gondai village, Pelalawan - a regency of Riau. The origins of the dispute stemmed from Nusa Wana Raya’s recent Supreme Court victory against another companyPeputra Supra Jaya, which it accused of operating an illegal palm plantation on the land.
Many residents involved in the conflict worked as plasma farmers and collaborated with Peputra Supra Jaya. Plasma smallholders are palm oil farmers who partner with a local company providing technical support as part of an overall agreement to sell their produce to that company. The Pelalawan farmers continue to claim Nusa Wana Raya took their land.
In the clash, around 100 Nusa Wana Raya security officers and residents confronted one another, with each side hurling stones. Yoserizal filmed security officers throwing stones after which several security officers grabbed and kicked the journalist. Security officers continued the attack even after Yoserizal had identified himself as a television journalist. They also detained Yoserizal and seized his equipment, which is yet to be returned. Yoserizal suffered bruising to his body and hands. He reported the case to the Pekanbaru Regional Office with the report letter No. STPL/69/II/ 2020/SPKT/RIAU. The company subsequently issued an apology, but the journalist is pursuing legal action for the attack.
In a joint statement with the Indonesian Journalists Safety Committee, AJI urged police to investigate the matter and punish all perpetrators. Under Indonesia’s Press Law, perpetrators who deliberately obstruct journalists’ work can be jailed up to two years or fined up to 500 million rupiahs (USD 36,000).
AJI said: “We also demanded the company or Nusa Wana Raya to impose sanctions to those offenders . . . We call all the parties in the country to respect journalists and protect them while they are on duty.”
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Media freedom
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Media Worker
- Agricultural business
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 4 February 2020, Indra Yoserizal, media worker, was beaten by the security personnel of a forestry company while filming the clash between the company security personnel and residents in Pelalawan, Indonesia.