In 1991 and 2004 the US initiated two coup d'etats against the democratically elected Haitian president Bertrand Aristide. East Timor had been invaded by the Indonesian military in 1975. They occupied the Island and killed one third of the population while Washington was supporting the Suharto regime in Jakarta. The US delivered 90 per cent of the weapons for the genocide in East Timor. The corporate media in the US kept silent about the crimes and followed the official statements of Washington. Goodman unveiled the coup d'etats in Haiti, reported about a brutal massacre of the Indonesian military which she survived in 1991. Her reports helped to put pressure on Washington. In the end East Timor achieved its independency in 2002, Aristide could return to Haiti in 2012. "We have a decision - every day. Whether we want to represent the sword or the shield."
Amy Goodman: founder, producer and host of the newscast Democracy Now, Right Livelihood Award laureate, author of "The Silenced Majority", New York City
David Goessmann: In 2004 the democratically elected Haitian President Aristide, was ousted and US media reported he left office voluntarily. You interviewed him and learned that he was forced out of office by support of the US. Talk about what happened. You called this trickle up journalism because the media in the US had to pick up this story. Explain what you mean by that.
Amy Goodman: I've covered Haiti for years when Jean Betrand Aristide was first elected. He was then ousted in 1991 for three years. Unfortunately in a US-backed coup. And then brought in a US military plane back to Haiti. When he was reelected in 2000 he was ousted again at the behest of the United States and he was sent of involuntarily to the Central African Republic. Their media simply reflected the views of the administration and said that he had left voluntarily. We were able to reach him in the Central African Republic, in the capital Bangui, the US was working with the dictator there to hold him. I went in a small plane with the head of an organisation called Transafrica and a Congress member, named Maxine Waters, and a member of the Jamaican legislator, who was delivering an invite to the Aristides to come back to this hemisphere. And we flew to the Central African Republic and as the Bush administration said the Aristides were not to return to this hemisphere, we flew back to this hemisphere and I covered President Aristide who said that he was the victim of a US-backed coup d'etat, that he was kidnapped, he said. That was in 2004. He was not allowed back into Haiti. He landed in Jamaica and ultimately went into exile in South Africa, where he remained for more than seven years. I recently flew to South Africa to get on this other small plane with the Aristides, as they returned home after more than seven years in exile, when the US was warning them, when President Obama, now not President Bush, but President Obama called President Zuma of South Africa and said "Don't let him leave", but Zuma defied the American President and President Aristide, his wife, and their daughter flew back to Haiti. And the response on the ground was remarkable. Tens of thousands of people greeting the former President, where he remains today in Haiti.
David Goessmann: You went to East Timor, I guess in 1991 with your friend Allan Nairn. The independent country East Timor was then occupied by Indonesian forces and tens of thousands of people had died by then. You went to a memorial mass and this turned into a massacre. You were almost shot. What happened?
Amy Goodman: I went to East Timor in 1990 and 1991, seventeen years into the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. East Timor is a tiny island nation three hundred miles above Australia. On 12/7/1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor by land, by air, and by sea. 90% of the weapons were from the United States. The day before the invasion (???). In 1991 I got a chance to go to East Timor with my colleague Allan Nairn. He was writing for the New Yorker magazine, I was doing a documentary for Pacifica Radio. In 1991 an UN-delegation was going, after seventeen years of occupation, for the first time to investigate the human rights situation. On 11/12/1991 the people gathered at the catholic church and they had mass, two weeks before a young man had been killed by the Indonesian military, because young people all over the country were taking refuge in catholic churches to speak to the UN-delegation when they came. They were dropping out of home, work, going into the churches. Because they were the only civilian institutions allowed to stand under the Indonesion military dictatorship. That morning we followed the crowd. They had mass and then they walked through streets of Dili, the capital of East Timor, thousands of people. Young people wrote signs on bed sheets that said things like, why do the Indonesian military shoot our church, they appealed to President George HW Bush at the time to the UN, someone to pay attention to stop the killing. And we followed them to the cemetery. When the people got to the cemetery. We then saw the Indonesian military marching up, ten to twelve to fifteen abreast carrying their US M16s at the ready position. The people could not escape the cemetery because there were walls on either side of the road. Allan and I decided to walk to the front of the crowd, because although we knew the Indonesian military had