INDONESIAN soldiers marching 12 abreast had just opened fire on
a crowd of East Timorese mourners when one soldier grabbed reporter
Amy Goodman, threw her to the ground, and began kicking her and
beating her with his rifle. Ten soldiers then surrounded Ms.
Goodman and her colleague in firing-squad fashion.
"I had my passport; they kicked me in the stomach. I doubled
over, but each time I could grab my breath I said, 'We're from
America, we're from America!' " says Goodman, a reporter for WBAI
radio in New York.
Goodman and her colleague were let go and caught a plane out
that afternoon. They brought with them first-hand accounts of the
1991 massacre of more than 250 civilians in East Timor.
Scores of reporters around the world are harassed and beaten,
sometimes even assassinated, simply for doing their jobs. Local
reporters are most often the targets, but foreign journalists are
now more vulnerable than ever before.
"If there ever was a sense that journalists should be given some
sort of immunity, it is long gone," says Terry Anderson, who adds
that it was rare for journalists to be targets when he was snatched
from his car in suburban Beirut in 1985. He was held for seven
years by Islamic fundamentalists.
Mr. Anderson is now a board member of the New York-based
Committee to Protect Journalists. Since January 1994, CPJ has
confirmed that 110 reporters were killed on dangerous assignments
or assassinated because of their work. Another 22 deaths are under
In the Bosnian conflict alone, CPJ has confirmed 41 journalist
killed because of their profession since 1991. Another 12 deaths
are still being investigated.
"Bosnia has been ... the most dangerous foreign conflict for
journalists since Vietnam," says Bill Orme, CPJ's executive
director. "That is doubly remarkable given its geographic scale,
the smaller number of combatants, and that it's in the heart of
Monitor correspondent David Rohde's arrest by Bosnian Serbs Oct.
29 is typical of a growing trend in which foreign correspondents
become political pawns. Mr. Rohde was released and all charges
against him were dropped on Wednesday.
Rohde was the first to verify the massacre of Muslim civilians
by Bosnian Serbs after the fall of the Srebrenica "safe area" in
July. He was also the first to interview Muslim survivors of the
"I don't know if the Bosnian Serbs have articulated a larger
design yet," says Nicholas Daniloff, who was arrested on false
espionage charges in Moscow in 1986 and detained for almost two
weeks. "This may simply be a case of sweet revenge against David
While local journalists in dozens of developing countries have
faced daily intimidation and harassment from government officials
for decades, foreign reporters were generally afforded more respect.
While foreign correspondents' stories may have caused some
international public-relations trouble, their reports rarely
reached the local people. So the journalists were generally left to
do their work, subject to occasional intimidation and harassment.
Often the most danger they faced was in combat, when they were shot
at along with the troops they covered.
"They were rarely singled out for attack just because they were
journalists," says Mr. Orme. "That's no longer the case."
As civil strife breeds chaos, and rebel groups operate outside
the rule of the international law, journalists are often viewed as
proxies for foreign governments or the international community. As
such, they are perceived as the enemy, fair game to be used as
bargaining chips or deterrents.
"If your aim as an insurgent force is to keep a story from being
reported," Orme says, "shooting a foreign correspondent is a very
effective way to make that happen."
The strife in Somalia has dropped off the front pages and out of
some papers altogether, in part because there is less interest in
the story since the United States withdrew. …