Ban on Aceh, Timor Films Criticized

JAKARTA ~ International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has lambasted the decision of the authorities to ban four films on East Timor and Aceh from the Jakarta International Film Festival.

“The government continues to choose the outdated method of censorship, which is regrettable,” the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sate censors banned the four films from being shown at next month’s Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest) on the grounds they could “disturb security,” the festival organizers said.

RSF called on the censorship agency to “urgently review its criteria so that freedom of expression can be guaranteed.”

“The return of peace to Aceh and East Timor should allow a free and calm debate on the situation in these two regions,” said RSF.

“But the government continues to choose the outdated method of censorship, which is regrettable.”

Indonesia’s media was kept under tight control during the rule of former president Suharto, who stepped down amid mounting unrest in 1998. Since then, an independent media has flourished.

In a letter to JiFFest recently, the agency said that the films “could disturb security and order in the otherwise ‘conducive’ situation in the Aceh province and (bilateral relations with) East Timor,” said JiFFest program manager Lalu Roisamri.

The banned films on East Timor are Tales of Crocodiles from the Netherlands, Passabe from Singapore and a 12-minute animation from Portugal on East Timor’s history, titled: Timor Loro Sae.

The Black Road by American journalist William Nessen, which covers Aceh’s struggle for independence, was also banned.

The four films were also banned last year.

More than 200 films from over 35 countries are due to be screened at the 8th JiFFest, which runs from December 8 to 17.

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