Where's the Outrage? CPJ Report Calls Murder of Immigrant Journalists Terrorism, but U.S. Law Enforcement and Press Remain Indifferent
Hernandez, Debra Gersh, Editor & Publisher
TERRORIST ACTS HAVE been committed on U.S. soil but have gone unsolved and have received scant media attention, a new report says.
Between 1981 and 1993, 10 foreign-language journalists working in the United States were murdered, eight of them in political assassinations, according to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Previewed during a National Association of Hispanic journalists panel discussion at the Unity '94 convention in Atlanta, the CPJ report, slated for a September release, says it has established "new leads and details in many of these cases" and has documented "in almost all cases that local and national law enforcement authorities are not vigorously investigating these crimes."
A summary of the report says the cases "are likely to remain unsolved" unless the news media spotlight "the apparent unwillingness of law enforcement officials to devote their resources to these attacks,"
The assassinations included five Vietnamese journalists and three Haitians, the study said.
"These journalists had fled repression and turmoil in their native countries only to find death in America for openly expressing their political views," CPJ noted. "In each case, the crimes appeared to have been intended to intimidate or silence dissident voices within these communities'
CPJ uncovered four disturbing patterns:
* Unlike the highly publicized murder case of Manuel de Dios Unanue in New York City, which resulted in arrests and convictions, most of the other killings remain unsolved and have received scant media attention.
* The journalists or their news organizations received "ideologically-motivated threats or other harassment" prior to the murders.
* Most of the murders were treated as local crimes, despite "strong indications that these were political assassinations with national and possibly international implications." Some accounts in the mainstream media intimated "obscure reasons at play, indicating perhaps the journalists were not only press people but were involved in criminal activities as well."
* If the U.S. Department of Justice were willing to allocate the necessary budgets and resources, the crimes could be solved, law enforcement sources told CPJ, but neither Congress nor the press appears interested.
CPJ says it found a double standard: the timely solving of murders of immigrant journalists from ethnic communities too large to ignore and of American journalists, compared with the unsolved murders of journalists from smaller communities, many of whom have only recently fled homelands where speaking out is dangerous.
For example, the 1984 murder of American radio talk-show host Alan Berg led to a nationwide FBI investigation and the arrest and conviction of two white supremacists.
Also in 1984, the murder of Henry Liu in San Francisco by assasins working for the Taiwanese military was quickly dispatched, both because it involved espionage affecting American national security and because the area's Chinese-American population is too large to be ignored, according to CPJ.
The de Dios case also was solved, according to CPJ, because Drug Enforcement Agency officials were eager to prosecute Colombia's Cali drug cartel and, again, because New York's His, panic population wields power.
The murders have had a chilling effect on the press, the report says: Haitian radio commentators have refrained from criticizing the military regime in Haiti. Vietnamese-language newspapers have avoided taking clear positions on U.S. trade and diplomatic relations. Latino journalists are hesitant to report on the drug trade.
CPJ executive director William A. Orme Jr., who met briefly with Attorney General Janet Reno, told the Unity audience that the justice Department is aware of the situation, but little is being done.
"The non-english-language press has always been a part of the American press, and it has the same First Amendment rights," Orme said. …