laminator_x (laminator_x) wrote,
laminator_x
laminator_x

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Freedom of the Press

The police in Minnesota arrested Amy Goodman of Democracy Now yesterday and chargerd her first with "conspiracy to riot" and then obstruction. She was there covering the specific effort by police to target independant journalists and protest observers in the days before the convention, especially the videographers who contributed to over 400 cases where video evidence contradicted sworn police testimony against demonstrators after the NYC convention in '04.

Ms. Goodman is one of my personal heroines, and the concept of such a dedicated advocate of non-violence "conspiring to riot" is ludicrous. As for the athorities wishing to intimidate and suppress dissent among the media, they will find that Amy has been roughed up by professionals before, and has little to fear from St. Paul-grade thuggery:

From The Exception To The Rulers, by Amy Goodman

The troops marched slowly up the road, their U.S.-made M-16s in the ready position. It was November 12, 1991, a day that would forever be seared into my memory, and into history. I was in Dili, the capital of East Timor, a small island nation 300 miles north of Australia. East Timor had been brutally occupied by Indonesian troops for sixteen years, since they invaded in 1975. The Indonesian military had sealed off East Timor from the outside world and turned it into their private killing field. A third of the population -- 200,000 Timorese -- had died. It was one of the worst genocides of the late twentieth century.

I had just attended mass at the main church in Dili with Allan Nairn, journalist and activist, then writing for The New Yorker magazine. After the service, thousands marched toward the Santa Cruz cemetery to remember Sebastian Gomes, yet another young man killed by Indonesian soldiers. The people came from all over: workplaces, homes, villages, and farms. They traveled through a geography of pain: In almost every other building, Timorese had been held or tortured, disappeared or killed. Whether it was a police station or a military barracks, a hotel or an officer's house, no place was beyond reach of the terror. Not even the church was safe. It was about 8 a.m. when we reached the cemetery.

We had asked people along the way: "Why are you marching? Why are you risking your lives to do this?"

"I'm doing it for my mother," one replied. "I'm doing it for my father," said another. "I'm doing it for freedom."...

...A group of soldiers surrounded me. They started to shake my microphone in my face as if to say, This is what we don't want. Then they slammed me to the ground with their rifle butts and started to kick me with their boots. I gasped for breath. Allan threw himself on top of me to protect me from further injury.

The soldiers wielded their M-16s like baseball bats. They slammed them against Allan's head until they fractured his skull. For a moment, Allan lay in the road in spasm, covered in blood, unable to move. Suddenly, about a dozen soldiers lined up like a firing squad. They put the guns to our heads and screamed, "Politik! Politik!" They were accusing us of being involved in politics, a crime clearly punishable by death. They also demanded, "Australia? Australia?"...

...as Allan and I lay on the ground surrounded by Indonesian soldiers, we shouted, "No, we're from America!" They had stripped us of our possessions, but I still had my passport. I threw it at them. When I regained my breath, I said again, "We're from America! America!"

Finally, the soldiers lowered their guns from our heads. We think it was because we were from the same country their weapons were from. They would have to pay a price for killing us that they never had to pay for killing Timorese.

At least 271 Timorese died that day, in what became known as the Santa Cruz massacre. Indonesian troops went on killing for days. It was not even one of the larger massacres in East Timor, and it wouldn't be the last. It was simply the first to be witnessed by outsiders...

When I got to meet Amy at the National Conference on Media Reform a couple years ago, all I could say was "Thank you."

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