Rabu, September 05, 2007

My Story : Journalist in Deep Fear

It was 3 o’clock early in the morning, when I arrived at my house. I have just escaped from a bitter experience at an international standard hotel and a police station, but I still could not calm myself. I went to a bathroom to take wudhu (Moslem ritual ablution before praying) and then I prayed. I thanked God because I could escape from the bad situation. I took away my Moslem dress and still wore my trouser.

Actually, I’m not used to sleep wearing a trouser. Usually, I wear sarong or pajama. My wife has lain in the bed with an 8-days-borned baby. My baby’s name consists of three syllables namely Ali Anzi Muntazhar, where the first name “Ali” I took it from a nickname for holly people, whereas the second or middle name “Anzi” I took and searched from a dictionary, a beautiful name means “my wellspring”. The last name “Muntazhar” is the nickname of the last Imam (Moslem leader), which was the waiting prophet.

I also did an Aqiqah (a Moslem ceremony on the occasion of childbirth) by chipping a billygoat and almsgiving of Arabian rice made by my mother for our neighbors in Condet, East of Jakarta. I didn’t do my first plan to do a “cutting hair ceremony” in the 7th day of the childbirth because I have not found an ustadz (a Moslem master or teacher) to do so. I also have not found a person who is willing to cut my baby’s hair.

Even my mother told that she would not come to the ceremony if I forced to cut her grand child’s hair, “Oh, what a pity! He is still a baby. I’m worry to see a bald baby,” she disclosed.

My family also suggested postponing the hair cut ceremony. I, who formerly insisted, finally yield because I have not find an ustadz or a person who can lead the ceremony accord with my religion.

In that early morning, I went to my bedroom and lay down on my bed next to my baby. He fasted asleep in the middle of my wife and me. “Darling, why don’t you change your trouser with sarong?” asked my wife intimately.

We actually agreed not to call each other by “mama - papa”. Indeed, the expression is also not accord with our religion and custom, which prohibited marrying the nearest relation decline. My wife also feels uncomfortable if she just calls my name although I suggested calling only my name without any expression.

I just quietly not answered and I took a deep breath. I hold tight my wife’s hands. I felt so sleepy, but mind were still dreaming of my last incident. Suddenly I pulled away my wife’s hand and then I moved backside. "Darling, what’s happened?" my wife asked softly.

I remained silent.

A few times later, I heard a strange sounds, “grasak-grusuk”. Someone walked into my house. He called a name but that wasn’t mine. "Burhan... Burhan..," he screamed.

When I took a peek behind a curtain, I saw a man who drove a black car that took me from hotel to the police station. ''Yes, that policeman," I said in my heart, which I knew later the Captain’s name, Indra Pramugari.

I calmed my wife, “Darling, just keep calm, ok.” My wife was silent. She still didn’t know anything. I quickly got up from my bed and then took a key to open the door.

The police were directly surrounded my house with a gun in their hands and ready to pull the trigger. "Come in, but ssssst my baby is sleeping. Don’t be noisy;” I said in relax.

I put away my fear, and when the door opened not only the Captain who entered but also six other people, with the creep faces and most of them were fat. Their eyes wildly stared at all corners and checked something in my house, which only has 12 x 5 meters wide. My stomach was suddenly upset when I saw their faces, “Just a moment, I want to go to restroom, my stomach is upset,” I said to the Captain.

Another fat policeman said sarcastically, “No, no need it! Follow us. Quick!”

But I didn’t care. I went to the restroom and the police tried to prevent the restroom’s door to keep open. Two police guarded. I didn’t care, because my stomach was too upset. I stayed in the toilet for a few minutes. At worst, I forced but nothings out, but then I washed. "So quick," said the Captain.

"Because of you, nothing bowels out!'' I bite slowly.

Yes, it was because they sat around in front of the restroom.

“Just a moment, I need to dress up,” I said to the Captain and I entered my bedroom. I only wanted to talk to the Captain, because I only know him and he is more sympathy than the others.

“No need to dress up!” said other police tried to prevent, but I didn’t care and I took a shirt from the wardrobe.

The door kept open and guarded by the police. The Captain stood in front of my bedroom watching my movements, whereas the others watched all over my house with their wild eyes.

I told my wife while I was dressing “I will go for a while. I have just come from police station, and then I went home. Just be calm, ok, keep calm!” I said.

My wife remained silent reflectively.

Afterwards, the fat policeman showed a red color sheet to my wife “We are from police force,” he said. Guarded by six policemen, I went out from my house in a village area of Condet, East Jakarta, in the dark early morning. I saw the head of neighborhood (in Indonesia we say “Ketua RT”) was walking to a small street on the way to his home. He has just finished doing his duty for telling police about one of his people to be arrested. The policemen and I walked for 300 meters along the village street.


Our village always closed by a portal from midnight until early in the morning, so the police car, a Toyota Kijang, could only park on the side street, exactly at Jalan Raya Condet. I forced to enter the Kijang. I saw another car, a Suzuki Cary, followed us. It was shown that the police faces were happy to tell about my detention story, "I’m sure he will go back home, because it is not criminal,'' said the Captain to his friend. I heard it from Handy Talky, which was continuously heard.

“Kijang is on hand,” reported the Captain. Well, the police usually call the hunted person by “Kijang”.

The Toyota Kijang was driven fast to the police station. “You, fled troublemaker!” one man with civies and a bit pallid face tried to hit me when we arrived at the police station, but I dodged and he also stopped it although the other police who guarded me didn’t prevent him to hit.

I was confronted to a fat man with mustache and hold a Major Commander. His name is Haji Abdullah, but he usually called Haji Mayor. He is a section head of a police unit in Jakarta Regional Police Station (Polda Metrojaya). After a while, I was confronted to another police, the Chief, Colonel Nurfaizi. A man with a white dress who seemed trying to bind his honor, although I know that he had just awakened up from his sleep. It looked from his misty face and eyes.

He immediately dropped of several questions and accused that I fled the police station without permission. I denied, “I have permitted to the post guard. But then… am I arrested?”

"Permission?! Who permitted you? Show me who!” insisted the Chief.

