FOR THE BIRDS: Dan Murphy was struck by how far East Timor still has to go. He attended the UN press conference where the results of East Timor's first presidential election were announced (page 7). It was held in a former Indonesian government television and radio studio, which remains mostly intact except for one thing: It has no roof. "It was a little difficult to hear the results over the chatter of the sparrows nesting in the damaged building's walls," Dan says.
JOURNALISTS HELD: Amid growing Israeli strictures on media coverage (see April 2 Monitor story), two Palestinian journalists reported being arrested and abused by Israeli soldiers on April 16.
Maher Shalabi, bureau chief for Dubai Television, says he was blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken from his office by an armored personnel carrier to a site where soldiers pulled his hair, cursed him, and pushed him to the ground.
Shalabi, who holds Israeli press credentials, says he was struck in the groin with a gun, then stomped on. He was treated by an army medic, he says, and then released, with soldiers telling him the arrest was a "mistake." He was then forced to walk back to his office without army escort during a curfew, making him a potential target for troops. Israeli Government Press Office director Daniel Seaman says he has no comment on the episode. Mohammed Daraghmeh, who covers Nablus for The Associated Press, reported being arrested during the early morning hours at his house along with 35 to 40 other men who live in the neighborhood and held handcuffed and blindfolded until 11:00 p.m. He was not questioned. Daraghmeh says that soldiers released him from Hawara military base and ordered him to walk toward Nablus, a distance of seven miles, despite the curfew. About Daraghmeh, Seaman says: "He was not arrested because he is a journalist, he was arrested just like dozens of other Palestinians were arrested."