Frontline World

About the Series


From the producers of FRONTLINE, a series of stories

from a new generation of video journalists.


Stories From a Small Planet

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE/WORLD, three stories from a small planet.

First, a report from the Philippines.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: The MILF is waging a classic, guerrilla warfare. They come in, hit these villages hard and then split.

ANNOUNCER: Why are U.S. troops involved in this civil war?

Next, in the West Bank, where journalists have come under fire from the Israeli army.

NAEL SHYOUKI, Reuters: The moment they took positions, they just start firing towards us.

DANNY SEAMAN, Israeli Press Officer: We try to educate them that it’s unacceptable that the journalists be beaten, that the journalists be injured in any way.

ANNOUNCER: And finally, Bhutan, the last country in the world to get television.

RINZY DORJI, Co-Owner of SIGMA Cable: We are tuning the TV.

DAGO BIDA, Bhutanese Businesswoman: People who come here to Bhutan, they all fall in love with Bhutan. They’ve always told me, "Don’t bring television into the country."

KINLEY DORJI, Editor of Bhutan’s Only Newspaper: Why are these big men standing there hitting each other? I mean, what’s the purpose of it?

Philippines: Islands Under Siege

Reported by Orlando de Guzman

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN, Reporter: [voice-over] The Southeast Asian nation of the Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands. I’m traveling to the southernmost region, Mindanao.

I grew up in a town 800 miles to the north. Mindanao, to me, feels like another country. As in the rest of the Philippines, 90 percent of the people here are Christians, but minority Muslims, or Moros, have been fighting a guerrilla war to turn Mindanao into an Islamic state. The Philippine government has resisted. Now they say their soldiers need America’s help to defeat the guerrillas.

My first stop is the town of Jolo.

[on camera] Today it was announced just as I got off the boat that the joint U.S. military exercises will be happening here in Jolo. And over here is one of the first messages you’ll see as you enter town.

[sign: We will not let history repeat itself. Yankees back off]

[voice-over] The people here have always resisted outsiders. For three centuries, the Spanish colonizers were unable to subdue Mindanao’s Muslims. A hundred years ago, when the United States drove the Spanish from the Philippines, the Americans succeeded in conquering Mindanao, but not before the Moros mounted a fierce and bloody resistance. In the Moro-American war, the U.S. massacred thousands of Muslims.

[ More on U.S.-Philippines history]

At a local radio station, tribal singers protest the second coming of America.

SINGER: [subtitles] The Americans are coming back again. They want to take back the Philippines. But the Muslims keep on waging war. The Americans do not follow the Divine Law. They will steal our independence.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: When the Americans first came here, Mindanao was almost entirely Muslim. The central government urged many Christian immigrants to settle here, and after World War II, Mindanao was formally annexed. Muslim rebels still insist all of Mindanao belongs to them, but the government says it cannot afford to lose resource-rich Mindanao. It supplies around half of the Philippines’ export revenue.

By far the largest and best-armed Muslim rebel group is the MILF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

I arrived in March, as the Philippine government was conducting a major offensive. Peace talks had broken down. There were gun battles every day, and we heard news of an ongoing battle in the village of Baliki.

[on camera] So there’s been some fighting just down the road here, and over here are some families trying to leave the fighting. So they’re on their way out.

[subtitles] Are you evacuating?

WOMAN: [subtitles] Yes, we are evacuating.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [subtitles] Why?

WOMAN: Because of the intense fighting up ahead. Don’t pass that road. You might get caught in a crossfire. Go this way.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [voice-over] The first line of defense for Christian villages in Mindanao are government-armed civilian militias. In Baliki, I went to talk to their captain.

[subtitles] What happened earlier?

VILLAGE CAPTAIN: [subtitles] We were tired from last night’s patrol and I was asleep. Suddenly, we were awakened by a loud gunshot.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [subtitles] Who’s on the other side? Who is the enemy?

VILLAGE CAPTAIN: [subtitles] The MILF.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [voice-over] But often outgunned, the militias have to call in the Philippine military for assistance.

[on camera] The Philippine army is having to fight the MILF in places like this. The MILF is waging a classic guerrilla warfare. They come in, hit these villages hard. So what the army is trying to do is drive them out of here.

[voice-over] Skirmishes such as this one often end in bloodshed. During this assault, 17 Christian civilians were injured in a nearby town.

[on camera] Whenever there’s any kind of fighting here, there’s always the spectators, the curious spectators who just want to watch what’s happening.