"Yes, permission from a police in the post guard,” I answered.

''Haji Mayor, take him to the post guard, make him show a person who permitted him to go away from this office,” commanded the Chief to Haji Mayor.

I was taken to the post guard by Haji Mayor, "Quick… show me who he is!” insisted Haji Mayor.

I looked around. “Show me! Quick!” he insisted another time.

"Gosh, no one. But if I see the name label, I can remember,” I answer calmly.

I knew the person was in that room but I didn’t have a heart to sacrifice a poor man only because of my freedom or only to help Haji Mayor pleased his Chief.
I was confronted again to the Chief room. “So, have you find the person?” asked the Chief.

“He said no, Sir,” answered Haji Mayor quickly.

Another police came; I remembered that he was the one who gave me a cup of tea last night when I locked up in the Chief’s data room. "That must be him, right?” asked the Chief while he was investigating me.

"Oh, no.. he’s not. I didn’t know this person,” I said in lie but I am sure that God permit me to make such lie in this condition.

Actually I knew him, this police was kind to me, but I kept quiet. This low level police are not included in a group of people who do bad things for their interest, unlike their superiors, who are willing to sacrifice his staffs for their needs and positions. I am sure of that, because when I was a journalist in Bandung, I often get duties in police force.

He seemed very upset, because the provost investigated him for giving permission to let me go away from the police station. "Why did you run away?” asked the Chief once more. "I was upset of taking here and locked up in a room without having attention,” I disclosed.


I was arrested in a Journalist Gathering held by The Alliance of Independent Journalist (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen that is known by AJI) at Wisata International Hotel in Jakarta, on the 16th of March 1995.

The Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) is a journalist organization formed to against “New Order” authoritarianism under Soeharto regime, where all organizations should be one unity to be deal with government under President Soeharto’s authoritarian and journalist organization was only permitted in a group of the Association of Indonesian Journalist (Persatuan Wartawan Indonesia that is known by PWI). The organization was not only supported journalists professions but also depressed journalists who were critically write about government, committed journalists into prison, had a share of closing down and forbid mass media that write improperly about the power and militaristic authoritarian. Despite having political power, PWI also under pressed mass media and became a place for corruption. AJI was formed on the 7th of August 1994, several months after three mass media, which are Tempo, Editor and Detik, closed down. Four organizations from Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Jakarta, knew that PWI was partied to government and not supported the closed down mass media without reason. I was elected as a Chief Presidium of AJI in the journalists meeting.

One of AJI’s activities was publishing an alternative mass media that called Independen, because mass media was mainstream and afraid of writing critical news about government, especially about Soeharto Family, their huge businesses and militaries. As a Chief Pesidium of AJI, my name was posted in that media together with the five presidium members. This media wrote the news from critical journalists who could not post their writings freely. This media is very simple, and can only be read by limited people. But, up to the 12th edition, the media could publish 12,000 copies for each month.

Well, at the AJI Journalist Gathering, the newest issue about the dispute in governmental cabinet was sold. Local and foreign journalists, politicians, diplomats and cultural observers who didn’t agree with Soeharto’s authorities, attended the gathering. As a Chief Presidium of AJI, I was honored to give a speech at that event before the speech of opposes.

Thursday evening, on the eve of ending event, about 09:00 p.m, a strange gang attended the gathering using pink shirts and black trousers with military style hair cut. My heart sang to feel frighten. Something bad would happen. A moment before, one of our guests, Marsilam Simanjuntak – who was a Minister of State Secretary under President Abdurrahman Wahid alias Gus Dur’s authority – has warned, “You will be arrested after this event!” and it was proven.

Eight people tried to stand around me. One of them was a woman called Captain Police Sundari. I was afraid and I held Liston P. Siregar’s hands, a journalist who was the Master of Ceremony at that event. Four people came when I went down by a lift. I quickly left and went down to the emergency stairs. They followed me. Soon I arrived at the lobby, tens of people surrounded and immediately held my arms to carry me out of the hotel. I saw one of government oppose politicians, Sri Bintang Pamungkas, was interviewed outside the hotel. I held his hands by reflect.
Bintang was shocked, “What’s going on?” he screamed.

“Don’t speak! Just follow us!” said the police.

A Toyota black car quickly moved back. Liston, Sri Bintang, and I were pushed into the car by force. The black car went fast from the hotel. The driver, Captain Indra Pramugari, took us without telling the direction. Apparently, we were taken into the Regional Police Station. We were brought into a room without any arrested reason. I thought it was a meeting room, because I saw Jakarta crimes map written on a board. We were locked up in that room without notification and they took our ID card. A law level police gave us three cups of tea and then we were left behind.

They left us almost two hours. Bintang claimed that he was intellectually offended and he looked for an exit way. Apparently the door wasn’t locked, “Come on, we can go off,” he said.

We walked off the room and found the post guard. We asked for the police who took our ID card, “Where’s Mr. Ferry?” I asked.

“He’s not here,” answered the police guard.

“Tell him that we are going out for a moment, ok,” Bintang convinced.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel by taxi. Bintang and Liston’s cars were still parked in front of Wisata Hotel. I went with Liston’s car, while Bintang went back alone with his car. Liston picked me up to our office in Tebet. I heard that police have messed up AJI office and two of my colleagues, Eko “Item” Maryadi and Danang Kukuh Wardoyo, were also arrested and still stayed in Police Station. In the exhausted night, I went home remembering of my baby. My friend ever teased me by his Kijang car in front of the office, “You are under arrest!” he said.


In other place, at AJI office in Tanah Abang apartment, my friend Eko “Item” Maryadi was arrested and so did Danang, a 20 years-old-young man who worked for AJI as an office boy.


Now, back to the story at interrogation room in Polda Metrojaya.
The Chief asked Haji Mayor to write all my information. He asked about Independen bulletin and emphasized on the unlicensed issue. “This is a publication without license (SIUPP). You’re the one who publish it, aren’t you?” asked the Chief.

“No,” I answered shortly.

“Don’t lie! Your bank account was written in that bulletin,” disclosed the Chief, directly accused and concluded that I was responsible of the bulletin since my bank account was written on it.

