A journalist, an editor of online media outlet cermat.co.id, and an official partner of kumparan.com, Mr Nurcholis Lamau, was intimidated and beaten by the family of the Deputy Mayor of Tidore Island, Mr Muhammad Sinen because of an editorial article he wrote criticising some of the Deputy Mayor public remarks. This incident occurred at Nurcholis’ house in Rum Balibunga Village, Tidore City, on 31 August 2022, not long after Nurcholis Lamau published the editorial titled “Breathing Coal Dust Get Rewards” on the online media cermat.co.id. The Deputy Mayor’s family did not accept this editorial article, which cited a statement given by the Deputy Mayor of Tidore Islands at the opening of a domino tournament in Rum Balibunga Village, North Tidore District.
In his remarks, Deputy Mayor Sinen said among other things that residents who live around the coal-fired power plants (PLTU) should not be angry and reject the existence of the Coal PLTU. If the pollution affects residents, they should enjoy it in peace. Because even though they are victims, other people are calm, so the citizens get the reward. Sinen’s statement. Nurcholis quoted and criticised this statement in his article. According to Nucholis, Sinen, as a public official, does not empathise with the residents, who have long been affected and strongly reject the existence of PLTU in their residential areas. Nurcholis himself is relatively active in covering the PLTU issue and is present during meetings between residents, PLTU, and the Tidore City Government.
On the night of 30 August 2022), the opinion link published on the cermat.co.id website was then shared by Nurcholis to the journalist’s WhatsApp group and social media accounts. A bit after midnight, Muhammad Sinen’s younger brother, Usman Sinen, came to Nurcholis’s residence in Rum Balibunga village. Usman urged Nurcholis to delete the editorial article. He stated that Muhammad Sinen was at the opening of the domino tournament with his family as a private citizen and not as Deputy Mayor of Tidore Islands. Usman also said that the phrase “inhaling coal dust can be rewarded” that Sinen conveyed was just a joke. Usman urged Nurcholis to delete the opinion because it is considered disturbing to the interests of Muhammad Sinen in the upcoming 2024 election. After coordinating with cermat.id editorial, the opinion was actually deleted.
On 31 August at around 9 am, Sinen’s nephew Ari (the eldest son of his brother Yunus Sinen) came knocking on Nucholis door. Nurjanah Yahya, Nurcholis’ wife, met Ari and said that Nurcholis was still sleeping, but Ari asked him to call Nurcholis immediately. Nurcholis was awakened by his wife and met Ari on the terrace of his house. Ari asked Nurcholis the purpose of making such an opinion
Ari was angry and said rudely, “You are just a newcomer; are you a master? Why don’t you talk to my uncle Muhammad Sinen nicely but write like that!” Before I had time to explain, Sinen’s nephew threw a blow to the head and back of the neck of Nurcholis Lamau twice. Ari also challenged Nurchlolis Lamau to report it to the police, “Want to report to the police? Please, I’ll wait 5 minutes,” said Ari. This beating was witnessed by the wife of Nurcholis Lamau and his brother-in-law from behind the house window.
Another violent incident took place again on the same day at around noon. Nurcholis, accompanied by his wife, was inside the Police Integrated Service Center (SPKT) of the Tidore Police of Nusantara City to report the earlier aggression. Suddenly Muhammad Sinen, Ari, and Ari’s father, Yunus Sinen, arrived at the police centre. Muhammad Sinen immediately approached Nurcholis, squeezing his face while threatening him. “Oh, you. Wait, you!”. The police present watched and then separated the two.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) of Ternate condemned this incident. In its release on September 1, 2022, AJI urged the Tidore Islands Police to investigate the case of persecution and intimidation against Nurcholis to completion. The police must investigate the intellectual actors who cause acts of intimidation and persecution because they are proven to have violated Law Number 40 of 1999 concerning the Press. AJI Ternate also asked the public and state officials to respect the journalistic duties of journalists, especially female journalists who are vulnerable to violence. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), representing more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries, also condemned the incident. Through an article entitled “Indonesia: Journalist assaulted by the family of Tidore’s deputy major”, published Friday (02/09/2022), the IFJ called on the police authorities to ‘drag’ the alleged perpetrators to justice. The IFJ said: “The obstruction of legitimate independent reportage by public officials and their family members is a clear act of censorship and repression of press freedom. The IFJ condemns the intimidation and assault of Nurcholis Lamau and calls on the Indonesian authorities to bring those responsible to justice.”
The Tidore Police Chief, AKBP Setyo Agus Hermawan, received the incident news. He said that he, personally and in office, objected to Muhammad Sinen’s actions. The police chief admitted that he had confirmed Muhammad Sinen. Muhammad Sinen apologised, and the apology was asked to be made public on Monday, September 5, 2022.
However, in a press conference by Muhamad Sinen and his lawyer on Monday, September 5, 2022, he threatened to report Nurcholis Lamau and plans to report several Facebook accounts that he believes are leading opinions regarding this issue by cornering Sinen. Muhammad Sinen said that his visit to the Tidore Resort Police on August 31 2022, was to confirm the whereabouts of his nephew. He received information that his nephew Ari was reported to be related to the case of beating Nurcholis. He also came to question the intent and purpose of the Opinion and accused Nurcholis of responding arrogantly to provoke his anger. But this information is only one-sided on the part of Muhammad Sinen. This statement also seems far-fetched; why is he looking for his nephew’s whereabouts while he goes to the resort police with his nephew?
Violence against journalists is one of the severe problems to press freedom in Indonesia. From 2022 until today (September 8, 2022), AJI Indonesia recorded 29 cases of violence against journalists. It is rare for perpetrators of violence against journalists to be prosecuted and tried in court.
Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Rum Balibunga (0.736364568143848, 127.38999816014878)
administrative region: Indonesia, North Maluku Province, Tidore Islands City, North Tidore District, Rum Balibunga Village
total number of victims: one
period of incident: 31.08.2022
perpetrator details: Deputy Mayor of Tidore and his family
Issues: freedom of expression, ill-treatment
Sources: https://advokasi.aji.or.id/read/data-kekerasan/2054.html?y=2021&m=1&ye=2022&me=9 Further HRM News:
|Nurcholis Lamau, journalist with a pseudonym name
|freedom of expression, ill-treatment