[voice-over] This day, the enemy remained elusive. In fact, the military seldom does more than keep the MILF at bay. At the end of the day, the villages are left back in the hands of armed civilians, at risk of being attacked again. Farmers work the fields armed with guns.

FARMER: [subtitles] We’re scared. The MILF fire at us because they want us to leave our fields. It would be better if they only attacked the military, instead of civilians. We just want to earn a living. We don’t want trouble.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [subtitles] But the Muslims say the Christians are grabbing the land.

FARMER: [subtitles] No. This land here, this is ours. There are no Muslims here.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [voice-over] The conflict has also come to the cities. On April 2nd, a bomb exploded in the mostly Christian city of Davao. Sixteen people were killed. The government claimed the bombing was carried out by the MILF, with the help of Jemaah Islamiya, the group responsible for the Bali nightclub bombing. I arrived in Davao the day after the attack.

The MILF is suspected of 20 bombings throughout Mindanao this year alone, resulting in numerous deaths. But the MILF typically denies any involvement.

Muslims are also victims of violence. A few hours after the Davao bombing, unidentified men in fatigues attacked three nearby mosques with hand grenades. An imam told me that Muslims are suffering the most in this war. The numbers bear him out. While hundreds of Christians are driven from their villages by the MILF, tens of thousands of Muslims have fled their homes because of the military offensives.

They seek refuge in evacuation centers. Some refugees have been here for the last three years. They now number 320,000. It’s a miserable life in these centers. Since February, 54 refugees have died of illness. Food is scarce.

I went along with these Muslim refugees as they returned to their homes to scavenge for crops they’d abandoned during the fighting. When we arrived, the village was still an active combat zone and troops patrolled the area for MILF rebels.

[on camera] So this area is still a very hostile place. The Philippine army officer here was telling these villagers not to venture out too far because the troops might mistake them for MILF rebels.

[voice-over] I spoke to some of the residents.

VILLAGE MAN: [subtitles] I don’t know why this happened. The soldiers, they said they didn’t burn any of our homes. But now look, our homes are gone.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [voice-over] Most of the homes were destroyed. Another man found his home vandalized by the military with anti-MILF graffiti. Most Muslims feel they’re at the mercy of the Philippine military. Although they won’t say it openly, they view the MILF as a legitimate organization that defends their communities and their faith.

Through our contacts, I arranged for a meeting with the MILF’s military chief. I grabbed my flak jacket. And my producer, Margarita Dragon, was told she was required to wear a head scarf. We set out on a journey to MILF-controlled territory.

[on camera] When I was growing up here in the Philippines, my parents never let me ride on top of these jeepneys because it’s just too dangerous. But this gives you the best view of the countryside. My MILF contacts haven’t exactly told me where we’re heading, but for the past hour, we’ve been going up this very rough road.

[ Read the reporter’s diary]

[voice-over] When the road ended, we set off for a long hike deep into rebel-held territory. These mountain slopes mark the end of government control and the start of MILF country, an area called Camp Abubakar. Abubakar spans 12,000 acres and once had more than 10,000 Muslim residents. It had a Sharia court, a jail, several mosques and schools. But in the year 2000, in what was called the "all-out war," the Philippine government destroyed key sections of Abubakar.

Although pushed underground, the MILF still controls most of their former territory. Like many revolutionary groups, it relies on a rotating volunteer force. Our guides are MILF members who reside in the city but come up to the mountains to serve their tour of duty in Abubakar.

[on camera] So these are our guides for today. They’ve had to cover up so nobody would recognize them.

He says there was an ambush not too long ago here. Three soldiers were killed.

[voice-over] Most of the villagers here have fled. But on our way up, we met an old man who refused to leave even though the military destroyed his home. I asked him why he decided not to move to the city, like many others.

OLD MAN: [subtitles] We won’t have anything to live on in the city. We can’t grow corn. It’s difficult. You don’t have any livestock. You don’t have money. We can’t earn a living, nothing. We’ve been here for generations.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [subtitles] Do the people here feel like they’re fighting for the land?

OLD MAN: [subtitles] No, they are fighting for their lives.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [voice-over] He showed me what was left of his home. He said he’ll be ready the next time the military comes. This 70-year-old man just bought a rifle and says he’s prepared to fight.

