Today's Story Line

The tension between basic civilian liberties and state control are evident in two stories today.

In Russia, security agencies are tightening the vise on free speech. Academics, environmentalists, and journalists are feeling the squeeze because any sharing of public information with foreigners is being called treason if it threatens, or seems to threaten, government interests (page 1).

In Indonesia, the military is attacking civilians seen as supporters of the independence movement in the resource-rich province of Aceh. This is despite pledges by President Abdurrahman Wahid to stop military abuses and to give Aceh back more oil-and-gas revenues (this page).

David Clark Scott World editor


DETOURED IN ACEH: On the day reporter Dan Murphy drove south from Banda Aceh to Lhokseumawe, Indonesia, about half of the route was cut off by Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels. It took about five minutes of fast talking for Dan's guide to persuade the rebels that Dan was not a government spy but a journalist. Still, they had to take the back roads. His five-hour detour gave him a window on the GAM's logistical coordination. Dan drove from village to village, and met with GAM intelligence officers holding Motorola two-way radios who directed locals to hop on a motorcycle and lead them to the next village.

"It's clear that in some parts of Aceh, GAM has developed a very close working relationship with the people. In the past, most folks were more neutral. But the cooperation is in part because the Indonesian military's abusive behavior has driven people to the GAM for some sense of protection," says Dan.

Follow-up on a Monitor story:

Remember Joe? Joe ("I am Canadian") has left Canada.

As reported in the Monitor on May 4, actor Jeff Douglas performed a 60-second "rant" in a beer commercial last year that galvanized Canadians into a patriotic fervor. But he has recently decamped for Los Angeles.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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