LETTERS: Journalists in the line of fire

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Maureen Tolfree Sir: The journalistic death toll highlighted by Jonathan Eyal will shock all who took news for granted ("Some journalists are dying for a good story", 3 January). I was one such - until October 1975, when Brian Peters and his four colleagues died at Balibo, East Timor. Accidental death in civil war. Or so we were told. Brian was my brother.

We know, now, that Indonesian troops were involved. We know now that if any of the five had emerged alive, with one of the final films, Indonesia's full-scale invasion would have been cancelled. We know now that the British and Australian governments knew about Balibo but stayed silent. Had they protested, full-scale invasion - and its ghastly aftermath - would not have occurred. We know, too, that a sixth journalist was murdered in East Timor soon after the full-scale invasion. He was Roger East. One reason why he was in East Timor was to investigate the Balibo killings.

Dr Eyal suggests that the media are being taught their responsibilities through journalists' deaths. Their families pay part of the price. When accompanied by government lies, the price is especially heavy.

Yours sincerely, MAUREEN TOLFREE Bristol 4 January Brian Peters was killed while serving as a cameraman for HSV7, Sydney.

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