Later, we met up with armed MILF soldiers who were sent to meet and escort us deeper into the jungle. After 14 hours of hiking, we reached this, an empty concrete house. It looked like nothing to me, but i was told it was once MILF headquarters. The house was bombed and overrun by the government during the "all-out war." Since then, the rebels have quietly retaken large sections of Abubakar, and they hang on to this house as a symbol of their strength. I couldn’t help feeling that this empty house was more a symbol of isolation than strength.

Nearby, a unit gathered to renew their pledge for jihad against the government. The local field commander is a man known only by his radio code name, "Congressman."

"CONGRESSMAN": [subtitles] What we want to achieve is independence for the Moro people. If we can’t get it, we would rather die here, where we were born.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: Congressman has been fighting for 30 years. After two days of listening to MILF grievances, I still hadn’t met their chief military commander. Suddenly, we were told to go back to the city and wait.

I returned to Cotabato, a city where the population is split 50/50 between Christian and Muslim. Cotabato lies in a province where the MILF is very active. I went to talk to the governor, Emmanuel Piñol. He’s strongly critical of the MILF, especially their tactics.

Governor EMMANUEL PIÑOL: Representing legitimate grievances of the Moro people is one thing. Killing civilians by bombings, killing civilians by burning them alive is another. Within the MILF is a group that is holding sway right now that will not be contented with anything less than an Islamic state and who are linked to the al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. Where are they going to establish an Islamic state? How do you come up with an independent Islamic state with the presence of Christians in Mindanao? It’s going to be a messy problem.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: Finally, we received word that Al Haj Murad, the MILF’s military chief was ready to see us. Our meeting took place only a short distance away from a highway heavily guarded by the government.

Since the all-out war in 2000, Al Haj Murad has not been interviewed or publicly seen in Mindanao. My producer, Margarita, negotiated this exclusive interview when she met with Murad a few months ago.

Like other leaders of the MILF, Al Haj Murad, one of its founders, is a former mujahedeen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. Murad says he met bin Laden there in the 1980s, and he says the MILF receives donations from Muslims around the world. Last month, the Philippine government put a million-dollar bounty on Murad. He’s wanted for murder and for bombings like the one i saw in Davao.

Surrounded by his soldiers, we talked over lunch. He told me that under Islamic rule, Mindanao’s Christians will be free to stay or go, but he was uncompromising on the MILF’s demand for control of all of Mindanao. And he said his soldiers are not terrorists.

AL HAJ MURAD: It is very possible that there will be a time they will declare us as terrorists. They will influence the U.S. to declare us as terrorists. But you see, declaring a certain group as a terrorist does not mean the end of everything because it may affect in some manner the operation of the organization, but the existence of the organization is not-- will not be affected. Our strategy is, we e try very much to avoid being declared as a terrorist because we are not really terrorists.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [on camera] But several security analysts and intelligence people have pointed out to links between the MILF and known terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiya.

AL HAJ MURAD: The MILF is one organization who sent our people to Afghanistan to fight alongside with the Afghan people against Russia. So from there, our people were able to mingle in some-- in Afghanistan. So they have created some personal relationship. But as to actual relationship of organization, connections of organization, there is no actual connection of organization.

We are fighting on our own. We are-- our objective is to achieve the aspiration of the Moro people. We are not concerned with the objective of the brothers in Indonesia, in Malaysia or in other region, in the Middle East. We are-- we are concentrated only on the aspiration of the Moro people.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: What do you think of these joint U.S. military exercises possibly happening in central Mindanao?

AL HAJ MURAD: We have nothing against the U.S. government. We are not fighting the U.S. government. We hope that, finally, the U.S. will realize that not all the Muslims are terrorists and they cannot equate Islam to terrorism, and the problem here in Mindanao cannot be a part of the fight against global terrorism. This is a local problem, domestic problem. And the U.S. forces should not be dragged into this conflict because it would only-- it would only complicate more the situation.

ORLANDO DE GUZMAN: [voice-over] American troops are back in the Philippines. We filmed them as they trained Filipino soldiers not far from the capital, Manila. But soon these military exercises will move to Mindanao, in areas where the MILF is active. The U.S. is coming just as the conflict is escalating. In the last few weeks, the Philippine government has launched attacks on some of the same MILF positions we had visited. Thirty thousand more civilians have been displaced.

The U.S. sees this as part of its global war against terrorism. The Philippine government, seeking American support, is offering the MILF as the next terrorist group. But if history is any guide, it’ll be a long and dirty conflict. For the people of Mindanao, a protracted war will certainly mean more suffering and deepening hatred between Christians and Muslims.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up later, Bhutan. What happens when television arrives in a remote Buddhist kingdom?