"I don’t care. You must be the responsible person since your name is written on it!” noted the Chief full of authority.

I laughed bitterly. It’s difficult to talk with an authority person. What could I do? Whatever he said, it means he used all his power, no longer used the law or existing rules, presumption of innocence. “Whatever you said!” I shouted.

"Oh, journalist!” said the Captain surprised with my answer.

I remembered Rhoma Irama’s song and I sang loudly in front of the Chief, “Hey.. Just because you are superior.. You think you can do, as you want,” a proper dangdut song in this situation


I was then taken back to Haji Mayor’s room. I took his permission for subuh (morning) pray. I just wanted to be a bit polite, but apparently they considered, as it is my obedience. Another police prohibited, “No, you don’t have to pray!” he said.

“What? No pray? This is a human right offense, you know?” I disclosed.

"Look! The sun is rising. I don’t care. I want to pray. Come on, show me where’s the restroom?” I said out of control.

I took a wudhu and pray in Haji Mayor’s room, while other police guarded. After pray, I felt sleepy and a bit sick so I laid down on the sofa. “I feel so weak Sir, I want to sleep,” I said to Haji Mayor.

"Don’t sleep, I want to ask you some questions,” said Haji Mayor keeping me from falling asleep.

"But I’m so sleepy. It’s useful,” I noted and then slept on the sofa.

After I woke up, I investigated until midnight. It was an exhausted investigation. Two investigating officers kept repeating their questions. They seemed very stupid, but may be their custom made them to use force in investigating people. But fortunately, they didn’t use force in investigating me.

The questions were repeatedly asking about who were my friends and who were the people behind Independen publication, and I kept telling the names written on the bulletin. They were upset of my answer. They gave me a cup of coffee during the investigation and when it was empty, they gave again until 15 cups of coffee in a day.

Another way of making me feel inconvenience was by forcing me to eat instant noodle with hot chili sauce. “Come on, eat! You’ll be sick if you don’t eat and you’ll say that we didn’t give you any food during investigation,” said the police.

It made me suffer from stomach disorder, but the interrogation kept on going.
One of the investigators suggested taking me to another post unit because he kept receiving unsatisfied answer, “Take him to the murder and kidnap unit,” he said.

The murder and kidnap unit is one of a section unit in the police station that is related to murder and kidnap crime. I was brought to another room, entering a darker in a hidden corridor.

I was afraid of entering the dark room, where three men with terrifying face, big black and unfriendly intimidated me. “Well.. well.. here comes our dinner,” they said.

They told me to sit on a wood chair in front of their table. I imagined the crime stories about torturing on interrogation, where they could be pressed my fingernails or even a chair could hit my back. It was my horrifying mind, but fortunately it was not happened to me.

I was forced to tell my friend’s name of the Independen publication. I kept defending on and not answering their questions, so they put a gun against my head and ready to pull the trigger, “Come on, admit it!” he said intimidate.

I was not showed any fear – although I was afraid – I even challenged. “I don’t know, shoot me!” But the gun never exploded against my head.

He just intimidated me.


They didn’t succeed to get my information for almost 24 hours investigation. Half an hour before midnight, I was brought to a detention room underground. They told me to take off my jacket, shoes, shirts, and trouser, and then they brought me to the detention guard. They also took my wallet and opened it. There were four notes twenty thousands rupiah and three notes of one thousands rupiah, means there were eighty-three thousands rupiah in my wallet. Two Sergeants forced me to take off my trouser because I was not allowed to wear it in a detention room and I had to wear a short pant."I am afraid you’re going to use it for suicide because it happened once,” said the police tried to intimidate.

He told me to wear a dirty short pant that piled up in the corner of the investigation room. “No, I’m afraid of mangy,” I refused.

"Ok, but you have to wear a short pant. This is a razor, but don’t use it for suicide ok,” disclosed the police.

He gave me the razor and I cut my trouser below my knees. The Sergeant tried to intimidate once more about the terrifying stories of the prisoners who were mixed each other. "And.. this is your money, we’ll keep it ok. You’re not allowed to have money in the cell because it’s going to be stolen,” he noted.

In my lifetime, I had never been a prisoner although I used to visit prison many times, but it was only for interview. I negotiated to have a better place in order not to be mixed by other prisoners. “Ok, but you have to give them money. It’s for security,” said the police quickly.

In fact, his promise was never been fulfilled, although they had received the money. I kept brought to the relocation room. “Stay here. Other places are full,” said the police who received my money.

I was very afraid when I enter a dark corridor through the iron bars; the prisoner cells. I imagined like I was in a film, there were hundreds of prisoners shouted, as they wanted to eat us, like Dr. Hanibal Lecter in the Silence of The Lamb. But fortunately it wasn’t happened to me.

I entered A-13 room, which was dark with a bad smell. There were 18 prisoners laid disorderly on the plywood floor. Some of them had bump faces, blue eyes, and there was a man who only wore short pant, his name is Oman. I directly shook all the prisoners hands in A-13 cell before I walked to the corner of the room. “Sorry, I’m so sleepy. I want to sleep,” I said while sitting in the corner.

I saw the prisoners slept on the plywood crowdedly mixed by their criminal sections and also the bad smell. “Yes, go ahead. You can stay here, the smell is bad there.” said one of the prisoners whom I later knew that he was a street murderer from Pasar Minggu. I was then slept on the plywood together with murderers, burglars, drunker, cheaters, dope peddlers, and other criminals, whom I thought that they were kinder than the police.

The police, who had already received my money and promise me to give a better place, was only said, “Hey! I leave him here, ok?” he said and quickly went. His Handy Talky rang out “kreek…kreek…is Kijang already in the cell?”

"Huh, field mouse!" Oman shouted.

"Who said that?!" shouted the police back to the cell.

“Me! So what?” said Oman with angry eyes.

The police only stared at him and went out. A mouse is a police nickname given from the criminals.


