JAKARTA: Dozens of journalists staged a protest in Jakarta on Friday in support of two journalists given seven-year jail sentences in Myanmar for disclosing state secrets.
Protesters in front of the Myanmar Embassy voiced their anger at the jailing of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo earlier this week. The journalists wore black and had their hands tied and mouths covered to symbolize suppression of press freedom.
They also carried banners saying “Journalism is not a crime,” “Free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo” and “Defend press freedom.”
The rally was organized by the Jakarta branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists and Freelance Journalists Forum.
“Journalists are not criminals. Free our friends,” Fira Abdurachman, the rally coordinator, shouted to the crowd.
“Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace prize laureate, she should know better than us about peace, about press freedom. The media helped her shoot to fame, but now she seems to forget what the media stands for,” Abdurachman said.
Journalists demanded that Suu Kyi be stripped off her Nobel Peace prize and called for the immediate release of their Myanmar counterparts.
The two-hour protest was peaceful with a police heavy presence at the embassy gates.
The head of AJI Jakarta’s advocacy division, Erick Tanjung, told the crowd that the seven-year prison sentence given to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is “a serious threat to press freedom, a bad precedent and a major setback to democracy in Myanmar.”
“It is important for Myanmar and other countries in Southeast Asia to ensure a condition for press freedom, which will spur the government’s transparency and accountability,” Tanjung said.
“This is also a warning for Indonesian journalists, because Myanmar is one of our neighboring countries, so it could happen to Indonesian journalists as well,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club strongly condemned the jailing of the two Myanmar journalists and said that the verdict sent a worrying message about press freedom in the country.