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Jose Ramos-Horta On Pacifica And Amy Goodman

Statement By Jose Ramos-Horta On Pacifica And Amy Goodman
Winner, Nobel Peace Prize, 1986

September 3, 2001 Dili, East Timor

I was distressed to learn that Amy Goodman's reporting on East Timor has been questioned and that some have alleged that the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre may not have taken place. As an East Timorese, I want to express my outrage that her account of the massacre has been challenged by a campaign of innuendo and insult. As a former journalist, I want to express my wholehearted support for Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now!

As an occasional guest on her program, I can attest to her professionalism. Her reporting on East Timor, some of it done at great personal risk, has always been accurate, ground-breaking and vitally important.

Her presence and actions at Santa Cruz are undisputed by observers. The massacre of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators and mourners was a turning point in our struggle for self-determination. At that tragic time, the presence of foreign journalists like Amy, was key. Their words and pictures were a vital source of accurate information on the massacre in the face of official Indonesian denials and misleading reports. This reporting inspired action and policy change worldwide.

I have especially admired the non-Timorese who have dedicated themselves to East Timor. It is not their country, and journalists traveling there faced special risks. Although she knew that five foreign journalists had been murdered by the Indonesian military in East Timor at the start of the invasion in 1975, Amy went to East Timor in 1990 and 1991 to cover a story most ignored.

In East Timor, we have renamed a major road Avenida Liberdade da Imprensa, or Freedom of the Press Avenue. On that road, a Dutch journalist was murdered in September 1999. We have dedicated a memorial to his memory and the memories of the other journalists killed while covering East Timor.

We are now working to build our own media and train our own journalists. I can only hope, that they will contribute to our democracy by probing deeply and asking the critical questions -- the way Amy has always done.

Pacifica and WBAI should be proud to have a journalist of such high caliber working for them. They should be supporting her, not attacking her, and improving her working conditions, not hindering her ability to do her job.

Ends

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