Bina Bektiati | 1997 Courage in Journalism Award
When the magazine she worked for was banned, and its license revoked by the Suharto regime and government-controlled publication replaced it, Bektiati refused to write for it. When she found she couldn’t find a job she could work with integrity and responsibility in her home country, she left it. But she didn’t give up. She kept working diligently and looking for every opportunity to promote free speech in Indonesia.
Starting in 1991, Bektiati worked for major magazine Tempo, writing about politics. In 1994, Bina was part of the group of journalists that lost their jobs when the three major weeklies in Jakarta were banned by the government. She was offered a position to work at a magazine that was established by the government to take the place of her banned publication, Tempo, and she refused because she didn’t want to join the government sanctioned union of journalists.
Instead, she joined the wide-spread protest following the ban and took part in the creation of the Alliance for Independent Journalists (AIJ). Meantime, she joined a group of former Tempo employees who challenged the government ban to the Administrative Court – a unprecedented daring move in Indonesia media industry.
In 1995, Bektiati realized she was unable to find work in Indonesia and moved to Australia. She became a correspondent for an East Java-based newspaper. She returned to Jakarta in 1996 and joined her former colleagues at Tempo to run an online version of Tempo to get around the government’s control.
Bektiati later joined Detektif Dan Romantika (D&R), a weekly news magazine, where the editor was a former senior Tempo writer. She continued writing about politics – often under an assumed by-line – and covered the protests leading up to the fall of Suharto and installation of President Habibie in 1998.
Bektiati also helped form the Institute for the Study of Free Flow of Information (ISAI), researching and writing books on current affairs.
Bektiati, born and raised East Java province, was a graduate from the Social and Political Science Department of Airlangga University of East Java.
The new government instituted modest reforms and in late 1998, Tempo was re-established. Bektiati accordingly returned to her position with the magazine.
Bina Bektiati is the first Courage in Journalism Award winner from Indonesia.