In the beginning of our detention, our family and friends still didn’t get any news and information about us. No one could come and visit us. Even the lawyer, whom my friend’s prepared, also didn’t get any information where we were. All the police include the superiors, answered that they didn’t know about us. Lately, after mass media made a big fuss over our lost, Polda Metrojaya held a formal press conference. Head of Detective Directorate of Polda Metrojaya, Colonel (Police) Nurfaizi, and Head of Information Official of Polda Metrojaya, Colonel Lieutenant (Police) Bambang Haryoko stated that they have already arrested three AJI activists.

According to the police, we were arrested because we had published Independen bulletin without press publication license issued by the government. The police also were still examining whether the issues were insulted, backed bite, denigrated, or stated a feud on Indonesian government.

The police statement was lately proven. After police detention for almost two months (58 days) - normally the police detention limit was only 60 days otherwise should be free from punishment that was the rule - I moved to Salemba prison, in Central Jakarta.

We started a new life, prison and wait for trial court session. Waiting for administration, one of jailers told us to cower together with the other prisoners. Like the others criminals, we had to take off our shirt, being bare breasted, and when it was my turn, one of the jailers snapped, “Any tattoo?”

“No, Sir,” I answered

“Oh, don’t lie! Open your trouser!” he exclaimed

The official tried to force but I defended not to open my trouser. Tattoo is a sign for prisoners. According to the jailer, if I had a tattoo it means I am a recidivist, in other word I had done something criminal and ever been arrested before.

Finally I got a room with 1 x 1.5 meters in Blok K, under murderer and gambler supervision. I was under his “protection” and I didn’t have to pay like the other criminals and not being annoyed by others.

At first, started from 06:00 p.m my room locked from outside, and opened at 06:00 a.m. All the night activities, from eating to pass water, were only in a room. We usually prepare plastic and empty bottle to pass water because there wasn’t any toilet. But, after several months, I was allowed to lock my room with my own padlock.

I was just like being back as a human, because I could went to the toilet at night. Although I didn’t know more about prison life, I could see that there were senior prisoners who did sodomy to the new prisoner who was younger or joined ecstasy party with other prisoners who were also had a same freedom in our block.

In the prison, we saw many free lives. There was an ecstasy production in side the room, heroin party, sex, ball gamble (Italy and England league), Chinese gamble, card gamble and others. People who have money could do all the things. The jailers were very corrupt, so it could happen inside the prison and even the gambler or heroin gambler operated inside the prison.

Despite amateur criminal, pickpocket, heroin courier and gambler, torturer, murderer, death driver, I also made friend with corruptor, ex Director of a State Bank who was corrupted. In the prison we were all “friends” although remains to keep careful because may be “a friend can hit his own friend”, that’s why I always lock my door when I sleep.

I kept working in a prison; my fee as journalist in prison was much bigger than while I was outside the prison. I got many order from my friends in mass media to interview criminals who were untouchable outside. In contrast, I often offered my friends, who came to visit, for interviewing a resource person in prison. Some of the prisoners also requested my law advice in facing the attorney and juror in their trial. I helped some of them to make pleidoi (leg. Defense) since I had a law degree. One of heroin criminals, for example, could be free from punishment because he followed my advice in facing the trial.


After several months stayed in Salemba prison, I began the court session. In the first court, a detention car guarded by a police patrol car took my friend “Item” in one lawsuit, and me. We were just like a president or minister, because military police to avoid the traffic guarded us.

In the court, the attorney charged me of doing a crime as it was written in article 154 of Criminal Code, namely spreading out detestation and enmity to the government by publishing Independen without government permission (SIUPP). The writings in Independen, which complained, were for example about the issues of cabinet disunity and the issues of the Minister of Information who “pressed” mass media by getting the shares without paying any mass media companies.

It was a very noisy court, because it was full of activists, journalists, and also foreign diplomats and government intelligences attended the District Court of Central Jakarta.

At the end of the exhausted court, the juror verdict of prisoner for 2 years and 8 months according to the above attorney’s charged, that was the article of spreading detestation and enmity to government (In Dutch we say hatzaai artikelen). It was the inheritance law from Dutch colonial that has completely removed, because the article used to stop and limit activist movement who were against the authority of Dutch King/Queen. The Dutch used this law in Indonesia to frighten Indonesian patriots when they colonized us. At that time, Soekarno was punished with that article and so did Tirto Adi Soerjo, a journalist who bear his arms against Dutch authority by writings the issues of the movements against colonies.

I appealed to a higher court upon the juror decision. Several months later, Jakarta District Court verdict my prisoner punishment for 3 years. I again appealed cassation to the Supreme Court. The Juror corroborated the District Court case law for doing 3 years in prison. I lived for one year in Salemba Prison with happiness and sorrow and then I moved to Cipinang Prison, East Jakarta.


Lembaga Permasyarakatan Cipinang or Cipinang Prison has filed many many famous names, namely the number one murderer, famous corruptor, heroin criminals, activists, politicians of the 1965 Indonesian Communist Parties (PKI), and Indonesian enemies from Papua and East Timor. Of course, there were also common prisoners or convicted criminals.

In entering this prison, the jail administrator checked more intensive. I was forced to be naked by the investigation jailer, whereas other prisoners saved my luggage and laptop to be placed in my next room. Despite the naked force incident, there was no special incident in that investigation. I was placed in politic prisoners block in a room of 3 x 5 meters with five people, four of them were anti Soeharto activists, and one prisoner convicted common crime.

Some of our room neighbors were politicians who were involved in 1965 movement of a coup d’etat, namely Ground Forces Colonel Latief, Major Sergeant of Air Force Marsudi, Boengkoes, and ideologist of Indonesian Comunist Parties (PKI) who began to senile, Asep Suryaman alias Hamim, the ex leader of Pemuda Rakyat (a youth organization under PKI).

In other block, which was called BM, I found Xanana Gusmao (the insurgent and patriots of East Timor) who was finally became the first President of Timor Leste after Soeharto descend. I also met some of East Timor patriots, Fernando Lasama (the president candidate and also a parliament member) and the others.

At the same time, one of the biggest corruptors who took IDR 1.3 trillion, Eddy Tanzil, ran away from the prison. According to one prisoner who told me while we were together in toilet in one afternoon, the jailer escaped Eddy Tanzil, “I know it. It has happened since Saturday, two days ago,” he whispered. My reportage result about the “runaway” Eddy Tanzil from the prison published in Media Indonesia on Sunday edition, the last place I worked before being arrested.

