Letters   |   Indonesia

Indonesia: Another journalist killed in East Timor

September 30, 1999

His Excellency Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie
President, Republic of Indonesia
Office of the President
Bina Graha, Jalan Veteran No. 17
Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
VIA FAX: +62-21-778-182


Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns the recent killing of Indonesian journalist Agus Muliawan, who was among a group of nine church workers massacred on Saturday, September 25 as they traveled to Baucau from Lospalos, East Timor. The gunmen were identified in Western news reports as Indonesian troops or pro-Indonesian militia members.

The 26 year-old Muliawan is the second journalist killed in East Timor in the past ten days: Sander Thoenes, 30, a Dutch correspondent for the Financial Times,was shot outside Dili on September 21. Muliawan had been working in Dili since February on a television documentary about Falintil, the largest East Timorese guerrilla group favoring independence from Indonesia, for the Tokyo-based news agency Asia Press International. The journalist was Balinese, and had established working relationships with many Indonesian military officials.

Muliawan was traveling by van with a group that included the head of the Caritas Roman Catholic aid agency, two students from a local seminary, two nuns, two assistants to the nuns and a driver, according to Western news reports. The gunmen apparently ambushed the group after nightfall in the town of Com, as they drove from Lospalos, where they had been on a humanitarian mission, to Baucau. Seven bodies were found floating in the Raomoko River thirty-eight miles from Baucau. Two bodies were found in the van, which had been pushed into the river.

Muliawan's death came only days after the UN Human Rights Commission voted to establish an inquiry into possible atrocities committed in East Timor. Although security responsibility for East Timor has officially been handed over to UN peacekeepers, CPJ reminds your excellency that the Indonesian government is responsible for the activities of all remaining Indonesian military and paramilitary forces in East Timor as well as West Timor, where many militia groups are based and which remains under full Indonesian government control.

Indonesian troops, along with the pro-Jakarta militias that they armed and trained, are widely reported to have been involved in the many recent attacks on journalists, foreign aid workers and villagers around Dili. Last week, for example,  Sunday Timesreporter Jon Swain and Chip Hires of the Paris-based Gamma photo agency were ambushed in the eastern town of Baucau by gunmen wearing Indonesian military uniforms. The two journalists were later rescued by Australian troops.

As an organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ holds your government responsible for any attacks on journalists committed by members of Indonesian military or paramilitary forces operating in East and West Timor. CPJ respectfully urges your administration to demonstrate its commitment to press freedom by making every effort to ensure the safety of journalists reporting in East and West Timor during this volatile period.

We thank you for your attention to these urgent matters, and await your response.

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director





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His Excellency Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie
President, Republic of Indonesia
Office of the President
Bina Graha, Jalan Veteran No. 17
Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
VIA FAX: +62-21-778-182

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