committed many massacres in the past, they'd never done it in front of western journalists. I put on my equipment, usually I hid it because people caught talking to western journalist could be arrested or killed. Now I've slung my tape recorder off my shoulder, I put my microphone up like a flag and Allan put the camera above his head. We walked to the front of the crowd. The soldiers marched up, they swept around the corner, they swept past us and without any warning, without any provocation, without any hesitation they opened fire on the crowd, gunning people down from right to left. They got a hold of my microphone, they were waving it in my face as if to say "this is what we don't want" and then they beat me to the ground. Allan got a photograph of them opening fire and then he threw himself on top of me. Protecting me from further injury. And they took their US M16s like baseball bats untill the fractured his skull. We lay on the ground, Allen was covered in blood, they were killing everyone around us and we were able to get into a Red Cross jeep, we made it to a hospital, many Timorese jumped on top of our jeep and we drove as a human mass to the hospital. At the hospital the doctors and nurses started to cry, when they saw us. We were not in worse shape than the Timorese. Many were dragged by their loved ones to the hospital to see if the doctors and nurses could save us. But the doctors and nurses cried, I think, for two reasons: Because of what we represent to the people of Timor, the sword and the shield. The sword, because the US government all too often provides weapons to human rights abusing regimes, like in Indonesia, or uses them themselves like in Iraq, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they also see the people in a different way, the American people, and people in the industrialised countries as the shield and they saw that shield bloodied that day and it just deepened their despair. That was 1991. We were able to get out of the country that day. There was one plane out, because we couldn't stop the killing in Timor, we thought if we got to the outside world, it would only be the world putting pressure on the Indonesian government. The Indonesian military killed more than 270 Timorese on that day 1991. And in the United States there was no mention of the words East Timor in the seventeen years from the day after the invasion to the day of the massacre 11/12/1991. Seventeen years not on the NBC, ABC, CBS evening news was there mentions of East Timor. Because the media so often follows the lead of those in power. And whether it was a Republican President like Ford or a Democratic President like Carter or Republicans like Reagan or Bush or Clinton, they were providing weapons to the human rights abusing regimes and protecting the US corporations that were in Indonesia. A nation-wide movement grew up in the United States and around the world after the massacre. People, when they would hear would call their Congress member and it became a big issue in the United States. Interestingly, the number one point person in the Senate on Indonesia was Senator Kasten of Wisconsin, and his young aide at the time was one Paul Ryan, who's now the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. So he trained at his knee, if you will. Eight years later, in 1999, because of tremendous pressure around the world, the UN sponsored a referendum for the people of East Timor to vote for their freedom. And I tried to get back into East Timor to cover this through Indonesia, but the Indonesian military caught me in Bali in Jakarta and deported me. But Allan did get in. In a sadistic good-bye operation to the people of East Timor, the Indonesian military burned East Timor to the ground as the people voted. They killed more than a thousand Timorese, just in the voting period. But the voted overwhelmingly to throw out the Indonesian military and to become an independent nation. The UN ran East Timor for three years and then on 5/20/2002, East Timor became the newest nation in the world and I got a chance to go to the big independence celebration, through Australia. It was truly remarkable, hundred thousand people turned out. You know the Indonesian military, over the quarter of a century, killed a third of the population, 200000 Timorese. But a hundred thousand turned out for the independence celebration. Kofi Annan was the UN Secretary General, midnight he gave a major speech and then Xanana Guzman, the rebel leader of East Timor gave his speech at the podium, who was imprisoned by the Indonesian military for years, and became the founding president. He unfurled the flag of the Democratic Republic of East Timor. You could see the light from the fireworks reflected in the tear-stained faces of the people of Timor. They had resisted and they had won. At an unacceptably high price, but they had won. This nation of survivors had prevailed. And they thanked people all over the world, especially from the western, industrialised, most powerful countries for telling their governments to stop sending weapons to human rights abusing regimes, like Indonesia. The people of East Timor, who stood there that night, are a lesson to us all, whether we are journalists, business people, doctors, nurses, students, employed or unemployed: We have a decision - every day. Whether we want to represent the sword or the shield.
David Goessmann: Thankls a lot, Amy Goodman.
Amy Goodman: Thank you.