Subject: ABC transcript: interview w/Alan Nairn under detention in Dili
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 09:32:48 EDT

Australian Broadcasting Corporation PM News hour Wednesday, September 15, 1999 6:30

US journalist in Dili

COMPERE: But how is the interval between UN resolution and UN action to be played out in East Timor itself? One of the few sources of information on what's been happening in the gutted East Timorese capital Dili has been an American reporter, Alan Nairn. But Nairn has just spent more than a day in detention by the Indonesian authorities.

Before he was flown out of East Timor he spoke from inside the military headquarters in Dili to Anthony Balmain of SBS radio.

ALAN NAIRN: At first soldiers picked me up off the street, just because I was a foreigner, but when they learnt who I was they said they were detaining me for being in violation of the ban. I snuck in without his knowledge. I'm still on the black list.

ANTHONY BALMAIN: And what's going to happen to you from here?

ALAN NAIRN: Well, they haven't said. I've heard conflicting stories but some of them have said that a military plane will be coming in today to fly me out, maybe to Kupang, maybe to Jakarta, and I may be thrown out of the country after that.

ANTHONY BALMAIN: And before you were detained, what did you see of the situation there on the ground in Dili?

ALAN NAIRN: Well, even while being in custody I've seen a fair amount because they've been driving me back and forth between the Korim and Polda (phonetic), and here at Korim there's a large number of Aitarak in the back of the base.

ANTHONY BALMAIN: And Korim is the military base, is that right?

ALAN NAIRN: It's the main military headquarters, so the Aitarak operates out of here in uniform and they do the same from Polda, the police headquarters. On the streets there's still very little of civilian traffic. Lots of Aitarak and military. The burning has continued, the burning of houses and offices, and central Dili is just devastated.

ANTHONY BALMAIN: So you say there are scores of militia operating out of the military headquarters. Are they actually taking orders from the military or do they happen to just be around there at the time?

ALAN NAIRN: Yes, they do take orders. They're right here on the premises. And when I noticed that when I first came in I said to one of the officers here, Lieutenant Colonel Willem, are those the Aitarak? And he said yes. This is where they live, this is where they're based.

He claimed we have them here so we can control them. And you see them going out on their motorcycles and trucks. So the Aitarak is operating out of General [inaudible] martial law headquarters. It couldn't be more clear than that.

ANTHONY BALMAIN: There's talk of a humanitarian tragedy taking place in East Timor. What do you know about that?

ALAN NAIRN: The food situation is very grave, for the refugees and the Aitarak, even for people in Dili city itself. Stores and warehouses have been burnt and looted and destroyed. It's probably worse than many other parts of the countryside.

This morning I spoke to someone from Kupang where actually food conditions for refugees are supposed to be better than they are elsewhere but even in Kupang they say there's now a shortage of clean water, and there are major problems with diarrhoea and dysentery among the children.

And in Atindua (phonetic) where there were very large numbers of refugees there are said to be horrible food shortages.

MARK COLVIN: It seems very clear that it's almost ... that it's pretty nightmarish almost everywhere. Alan Nairn, an American journalist who has now been flown out of East Timor. He was speaking there while he was still in detention earlier today to Anthony Balmain of SBS radio.


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