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Indonesian Journalists Protest Alleged Assault by Ruling Party Official

About 30 journalists rallied in front of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party office in Jakarta Saturday to protest a reported assault against a journalist by a Democratic Party official. The protesting journalists say the attack against one of their colleagues is also an assault on press freedom.

The incident reportedly happened during a Democratic Party vice presidential campaign visit to the province of Papua. The alleged victim Julia Odeadata worked for Sinar Harapan, an Indonesian daily newspaper.

Fellow Sinar Harapan journalist Norman Meoko says he spoke with her recently and that she sustained back injuries.

He says we hope the police will not be afraid to prosecute this case even though we know the suspect is a ruling Democratic party member.

Widi Widodo, president of the Jakarta journalist association, says the demonstrators came to show solidarity and speak out against what they say is ongoing repression of journalist rights by the government.

On behalf of journalists, he says, he urges all the candidates, whoever is elected, to eliminate violence against the press.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says that press freedom conditions have improved markedly in Indonesia with the recent consolidation of democracy. But journalists in provincial areas complain they still face frequent threats and harassment when reporting on sensitive issues.