But first, one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

[originally broadcast March 20, 2003]

Israel/Occupied Territories: In the Line of Fire

Reported by Patricia Naylor

PATRICIA NAYLOR, Reporter: [voice-over] I was working in Jerusalem when the second intifada broke out. I’m a Canadian TV journalist. This is a story that started for me one day in 2001, when I drove into the heart of the West Bank, to Hebron. It’s a city of more than 150,000 Palestinians, with a small enclave of 400 Jewish settlers guarded by Israeli soldiers.

Tensions between the Palestinians and settlers have always made this city extremely volatile. There were frequent clashes between Palestinians, settlers, and the Israeli soldiers stationed here.

As I watched the scenes that would become the images that the world sees on the evening news, I found myself also watching the cameramen who take these pictures. Here, most of them are Palestinians working for international news agencies. I’d once worked with one of them, Mazen Dana, who was with the British news agency Reuters, together with his partner, Nael Shyouki.

This time Dana was lucky, just a few cuts from flying glass. After the clash ended, the cameramen told me they weren’t always this lucky. They all had stories of coming under fire from Israeli soldiers, of being hit with rubber bullets and sometimes live ammunition.

PHOTOGRAPHER: All of the Palestinian here, journalists, were injured by the soldiers and by Jewish settlers. [sound of gunfire] Excuse me. Be careful!

PATRICIA NAYLOR: Amer Jabari said he had many rubber bullets to his head. He’s the cameraman for ABC News. More shots to his legs, shot three times in the arm.

Hazem Bader, a cameraman for Associated Press, said he’d had bullets to his leg, shot in his camera hand while filming. And another day, soldiers turned on him, and his front teeth were punched out.

Out of desperation, the cameramen told me, they made a pact. Whenever one of them was being attacked, the others would film. They offered to show me their private video collection, images that rarely make the news.

NAEL SHYOUKI: Watch this.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: On this tape, the cameramen were being harassed by Israeli settlers, some of them children. They tried to stop them from filming.

On another tape, the cameraman for French television defended himself against Israeli settlers. Mazen Dana started filming the attack. Things got worse. Dana turned his camera back on to record the cameraman being loaded into an ambulance. He had been beaten unconscious.

When the current intifada began in the fall of 2000, the cameramen said, the attacks became more frequent. Mazen Dana was shot two days in a row.

But of all the videotaped shootings, the one I found most disturbing was Nael Shyouki’s from 1998, before the current intifada. On this night, Israeli settlers in Hebron marched down Palestinian streets. Soldiers forced them home. When the streets fell quiet, the cameramen stood on the sidewalk, making plans to leave.

NAEL SHYOUKI: This is the moment when the soldier comes to shoot. That’s when I’m shot. First this one. First bullet.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: Lying on the ground, he was shot a second time.

NAEL SHYOUKI: I felt, you know, dizzy. I couldn’t-- the moment I was about to go down, he shot me one more time in my back. And it was very strong one.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: The cameramen were shouting, "We are journalists!" Finally, one cameraman managed to drag him to safety. As they rushed him to hospital, others turned on their cameras to document the soldiers at the scene.

Three years after he was shot, Shyouki took me to the scene to show me where he was standing. He said that night, the soldiers were less than 100 feet away.

NAEL SHYOUKI: And the moment they took positions, they start firing towards us. Everybody hide, and start scream, "We are journalists!" We spoke in Hebrew. We spoke in English. Everybody. We shout a lot. I guess the whole mountain, this mountain, heard our voice, everybody in this area, except these soldiers. They didn’t want to hear. They just kept shooting and shooting and shooting.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: He told me eight journalists were shot that night, including Mazen Dana.

MAZEN DANA: I lost my camera. I’m trying to pull Nael. I have bullet here. So I came back here, and I have bullet in my shoulder.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: They had been hit with rubber bullets, which are used for crowd control. But these Israeli-made bullets have a steel core. They can be deadly at close range.

NAEL SHYOUKI: [pulling up shirt] That’s the metal, this thing.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: At the time of Shyouki’s shooting, Palestinian and Israeli journalists united in protest.

NAEL SHYOUKI: There were many voices asked for investigation. And even the Israeli journalists, they came here in solidarity with us, and they said, "It’s a clear crime that the army targeted a journalist.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: Other Israeli journalists had their own stories to tell. Photographer Avichai Nitzan is still haunted by the words of a doctor.

