Subject: Timor journo 'beaten' by police

also RSF: Police arrest and beat Timor Post employee, obstruct foreign reporters

The Australian

Timor journo 'beaten' by police

Michael Mckenna | February 26, 2008

A SENIOR staff member of the East Timor Post newspaper was allegedly beaten and arrested at the weekend in the latest of a series of incidents pointing to a crackdown on press freedom across the troubled country.

Less than a month after Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao threatened to arrest local journalists, claiming inaccurate reporting was contributing to national instability, East Timor Post senior layout editor Agustinho Ta Pasea was arrested on Saturday morning on his way to the Dili printing presses with a computer file of the paper's weekend edition.

Post editor Mouzinho De Araujo told The Australian Ta Pasea claims he was stopped at 2am, beaten by military police and then taken to a police station where he was assaulted again.

De Araujo said his staff member was held for 11 hours on grounds he had broken the 10pm-6am curfew in Dili, introduced during recent unrest: "He wasn't out there because of personal interests, but because of the national interests in trying to keep the people informed.

"Agus showed his identity card, explained he was taking the edition to be published and then these police punched him. He was later beaten at the police station by several men ... Maybe, it is because our newspaper has been tough on authorities."

Ta Pasea was released early on Saturday afternoon with cuts and bruises to his face. The edition of the newspaper was published later that day, instead of the usual time of 7am. De Araujo said he had lodged a formal complaint with police and the Government.

In January, Mr Gusmao said 2008 was a year of reform that would include the local media.


Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontiŤres

25 February 2008

EAST TIMOR Police arrest and beat Timor Post employee, obstruct foreign reporters

Reporters Without Borders condemns the action of the police in arresting and beating a Timor Post journalist on the night of 22 February as he was travelling to the location in Kaikoli, near Dili, where his daily is printed in order to help prepare the next issue. He was freed the next day.

The staff of daily newspapers have had to take risks to bring out issues on time since an 8pm-to-6am curfew was imposed under a state or emergency that was declared after the attempted murders of President Josť Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on 11 February. The emergency was extended for another 30 days on 22 February.

Reporter Rory Callinan of Time magazine and photographer John Wilson were detained and threatened by Australian members of an international peace-keeping force near Dili in mid-February when they tried to avoid a roadblock set up by the peace-keepers during a sweep for rebel soldiers.

According to their story, published in The Australian, they were eventually able to continue on their way but were arrested again for violating the curfew. Other reporters, including The Australian's correspondent, were blocked at a checkpoint by Australian soldiers.

The Australian photographer Lindsay Moller was meanwhile manhandled by two Portuguese peace-keepers and forced to delete the photos she had taken of an Australian woman of Timorese origin, Angelita Pires, who had been arrested on suspicion of supporting soldiers participating in the uprising.

Prime Minister Gusmao imposed the state of emergency in order to facilitate operations against the rebels. Gusmao was not hurt in the 11 February murder attempts but the president was serious injured. Three weeks before, on 18 January, Gusmao had threatened to arrest journalists who published "erroneous" information. He referred at the time to recent interviews with rebel leader Alfredo Reinado which, he said, had contributed to national instability.

Back to February  menu

December 2007
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu