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Aceh War Journalist William Nessen tours Aotearoa

Journalist William Nessen tours Aotearoa and speaks of his time 'behind the lines' in the midst of the war in Aceh

William Nessen has a unique perspective on Indonesia's latest war on Aceh. He lived on the run with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) guerrillas for 6 dangerous weeks, after the declaration of martial law on May 19, 2003. Determined to report all sides, Nessen defied the military's command to stop reporting from the GAM zones.

William will tour Aotearoa from November 24 to December 3 speaking at meetings in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Whangarei. In Auckland he will address a public meeting and show slides and video footage on Tuesday November 25 2003 ; 7-30pm St Columba Centre 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby. Wellington Wednesday November 26 Turnbull House, Bowen St and Christchurch Friday 28th November, 7.30 pm, Trade Union Centre, 199 Armagh Street.

A freelance journalist, William Nessen has reported on Aceh many times before but on this occasion he narrowly escaped with his life. The unit he was with barely managed to slip a cordon of Indonesian troops. William also risked facing espionage charges and lengthy incarceration. After intense international lobbying on his behalf William was charged with immigration irregularities and was detained for 40 days in Aceh's capital Banda Aceh.

"To understand Aceh think of East Timor" * Ongoing military brutality and lack of Acehnese control over the region's rich natural resources, have fuelled a widespread desire for independence from Indonesia. Foreigners, whether journalists or aid workers, are only able to visit Aceh under tight restrictions. In 6 months of war hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced, as the military seeks to separate GAM from the village communities.

Last December a Cessation of Hostilities was successfully concluded, and ongoing negotiations under the mediation of the Henri Dunant Centre were widely supported by the international community. But Indonesia abruptly ended its participation and arrested several of the negotiators. There has been only a muted response from western governments including New Zealand.

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