18 May 1999


Journalists forcibly stopped amidst reports of new East Timor killings

Incident details


(PINA/IFEX) - International journalists are again reporting that they are
being forcibly stopped from going to areas in East Timor where there are
reports of new killings by pro-Indonesian forces. On 18 May 1999, Australian
Associated Press (AAP) correspondent John Martinkus said attempts by
journalists and relief workers to reach the areas were stopped at gunpoint
by pro-Indonesian militia forces. A "Sydney Morning Herald" correspondent
quoted an Indonesian military commander, Colonel Tono Suratman, as
acknowledging that there had been an attack on villagers and saying he would
act to clear the area of militia roadblocks.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 10 May, 21 April, 20 April and 29 March 1999**

The "Sydney Morning Herald" quoted the local Foundation for Legal and Human
Rights (Yayasan-Hak) as saying that in a village called Atara: "Information
we received this morning indicates 12 corpses identified. These are people
killed in the village - shot dead. There are more than 20 other people
killed in a coffee plantation, but nobody has the courage to go in there
because the militia is still waiting." Radio Australia quoted witnesses as
saying the militia were backed by local Indonesian forces and intelligence

AAP said the area to the north of the village has been at the centre of a
large operation by the Indonesian military against pro-independence
guerrillas. It quoted Roman Catholic Church sources as reporting many bodies
found in the fields around another village after Indonesian forces, backed
by the militia, moved through the area.

Earlier, international journalists attempting to cover a renewed rampage by
pro-Indonesia militiamen in the East Timorese capital, Dili, were attacked
and threatened, the "Sydney Morning Herald" reported on 10 May.

Background Information

East Timorese are scheduled to begin voting on 8 August in a referendum on
possible independence from Indonesia, which in 1975 invaded the former
Portuguese colony of 800,000 people. Six international media workers were
killed during the invasion. Organisations such as the International
Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Australian colleagues have called for
investigations into continuing allegations they were deliberately killed by
Indonesian forces or forces under Indonesian control (see IFEX alerts).


Pacific Islands News Association
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Private Mail Bag, Suva
Fiji Islands
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Fax:+679 3317055
East Timor
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