In Cipinang, I also talked to Colonel Latief and politician of PKI about the blood incident on October 1, 1965, and I talked also with Xanana whom we can say untouchable by mass media. We played ball together and talked along the fishpond, because he didn’t want our meeting noticed by any jailer. We used to talk and interview in many hidden chances after playing a ball and I spread out the interview result through Internet.

The escape of Xanana interview from the prison has made the superiors angry. They became strict and carefully inspected when my family visit the prison. But the interview kept on going. I put it inside my baby “Ali Anzi” pants. Xanana is a child lover; he carries my baby every time it comes. Xanana called my baby “Kelly Kwalik” – a name of one patriot from Papua Independent Organization. Strange! May be his pronunciation was not used to call Ali Anzi, I didn’t know.

Politic situation was more critical. All information from the Cipinang prison were spread out through Internet and published in foreign mass media. The record could be heard from BBC London or Voice of America (VOA). Of course, it made the arbiters angrier and so did prison head. One day at midnight, before the commemoration of the independence day of the Republic Indonesia, while we were sleeping, we heard the iron bars in my room opened “klotak”.

Five jailers with weapons came, “Wake up! Quick!” they screamed.

I didn’t have time to wash my face or even changed my cloth. Under their weapons, I brought to the jail administration post. Once again, I forced to be naked and wore blue color prison uniform. My right hand was handcuff together with a police murderer who was punished for 10 years, and then we were gathered in 10 handcuff’s couple and pushed into a musty detention car. We didn’t know what would happen to us.

In the darkest night, I saw other atmosphere outside through the car’s window. I saw hardwood trees outside along the way. I asked myself, where did they take me? I imagined what I have seen in films and stories about government regime finished off the insurgents. May be we would be taken into the forest, being inline and then shoot. DOR! DOR! we died and then the shooter buried us without any sign. Who knows?

Fortunately, my terrifying imaginations were never proven. After more than seven hours, the car stopped in front of a gate, Lapas Class 1 Kesambi, Cirebon. The car entered the gate and passed two big doors. We got out from the car with all the bad smells, because some other prisoners threw their bowels in the car along the way to Cirebon. No choice.

We were separated each other and locked up in a special room with double dir. Usually, this place is known for a death punishment waiting for the execution. We were locked in that room for two weeks without any chances to go.

After two weeks, we pushed into a detention room mixed with twenty prisoners from Cipinang. We exercise and take breakfast every morning. Cirebon Prison, West Java, is known as limbo prisoners from Sumatera and Jakarta who were punished for more than 15 years. The prisoners, who stayed here, were mostly related to the murderer and heroin cases.

There were interesting stories when I stayed together with criminals in one room, but sometimes also made me upset, because they often got quarrel with small stuff. After more than one month living in temporary room, I finally got my own room with 1 x 1,5 meter without toilet. Again, I was locked from 06:00 pm to 06.00 am.

Even though the prison was far away from Jakarta, I still could write and report to media in Jakarta. I wrote about riot in Cirebon prison, and then about life story of Chinese from Ipoh, Malaysia who was punished to death because of the heroin case. I sent my writings through one of security jailers and I gave him extra tip.

Unfortunately, the head of prison read the writings and he was angry to me but he couldn’t take any action. He started to limit and watch my action. There was a sad situation, when my father died in Jakarta; I couldn’t leave the prison to visit him for the last time. Actually, there was a rule to permit a prisoner to go out from the prison with a police guard for two days (2 x 24 hours) to visit his family who died. Although I got permission from the Director General of Prison in Jakarta, the head of Cirebon Prison still didn’t give permission. “I have the power here, not Jakarta. You are a danger prisoner with politic case and you are under my responsibility,” said Zakaria, the chief of Kesambi Cirebon Prison.

What could I do? I didn’t have any power.

Other jailers who didn’t like the chief benefited my cold war with the head of prison. I should have finished my time in LP Cirebon but I finally moved again to a smaller prison, LP class II, in Kuningan, West Java, about 60 kilometers from Cirebon.

I kept writing about the interesting prisoners stories to be published in Jakarta. I also sent my poem to local radio and heard it with other prisoners. We also sent poem each other to prisoners in Kuningan and Cirebon through the radio. I even helped one jailer to finish his bachelor thesis, started from his research until his final writing.

After five months living in Kuningan prison, I finally free with conditional release. It means, I had to report to the jailer in Jakarta once a week. I did a stretch for 2 years and 7 month, which started from the beginning of my detention until I stated to be free.


The hassle kept going on. Several months later, in October 1997, I was invited to attend a meeting in Vancouver, Canada although I was still in conditional release. It was at the same time with the APEC meeting, which was attended by President Soeharto. Despite attending the activists’ summit, I received Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in Vancouver, a non-profit institution located in New York, United States. I should have taken that Nobel in 1995, but because I was in a prison at that time, I received it in 1997.
In Vancouver, with other activists in a hotel room, I arranged anti Soeharto demonstration. Two Indonesian intelligences, with the information given from all my friends in Indonesia, were arrested while they were spying student actions in University of British Colombia - Vancouver. Indonesian government was angry about the anti Soeharto demonstration in Canada. The Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affair, Ali Alatas, threatened the anti Soeharto activists to be arrested when they arrived in Indonesia for their involvement in such demonstration, as Sri Bintang Pamungkas did with his friends in Dresden - Germany in 1996.

The action of anti Soeharto has spread out and even had a headline from mass media in Vancouver. The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affair offered an asylum if the activists and I wanted to go back to Indonesia, because he was afraid we were being arrested or murdered. However, we refused the offer, “Precisely, our fight is started in Indonesia,” I answered.

I also wrote an article for mass media in United States with title “The Last APEC for Soeharto” and it was proven. In 1998 Soeharto descended from his power as a President and no longer attended the national leader meeting of APEC.


