Letters   |   East Timor, Indonesia

Indonesia: Another journalist killed in East Timor

September 30, 1999

Mr. Ian Martin
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
UNAMET Headquarters
Mitchell Street
Darwin, Northern Territory
Australia 0810
VIA FAX: +61-88-941-8710


Mr. Martin,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns the killing of Agus Muliawan, an Indonesian journalist 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-Jakarta militia.

Muliawan, 26, had been working in Dili since February on a television documentary about Falintil, the largest 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.

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.

Since responsibility for the security of East Timor has officially been handed over to UN peacekeepers, CPJ urges protection for the many foreign and local journalists working in the area. Journalists are the international community's eyes and ears in East Timor. As Indonesian troops withdraw and militia attacks persist, it is imperative that reporters in the field be able to perform their professional duties safely.

CPJ respectfully urges UN forces in East Timor to investigate the murder of Agus Muliawan, to detain those responsible for his death, and to make every effort to ensure the safety of all journalists reporting in the area 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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Send a letter to:

Mr. Ian Martin
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
UNAMET Headquarters
Mitchell Street
Darwin, Northern Territory
Australia 0810
VIA FAX: +61-88-941-8710

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