Subject: AJI protest against banning alternative press in Timor
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 08:57:42 +0000
From: (TAPOL)

The Independent Alliance of Journalists (AJI) has written to the Department of Information in East Timor protesting strongly at a call issued earlier this week by the People's Front of East Timor (BRTT) for five alternative publications to be banned. The five publications are: Talitu (or possibily Talitakum), Unidade, Avante and Tuba. [The names of only four publications are mentioned.]

As an organisation that has fought for the principle of press freedom, AJI rejects any attempts to prevent the free flow of information. The fact that these publications have not received a licence is no reason for them to be prohibited. AJI also rejects the argument that the publications are seen as containing propaganda aimed at undermining the government.

The journalists' organisation calls on the Information Department in East Timor not to comply with the BRTT demand because it is a blatantly anti-democratic move.

AJI points out that the Information Minister himself has said on several occasions that he agrees to the abolition of the system of press licences, the weapon used in the New Order to murder the press. The new draft law on the press contains no mention of press licencing. It is therefore very inappropriate for an editor like Salvador Ximenes (of the BRTT) to be talking about licences.

AJI therefore calls on the BRTT to withdraw its demand for the five publications to be banned, urges the information department to ignore the demand and calls on all press professionals in the alternative media and journalists in general to adopt an independent stand and stand up for freedom of the press.

The letter dated 23 Janue 1999, is signed by Lukas Luwarso, chairman and Dadang RHs, Secretary of AJI.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: Internet: Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

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