|Subject: Campaign For Release of US Journalist Nairn
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 02:05:49 EDT
Multinational Monitor On-Line Dispatch September 15, 1999
A campaign is rapidly mounting in Washington, D.C. to demand the release from detention by Indonesian forces of American journalist Allan Nairn.
Nairn, who was arrested in East Timor, was the last U.S. journalist reporting from the territory. Indonesian forces have reportedly transferred him to Kupang in West Timor, a part of Indonesia.
Phones were ringing off the hook in Congressional offices today, with constituents demanding Members of Congress urge the State Department and the Indonesians to take rapid action to release Nairn immediately and guarantee his safety. And Members of Congress -- from both sides of the aisle -- were responding with fury to Nairn's enforced captivity. The New York delegation in particular, including Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Nina Lowey, were demanding rapid action. The offices of Republican Chris Smith, and Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Patrick Kennedy, had also placed repeated calls to the State Department. Numerous other senators and representatives had or are expected to demand action.
The issue of Nairn's release is heating up in the State Department, with increasingly high-ranking officials, including Assistant Secretary of State Henry Koh reportedly becoming personally involved in seeking Nairn's release. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta is increasingly besieged by calls demanding action from members of Congress, State Department staff in Washington and the large number of citizens who closely follow Nairn's reporting.
Outside of government, the highly respected Committee to Protect Journalists is championing Nairn's cause; consumer advocate Ralph Nader has called the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta demanding effective action to ensure Nairn's immediate and safe release; the Reverend Jesse Jackson was reportedly asked to intervene, perhaps by seeking to involve President Bill Clinton in the matter directly. Organizers of the effort to free Nairn also reaching out to business leaders and to the entertainment community in Hollywood.
-- Robert Weissman
Subject: CPJ: Letter to Habibie on
Committee to Protect Journalists Indonesia: American journalist detained in East Timor
September 14, 1999
His Excellency Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie President, Republic of Indonesia Office of the President Bina Graha, Jalan Veteran No. 17 Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by the Indonesian military's detention of the American journalist Allan Nairn in Dili, the capital of East Timor. Nairn has been covering East Timor for the U.S.-based Pacifica Radio program "Democracy Now!" and the political weekly The Nation.
At around 5:30 a.m. local time on the morning of September 14, Nairn was stopped by Indonesian military officers at a checkpoint in Dili, which has been almost entirely devastated by pro-Jakarta militias backed by the Indonesian military. Journalists have been targeted by the militias in what many see as an army-orchestrated campaign to prevent news of atrocities from reaching the outside world.
As a result, Nairn is one of the few journalists left in East Timor. His eyewitness accounts have recently been broadcast on CNN and National Public Radio.
Nairn, who has been able to communicate with colleagues in the U.S. through his cellular phone, says he has been interrogated by police and army officers. The latter include Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, who was put in charge of the Indonesian military operation in East Timor last week, after martial law was imposed on the territory.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ is deeply concerned about the safety of Allan Nairn, who has reported extensively on human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor. CPJ fears that his background makes him particularly vulnerable during this volatile period.
In November 1991, Nairn suffered a fractured skull when he was beaten by Indonesian soldiers while covering the army's massacre of scores of East Timorese demonstrators at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili. In November 1994, authorities prevented Nairn, who was on assignment for the American monthly magazine Vanity Fair, from going to East Timor. He was detained in West Timor and later flown to Jakarta. And in March 1998, Nairn was expelled from Indonesia after holding a press conference in which he criticized American support and training of the Indonesian military.
CPJ respectfully urges Your Excellency to use the power of your office to order Allan Nairn's immediate release from custody, and to ensure that he may report without fear for his personal safety.
CPJ appreciates Your Excellency's September 12 announcement that a multinational peacekeeping force would be welcome in East Timor. But we worry that the interim period between now and the arrival of international troops may be the most dangerous of all. We once again remind Your Excellency that on May 5 the Indonesian government signed a United Nations-brokered agreement in which it pledged to ensure a "secure environment" in East Timor, one "devoid of violence or other forms of intimidation."
We therefore ask that Your Excellency instruct police and military officers to protect journalists from harm, and to cease all harassment dor intimidation of the media in East Timor.
We thank you for your attention to these urgent matters, and await your response regarding the status of Allan Nairn.
Ann K. Cooper
Subject: FOR WEB: Morris family awaits release of
journalist jailed in E. Timor
Star Ledger News
Morris family awaits release of journalist jailed in E. Timor 09/17/99
By Mary Jo Patterson STAFF WRITER
Allan Nairn, an independent journalist and activist, was on the Indonesian Army's blacklist when he slipped into East Timor to report on breaking events.
As the country sank into crisis, with reports of killings and forced deportations, the 43-year-old former New Jersey resident refused to leave. On Monday, while walking on the street around 5:30 a.m., he was arrested and jailed.
By yesterday, Nairn -- permitted to retain his cell phone and communicate with American news outlets -- had been transferred to a detention center in Kapang, in West Timor.
In Morris County, his parents vainly awaited word that U.S. officials had arranged his safe return home. Though Nairn has said he does not believe he will be harmed, they are fearful for his safety.
"Allan has been involved in many controversial issues in developing nations, but his situation now is very fragile. His life is at risk," said his mother, Miriam Nairn. "It is a political issue. We don't want to get involved in politics. All we want is our son home. He is our only son."
Last night Nairn talked with Amy Goodman, host of the "Democracy Now" program on WBAI Pacifica radio in New York. He has been providing the station daily dispatches.
Goodman said Nairn talked about being subjected to constant interrogation about his particular brand of journalism. Nairn remained in the province after all other journalists, and international observers, left.
Asked if he were scared, she said: "I don't think anyone could not be afraid in Timor. He's also extremely angry about the fact that our country is connected to (what has happened) by the barrel of the guns, by the weapons it provided."
Nairn, who grew up in Morris Township with a sister and attended local schools, has been a crusading writer and muckraker since he was 17, said his parents, Miriam and Dean Nairn. They were very guarded about providing details of their family, and described their son and themselves as "very private people."
At age 24, Nairn authored a report for a Ralph Nader-connected public interest research group attacking the venerable Educational Testing Service in Princeton, contending its multiple-choice tests were poor predictors of college performance.
Nairn, whose base is in Manhattan and is single, has reported extensively on El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and other Third World countries for various publications, including the New Yorker and the Nation. His parents said he has won numerous journalism prizes, including the Robert Kennedy Journalism Award for an article on the 1991 massacre in East Timor.
That November, Nairn and Goodman were in the midst of a memorial procession at a cemetery in Dili, East Timor when hundreds of armed Indonesian soldiers started firing into the crowd.
When it was over, some 180 East Timorese were dead, Nairn had a fractured skull, and Goodman was bloodied. They later founded the East Timor Alert Network, an activist group.
U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), one of several officials contacted by the Nairn family, yesterday asked the U.S. Ambassador in Jakarta to secure Nairn's release.
"No response has been given to the family by the Indonesian authorities as to why Allan is being held, or when he will be released," the Senator wrote Ambassador Stapleton Roy. "The fluidity of the present situation in East Timor concerns all of us who fear for the safety and security of innocent civilians in the area."
Committee to Protect Journalists 330 7th Avenue, 12th Floor New York, NY 10001 USA email@example.com
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