Soeharto failed, TEMPO magazine published again on Octover 1, 1998. I went back to work for TEMPO. I with my team took part to crack corruption cases, which was done by Akbar Tandjung, the Leader of Golkar Party (The Rulling Party), and so did the ex Minister of State Secretary who was ever on trial, although he was finally free in the supreme court.

Soeharto was no longer in power, and pres became more independent. But now, the danger is coming from the private and black businessmen.

The incident happened on Saturday, 8 March 2003. A group of people who worked for Tomy Winata, a gambler who owned illegal businesses, mobilized the mass, terrorized, and did crime action. Tomy is also known familiar with military and police authority. The incident happened because I wrote a tragedy behind conflagration in a market, which was Tanah Abang Market. I found a market development and renovation plan proposal before the market fired. It made Tomy Winata angry and his crew attacked our office.

On Saturday, March 8, 2003 around 10 o’clock in the morning, I attended a married ceremony that was also attended by Vice President |Hamzah Haz in Condet, East Jakarta. A friend called me, “Hey, Tomy is angry with TEMPO about Tanah Abang news.”

“Oh, ok thanks,” I said and told him about summation and Desmon Press conference for today (Saturday/11/03).

A short time later, an editorial secretary called me. “Pik, please come to office immediately. No one here, but the police has already stayed in front of the office. They said that Tomy Winata’s partisan would attack TEMPO.”

The married ceremony was totally unfinished; I went back home quickly after eating Arabian rice. I walked and searched for taxi on Jl. Raya Condet, it was too difficult because of the heavy traffic. Finally, after walking for 15 minutes, I saw an empty Blue Bird taxi; I gave a sign to the driver to turn back direction.

I finally went to my office by taxi. I saw 2 police trucks guarded in front of TEMPO gate for security. I went up to the 3rd floor to check e-mail, while several times looked outside the window above the car park. 15 minutes later, I saw a group of people, (may be about 100 people) joggled the gate of TEMPO with ill-fated face. They also screamed to shut down TEMPO, take out the license, fire, arrest, etc. I went down to the first floor and brought Tomy Winata’s power of attorney and summation sent by Desmon. I was on the back of police and looked around the demonstration, I felt in common although they were shouting. I told to one of the police (I remember his face if I saw him), “I need 2 or 5 delegations to enter our office”

But the police said, “No, you go there and give them explanation.”

Finally by saying bismilllah, I went to the gate, I thought I would be saved because the police were more than the protesters (but later I realized that all the police stayed behind the gate, inside TEMPO). In front of the mass, I said, “I’m now the responsible of this office. I’m going to explain to all of you,” I said while showing Tomy Winata’s power of attorney and Desmon Summation.

However, I was pulled away, there were 4 people who pulled me into the middle of the mass, one man who stood near the gate pulled my collar (the thin man with long hair and kept following stayed until I went to the police resort station). I was pulled in front of the gate and no one helped, I said to the police, “Open the gate! Help me!” But the gate was not open (may be the police had another reason, they were afraid the mass will enter the office).

I was really afraid, my white rimless cap, which I borrowed from my brother in law and I wore it since the marriage ceremony, taken out from my head, I didn’t know who took it. I saw a small door alongside the gate opened; it was only 1.5 meter from me. I struggled from the mass and ran away dragging my feet. (Alhamdulillah I was hopeless but God saved me). My hand was drawn in blood, I didn’t know why. I failed in front of the, two police with their stick tried to hit me. The stick was already swayed, but it was detained in a short time, I heard someone said he said “Don’t do it!” and the police made apologize at a glance, “Sorry, I think you’re demonstrant,” he said.

I wasn’t hearing what he said because my mind began to chaos. I remembered some of TEMPO friend only took a look from the window on the 3rd floor and some of them were inside the gate.

I talked to another police (not the one who forced me to face the mass), I request the protester’s delegation for 2 to 5 people only, and I would accept them, heard their complaint and gave explanation. I brought them to the 3rd floor. One of them (his name is Guntur Medan), said tired of going upstairs. I said, “Yes, it is different than Tomy Winata’s office, which uses lift to go up.” I took them to the meeting room on the 3rd floor that was still locked, but in 2 minutes, one of TEMPO’s employees opened the meeting room. I offered a drink, tea or coffee for the sake of courtesy, but they refused. I confused, the demonstrant were not only 5 as I requested, but there were tens. I looked at the police (I remembered his face) and told them to enter.

I asked who were them why they were so many. I worried the office would be messed up, or they might stole the equipments, because I didn’t know exactly who came. “Oh, they are journalist,” answered the police. Apparently, there were demonstrant and police in the meeting room. Abdul Manan accompanied me, he sat on my left with one of TEMPO’s general affair staff and later I also saw someone from English TEMPO. Some of my friends were outside the meeting room.

I asked what they were complaining. I introduced them my name, and I told that I was responsible person at that time because it was on Saturday and no one in the office. Someone named Yosep, intimidated that there were no one or the employees was off because they knew that protester would come. I told that day was Saturday and usually there were only the post guard and people who were not finished their writings. Finally, the unused debate finished. Someone named Teddy Uban - a man with white hair – (the “right hand” of Tomy Winata), talked angrily that because TEMPO wrote something incorrect, Bank Artha Graha at Jl. Jayakarta were thrown by the eggs. “Mr. Tomy also threatened. Even I heard the news that on Monday, a number of vendors who were the victim fired at Pasar Tanah Abang will attack Artha Graha office in Jl. Jend Sudirman. If you don’t believe, I call Kapolda (The Chief of Regional Police), do you want me to call him?” said Teddy.

“Yes please,” I said.

He tried to call, I didn’t know if he was really called Kapolda or only intimidating.

“He is in a meeting, cannot be disturbed,” Teddy said.

A number of Tomy’s participant in the meeting room screamed, answered back and forth.

“Enough!” I said, “I will explain the problem. I accepted summation from Mr. Tomy through his attorney, Desmon, and even today there will be a press conference. We accept your complaint and we also were trying to meet Mr. Tomy, may be on Monday, now Mr. Tomy is in Kendari. I accept your complaint.”

I haven’t finished talking, Teddy answered, “Hey, You are the writer. We want your informant. Tell me now! Show that you will be saved and we will save it.”