AVICHAI NITZAN: I’ll never forget that. He said, "You were very lucky." The bullet stopped two millimeters from the main artery to the legs. Had it gone in another two millimeters, I would probably not be talking right now with you.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: Nitzan says the soldier didn’t realize he was Israeli.

AVICHAI NITZAN: I was standing with another five or six Palestinian photographers. And the soldiers hate the Palestinian photographers. For the soldier, I know from later, he told people when they stopped him, that he thought it was a Palestinian photographer. And then he saw me being dragged over to his side. And then he understood that I was of his own religion and served in the same army as he did and had a girlfriend and stuff. So I think that’s when it hit him, because as long as it was an Arab, he didn’t really care.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: The army immediately investigated and concluded Nitzan had been reckless. He says the report was completely inaccurate, and he’s now suing the Israeli army.

When I returned to Jerusalem, I wanted to talk about the shootings with foreign reporters. This is the building where international television networks base their correspondents. In the offices of TF-1, I found Bertrand Agierre. He told me he was shot covering a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Agierre had just finished his report and the rally was ending, when a soldier from the border police got out of his Jeep and fired. A live bullet hit Agierre squarely in the chest. He was only saved by his bulletproof vest.

Images of his shooting were broadcast around the world. The Israeli government investigated and concluded there was not enough evidence to act.

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS SPOKESMAN: [news conference] --for abusive and dangerous behavior by soldiers--

PATRICIA NAYLOR: There were so many shootings of journalists that a French group, Reporters Without Borders, came to Israel to hold a news conference. The group documented 40 shootings of journalists in the first months of the intifada. Danny Seaman, the Israeli official in charge of all foreign press, responded to their report.

DANNY SEAMAN, Israeli Press Officer: [news conference] Threats, injury or harm to members of the media, whether intentional or by error, are unacceptable. The state of Israel regrets any injury caused to journalists as a result of actions by our forces or individuals within our forces.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: After the news conference, I met with Danny Seaman.

DANNY SEAMAN: We try to educate them that it’s unacceptable that the journalists be beaten, that the journalists be injured, that they be abused in any way. To prevent every one of these cases, we’re not going to be able to do that.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: Seaman agreed to watch one shooting, one he’d never seen before, Nael Shyouki’s.

DANNY SEAMAN: We don’t see here where he was shot from, who shot him. A lot of people have-- oh, geez! What hit him, a bullet or a rubber bullet? Does anybody know? A rubber bullet.

I’m sorry. Certainly, I’m sorry. I wish he didn’t have to go through this. But this I say personally, not as an official person, because it always has other connotations as a government-- I don’t think anything I say is-- I’m sorry this had to happen to him. I wish it didn’t have to happen. I wish the circumstances weren’t such. I don’t think anything I say is going to make him feel better.

[ Read the interview]

PATRICIA NAYLOR: [on camera] He says even an apology would.

DANNY SEAMAN: Yeah. I don’t think he means my apology. I know what he means. Maybe that will happen.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: [voice-over] That was all a year ago. Since then, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated. Suicide bombers intensified their deadly campaign. The Israeli army invaded most of the West Bank. Since the beginning of the intifada, more than 600 Israelis and more than 1,700 Palestinians have died.

Covering the conflict has become even more dangerous for journalists. While filming a protest near Bethlehem, a BBC crew came under fire.

BBC REPORTER: [voice-over] And then the army turned their guns toward us as we filmed.

BBC CREW: OK. OK! We’re going! We’re going! OK!

BBC REPORTER: More gunfire, even as we scrambled for our car. Then we were pinned down. In the end, they forced us to go on foot.

[ Most dangerous places for journalists]

PATRICIA NAYLOR: An NBC crew was also shot at in Ramallah.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC Anchor: --NBC news vehicles containing correspondent Dana Lewis.

DANA LEWIS, Correspondent: Israeli soldiers stepped out in front of us, opened fire on the front of the vehicle, bullets hitting the windshield, the front grill. We stopped, turned on the light inside so he could see we were journalists, in case he didn’t already know. We put up our hands-- 10, 15 seconds of silence, and then he opened fire again.

TOM BROKAW, NBC Anchor: [Committee to Protect Journalists ceremony] The personal perils of this calling are profound.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: In the United States, the Committee to Protect Journalists warns of "a growing animosity in Israel toward the media" and has protested the shootings. At their 20th anniversary ceremony in New York, they honored Mazen Dana with the Press Freedom Award, recognizing that he kept powerful images in the public eye despite great physical risk to himself.

