Subject: Journalists’ Group Files Lawsuit Against Censor Over ‘Balibo’ Ban

via Joyo News

The Jakarta Globe

March 5, 2010

Journalists’ Group Files Lawsuit Against Censor Over ‘Balibo’ Ban

by Ismira Lutfia

The Jakarta chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Indonesian Censorship Institute for its decision to ban the film “Balibo.”

The move comes ahead of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to Australia next week.

This is SBY’s homework — to clear up this matter,” said Wahyu Dhyatmika, chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the alliance, also know as AJI.

Hendrayana, executive director of the Legal Aid Center for the Press (LBH Pers), which is representing AJI Jakarta in proceedings at the State Administrative Court, said the ban was a violation of the public’s right to information.”

In early December, the censorship institute, also know as the LSF, banned the film, which tells the story of five Australian journalists killed when Indonesian troops took over the border town of Balibo in East Timor in October 1975. A sixth journalist died weeks later when Indonesian forces invaded Dili.

The movie was originally scheduled to screen at the Jakarta International Film Festival in December and was submitted to the LSF by the festival organizer.

Hendrayana said the LSF had no clear reason to ban the film and officials’ worries that its screening might hurt bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia had proved to be unfounded.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has previously said the restriction was to protect the country’s image abroad. Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik has said the film was not fit to be screened and could damage relations between Indonesia, East Timor and Australia.

Hendrayana rejected those explanations.

It’s a work of art that deserves appreciation and even if it is banned, it has been screened publicly and has not resulted in any problems,” Hendrayana said.

Several arts organizations and journalists groups arranged private screenings after the ban was issued.

Thousands of people attended the screenings.

It is no longer necessary to issue any ban since the public can judge for themselves if the film is good or bad,” Hendrayana said.

Wahyu said the ban “has left a stain on the people-to-people relations of Indonesia and Australia since there is still a group of people, especially the victims’ families,” who seek justice for the killings.

Indonesia claims the journalists were killed accidentally in crossfire.

A 2007 Australian coroner’s inquest determined that Indonesian forces murdered them, prompting the Australian Police to launch an official investigation in September.

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