I said, “There is a process in this summation,” showing the summation, “Whatever the procedure, the wrong person will not directly enter the jail, but started from the police and process and then to the attorney, then trial, then jail.”

“Oh, Shit Journalist! You write and after that you came to my boss for money. Shit! “ said Teddy. He walked around the table, no more sat.

“Hey… don’t say that! This is humiliating! Where is the evidence? TEMPO is not like what you’ve said,” I answered.

“Hey… shut up! You’re bullshit!” he said with emotion and took a wood box tissue on the table then thrown to my head, I repulsed and it attacked my friend, Abdul Manan, who were on my left, hit exactly in the midlle of his eyes and nose. He was bleeding and one of General Affair staffs took betadine (iodine) to the injured, my hand also became much more bleeding after I repulsed the attack and I gave code with my finger requesting for betadine.

“Hey… Why they use force in my office?” I asked to the police who was silent stood on my right.

I directly called Bambang Hary Murti, “Ok, I’ll call my bos.”

“Call him to come here quickly!” said Teddy with a loud voice.

Yosep interrupted, “You know that our boss is in Kendari. It means, you follow wherever our boss goes, right?”

The conflict became bigger because many people talked dominated by Teddy, Yosep who under pressed to us, and the other were answering back and forth.

I called Bambang Hary Murti to his old first number I had, and then I called back again and said that I couldn’t overcome the situation. I got out of the meeting room and met the Kapolsek Menteng (The Chief of Sector Police in Menteng). I asked, “So, what should we do Mr. Kapolsek?”

“How? Just solve it! That’s your problem,” said Kapolsek Menteng.

Teddy called someone, “I found the writer, what should I do to him?” he asked.

In a short time, a white man wearing blue jeans went upstairs. His name is David alias A Miauw (Also known as the “right hand” of Tomy Winata). He was talking out of control and angry, he requested the news informant to be present in front of him immediately. Moreover, he told about racist, “Don’t say that because Tomy Winata is Chinese. I am also Chinese. I have discotheque and gambler, and then you think that you can write what you want.”

“It’s not true Mr. David,” I said, “We are pluralist here. We are not ethnic prejudice.”

“Bullshit! You twist someone’s words,” he answered sarcastically, and I looked at his eyes “Hey, don’t stared at me like that! If you say something, I’m going to kill you now!” David exclaimed emotionally.

A Flores guy also took a chair and tried to hit my face. It was already swayed and another Flores guy wearing dark blue safari costume with red color of PMD embroidered on his chest also came closer to me tried to hit, but I didn’t know exactly why they suddenly canceled their intention to hit me.

Karaniya (he was also Chinese) entered, I thank God, because David has already used racist expression. Karaniya took over the situation. All Karaniya’s explanation also didn’t noticed, and David shouted again, “You’re talking bullshit! I blow you die!”

My head bent over in faint, as a human I admitted that I’m afraid and being under pressure at that time. I just called back Bambang Hary Murti, he was on the way near BNI 46, Sudirman. David was impatient and pointed me to be arrested and brought to the police station, “I found the writer. He’s responsible. Took him!” said David.

Kapolsek Menteng also pressed me to solve the problem. I said, “Wait for my boss, Bambang Hary Murti, he’s coming at last for 10 minutes.” I entered the room. David went out to call someone. I tried to release the situation. I threw my arms around Yosep, a man with safari costume from NTT (West Timor). I asked, “Where are you from? Flores? Wow, we’re from the same place. My father is from Waingapu,”

“Oh, so we are from the same village. Thanks God I didn’t hit you,” said Yosep, “Why did you face the mass? Thanks God you’re saved.”

I said, “I braved because I thought all are from Flores, so I will be saved,” We were talking in courtesy, Yosep pressed me, “Just say who’s the informant. Come on, you’ll be saved. I guarantee. Don’t be afraid,” he persuaded.

I just smiled.

I got out of the room, in a short time later Bambang Hary Murti came and took over the responsibility to face the people who talked boastfully and threatened will kill, and fired this office, and they even said that TEMPO is small cases that can be bought by Tomy. They also called and restrained the mass outside the office to keep pressure.

Arrogantly, David told also about bomb in Bali, “Do you know who give information about bomb in Bali for the first time to Kapolri (the Chief of Police of the Republic of Indonesia)? It’s me. I already know before him.”

He also told about the fire in Tanah Abang. “What do you know about the fire in Tanah Abang? I know the first point of fire and why the fire department couldn’t enter the market. So, don’t wind up in trouble about it,” said David. What does he mean?

Finally, we went the police station in order to calm the mass in front off the office. Bambang Hary Murti requested for security guarantee and police barricade inside the office. It was raining outside. BHM got into the Timor car owned by police and tried to prepare the place for both of Karaniya and me.
But I was restrained by David not to get into the police car. I started to worry to be abducted and brought to other place. I kept hold tight Karaniya. We were pushed into a black Land Cruiser car owned by Artha Graha (it is seen from the ID sign in the right corner near the driver). There was already Tomy Winata’s crew inside the car, who pulled me in the middle of the mass in front off the office. Karaniya took one police, Dadang, to follow get into the car. That car was too full. Finally, the four of us, on my left was Haris Sumbi, a guy from Ambon who lived in Bendungan Hilir, I remembered because I ever met him for several times at Retro, Hotel Crown in front of Polta Metrojaya. Karaniya and Dadang were on my right. David and the driver sat in front of the car. Three people from Artha Graha and Yosep - a long hair cut and thin man, who pulled my collar in front off other mass – sat on the back of the car.

Finally, we were brought with the car serine’s sounds.
David called someone, “Seal that office! Don’t let any of TEMPO employee come out after this problem solved. Understand?” I don’t know whom he was calling to. Thanks God, we were brought to Central Jakarta Resort Police (Polres), not to other places.
Did we save in Polres office? Not yet. David said angrily to Yosep, “You know, I fired you! He is from Flores, you should have to killed him for the first time.”

