Peter Murphy writes:

Christian Kerr (and Paul Toohey of The Bulletin)
yesterday (item 15) confirmed that my report on the attack on TVTL, the main media outlet
in Timor-Leste, on the morning of June 29 was accurate.

It must have been accurate because the effort to
it was all about another story – not a media story, but my note to
of democracy in Timor-Leste about the biased conduct of Australian
troops. The sting in the report about the anti-government thugs
attacking TVTL was that the Australian military had ignored pleas by
TVTL staff
for security for several weeks.

Both Crikey and The Bulletin – like all
media outlets and journalists – should take a stand against such attacks.
That’s why it is disappointing to see that my report was denigrated in a
deceptive way, after Crikey had initially done the right thing.

As for my account of the Australian military going to
Lospalos on 9 June, it seems I was wrong about the date and right about the
content. The Bulletin is also wrong about the date. They say 13 June,
and my checking with the District Administrator of Lospalos, Mr Olavio
Monteiro, says it was 14 June. The Australian officer asked him whether there
were any guns and how much support Mr Alkatiri had. Mr Monteiro replied that
there were no guns, and that Alkatiri’s political party, Fretilin, has support
from the majority in Lospalos according to the elections results.

Paul Toohey phoned me – I didn’t contact him – about this
account when I was in Dili. I told Toohey that I heard it from an eye-witness,
that it wasn’t hearsay, and that if he wanted to check it I would give him the
phone number of a credible source – the District Administrator. Mr Toohey says
he called Mr Monteiro unsuccessfully many times, and so he only had the
Australian military view. He has gone on to attack my integrity unfairly.

It isn’t me who is indulging in misinformation, but
rather, a quick glance at the Australian mainstream media will show a string of
untested assumptions being paraded as dogmatic truth. Crikey should help
correct that. So should Mr Toohey. Australian journalists should talk to all
sides to put the most accurate story together.

I am from the left and a trade unionist but, on Timor,
my views are the same as those of most Australians, who have always supported
the right of the Timorese people for independence and democracy since 1974 –
despite the policies of Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard.

Are you really saying that anything from a Fretilin
supporter can’t be true? Did Paul Toohey show some bias in describing the people
who burned, looted and murdered as “people power” while the peaceful, much
larger pro-government rally is called “rent-a-crowd”?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey