Indonesian Radio Station Closed by Police, Manager Sentenced to Jail

On September 13, Indonesian radio station Radio Era Baru was shut down by police and had equipment confiscated.  The raid is widely thought to be because of the station’s Falun Gong ties and outspoken views against China for its human rights abuses. On September 6, station manager Gatot Machali was sentenced to six months in jail and a nearly $6,000 fine for broadcasting without a license. Machali had ignored repeated requests from the government to halt broadcasts. Radio Era Baru is linked to the Falun Gong religious movement, and as a result, Machali claims the Chinese government has pressured Indonesian authorities to stop broadcasts.  Authorities have on numerous occasions –in 2007 and 2008—imposed restrictions on the station, refused to grant it a license, and in March 2010 shut the station down.

The closure of Radio Era Baru is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s broader attempt to wipe out the Falun Gong, seeing the spread of the independent spiritual movement as a threat to the CCP's power. In August 2011, China requested Vietnam detain two Falun Gong members for running an “unauthorized” radio station.  While, independent media in Indonesia, including Falun Gong practitioners, have a significant presence, strict licensing rules mean that thousands of television and radio stations operate illegally. Journalists in Indonesia have continued to face threats, harassment or murder because of their reporting on sensitive issues, including Ridwan Salamun who was killed in August 2010, and Banjir Ambarita who was injured when stabbed in March 2011.

Freedom House condemns the closure of Radio Era Baruand calls upon the Indonesian government to ensure that Radio Era Baru and other stations are permitted to broadcast without fear of closure or retaliation.
 
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