Since then, Yosep face was no longer friendly and became pressured. He was the one hit Bambang Hary Murti’s face on the back of police station. “Buk!” It was hard until his glasses fall down. David, Teddy, and other man also shouted and pushed Bambang Hary Murti in front of Central Jakarta Resort Police Station.

I, Bambang Hary Murti, and Karaniya brought to the room of Unit Commander of Central Jakarta Resort Police (Kasat Serse Polres Jak-Pus) A.D. Yoyol. About 5 police (some with wearing civies) entered the room together with David, Teddy, Haris Sumbi, and other 5 David’s crew. David emphasizing that Bambang Hary Murti, as a leader and responsible, had to be killed. “I shoot you now! If I’m jailed and killed here, I’m not afraid. Give me a gun!” exclaimed David.

He kept shouting and pointed to Bambang Hary Murti and me. “You are smart people. I’m not, even I didn’t finished my elementary school, but I hold two gamblers in Harco Mangga Dua and survive 800 people. I pay them 50,000 IDR every day, can you?”
Bambang Hary Murti tried to answer David accusation, which didn’t make sense and has no basis whatever, and told the way of the existing procedural to solve the problem. Some of police also were in that room with Tomy Winata’s crew. From TEMPO, there were only Bambang Hary Murti, Karaniya, and I. David was in emotion and hit BHM stomach, kicked and hit his head, “This is for the most clever bald man!”

Karaniya was angry and protested on that humiliating action, but he also hit on the left face. It was hard and I only silent. I saw that David was not normal; because he was insulting many people include the police and army. “Enough! I paid all the police. I also buy for the lamp here, and I pay journalist 150,000 each month and I had the list of them. I also made Sutiyoso became a Governor, otherwise he couldn’t. You’re nothing! Don’t do all sort of things. This problem will be solved if Ciputra met my boss, Tomy Winata. Call him!” said David.

“Oh, I don’t have his number since my mobile was gone,” said Bambang Hary Murti.

“Ok, stupid leader. I’ll call him,” David said. He made a call.

“Hallo, someone wants to talk to you!” David gave the phone to Bambang Hary Murti.

Bambang Hary Murti talked to Ciputra, but only give information. Bambang Hary Murti said that Ciputra didn’t know about editor, “I just commissioner, you’re the one who handle it.”

The situation became more unstable, I, Bambang Hary Murti and Karaniya couldn’t say something to defend. Police just watched us without preventing all brutality. Later, Kasat Serse Yoyol came in, but David was still impolite with the police, and even he was underestimate, but the police accept it. This is ironic, even the law doesn’t exist in the police station.

In a short time later, David said, “Now, outside the news is spreading out that you’ve been kidnapped and arrested, but in fact you’re here to solve the problem, right?” asked David.

We were emphasized to talk to the other to agree and talk to press that we were not arrested, no violence, no beating. Fortunately, many journalists followed us to Police Station, so the pressure was subsided. We did press conference in data room in Polres, Bambang Hary Murti and someone called Habib Hamid Alhamid did it. Habib is a man from Ambon, who admits having group of Koran readers brought 50 masses with 2 small buses (metro mini) and worked for Tomy Winata.

When we were inside the room for press conference, we actually still being under pressure because Tomy Winata’s crew still stayed in front off the press conference room. Bambang Hary Murti answered diplomatically, avoiding direct answer. It was normal because we were hopeless, in the police station Tomy Winata’s crew can do whatever they want. Who can guarantee, regarding the office was still sealed and guarded by that people.

I remained silent and heard David arrogantly said, threatened, and insulted to journalist and police. It kept going on when we moved to Kapolres Jakpus room and Kapolres AKBP Sukrawarhi Dahlan came, who also couldn’t do much to calm the situation. Teddy Uban called Kapolda through his mobile and he gave to Kapolres after connected. I heard Kapolres talked, “Yes, General. Yes, General.” Afterwards, he told to Bambang Hary Murti, “This is superior case. Right now Kapolda is talking about my destiny to Kapolri.” Then he gave us advice; even Kapolres tends to push TEMPO to make apologize letter for Tomy Winata because of writing fictive news. But Bambang Hary Murti defended and didn’t want to make it.

Finally we did the statement, which was concepted by Karaniya and Haris Sumbi (from Tomy Winata side) in other room. Either David alias A Miauw and Kapolres requested that TEMPO should stated that all the problems had already finished and again emphasized for making an apologize letter. But Bambang Hary Murti didn’t notice and finally that statement has done, to give the problems to law. In that statement, David alias A Miaw stated as TOMY WINATA REPRESENTATIVE. We were got out off the Kapolres room and shook hand for courtesy. In fact, the problem was unsolved. Why the brutality can happen even in the police station? I was hopeless.

I worried of the journalist critics will be pawned by the fear and terror. It was only facing Tomy Winata, who has share in Hotel Borobudur, Artha Graha Group, a number of club and gamblers. May be the bigger pressure will continue going on from other people who has political power, has money, has weapon, has authority to arrest, abduct, killed and has mass. This problem should be clearly stopped. I requested David, Teddy, Yosep, Hamid Al Hamid and friends to process it fairly by the law according to what they did in this terror. Also Tomy Winata should give his responsibility. Otherwise, this incident can happened to everyone and every institution. This situation can be happened the same as we were in Soeharto period (new order) or even worse like what it happened in Columbia, Latin America, when cartel mafia of prohibit tools power the country. I didn’t know, what should I do?


Despite treating sarcastically, I also reported to the police by accusation of aspersion and made situation chaos. In the court, Tomy Winata didn’t admit his voice even there was a proven record. In the noisy court, the juror convicted me to be wrong, but because the responsibility was in the editor chief, I was free from that responsibility. The juror stated that I was free from indictment (in Dutch we say onslag van alle recht vervolging). The National Court of Central Jakarta, verdict one year prison for Bambang Hary Murti.

Bambang appealed to a high court. In the cassation of Supreme Court, Bambang convicted to be innocence. While me, until I write this story, I still do cassation to break of the adjudication, which convicted me to be wrong. Journalist is still in deep fear until now. Who knows when it will end? (The end)

Ahmad Taufik
for Book of 15 Asian Journalists publihed by Korea

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