Several months later, I went back to Hebron to see Mazen Dana. He was still working for Reuters, and he told me that while filming Israeli bulldozers from inside this apartment building, he was almost killed.

MAZEN DANA: I moved from here, going up to the stairs there, and they start shooting. The soldier in front of us, they saw us clearly. Just I turn a little bit, I found the bullet coming from here and entered the camera in between.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: The bullet struck his camera, just missing his head.

MAZEN DANA: Really, I thought that God give me a new life.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: Troubled by what Dana told me, I went to see his boss in Jerusalem. Tim Heritage is the Reuters bureau chief.

TIM HERITAGE, Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Reuters: We have an incident a week, probably, where someone gets shot at. We routinely protest, don’t really hear anything back from the army. We demand investigations, don’t really get very much.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: I ask him why he thinks this is happening.

TIM HERITAGE: Why are we being shot at? Because they don’t want us going places. They don’t want us doing things. They don’t like us. They don’t want-- there’s obviously a lot of things they don’t want happening. They don’t want us getting into the war zone or whatever [unintelligible] I’m not sure it’s a deliberate policy or anything. I don’t know if other people suggest this to you, but I think it’s just more haphazard, and there’s a lack of control. There’s a lack of-- there’s a lack of sense of being punished if you do it. And we regard it at Reuters as, you know, a gross violation of media freedoms. I mean, these are journalists going about their job and being prevented doing so.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: During all the time I reported this story, I made numerous attempts to interview the Israeli army. They refused to discuss the shootings. So I went back to talk to Danny Seaman, the head of the Israeli press office. After all the violence of the past year, I found his attitude had hardened.

DANNY SEAMAN: I’m not worried about the press, freedom of the press. If there’s any limitations to it, it’ll be restored. Any freedom can be restored. The lives of Israelis cannot be restored.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: In times of war, Seaman says, press freedom cannot be the top priority.

DANNY SEAMAN: There’s a war against the state of Israel. There’s a war on the survival of the state of Israel by the Palestinians. There’s no comparison between the Palestinian uprising or violence of 12 years ago and what’s been going on in the past two years. The past two years has been an assault against the state of Israel. It’s combat.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: It has always been hard to report the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, hard to tell both sides of this bitter struggle. Now it’s going to be harder still, and the toll on journalists has been profound.

Nael Shyouki has moved away from Hebron, to Bethlehem, where there are no Israeli settlers and few clashes. He never did get his apology.

Danny Seaman took away his press card, along with all the other Palestinian journalists working in the West Bank.

NAEL SHYOUKI: I’m stuck in Bethlehem, nowhere to go. I’m wasn’t-- not free, like before. I used to work in Jerusalem and one day in Tel Aviv, and go to Ramallah. But that’s not anymore. You’re stuck in one place 24 hours, all the time. You can only work in this place. You cannot cover any other story outside.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: But for Mazen Dana, the loss is even greater. He is no longer a cameraman. His bosses at Reuters decided the only way to keep him safe was to take him off the street. He’ll be retrained as an editor.

MAZEN DANA: My family happy about this, but really, I’m not happy because I like camera and I like it here. When I want to leave camera, I want to leave it by myself, not to be forced to leave it.

PATRICIA NAYLOR: The group that recognized Dana’s bravery, the Committee to Protect Journalists, says this battle is only becoming more difficult to cover because the soldiers are sometimes violent, and the Israeli government restricts the media. Mazen Dana had no choice but to get out of the line of fire.

[Since we first broadcast this story, two cameramen working in the West Bank and Gaza have been shot and killed. Nazeh Darwazeh, Associated Press Television News, April 19, 2003. James Miller, British documentary filmmaker, May 2, 2003.]

ANNOUNCER: Finally tonight, Bhutan discovers cable TV.

Bhutan: The Last Place

Reported by Alexis Bloom

ALEXIS BLOOM, Reporter: [voice-over] Bhutan is a Himalayan kingdom tucked between China and India, a seemingly magical place that has for centuries secluded itself from the rest of the world, a place with no traffic lights and no fast-food chains, a country with more monks than soldiers, where it’s law to wear traditional dress in public places. This tiny country of less than a million people has guarded its culture from outside influence.

DAGO BIDA, Bhutanese Businesswoman: People who come here to Bhutan, they all fall in love with Bhutan. Why? Because we have a beautiful country. We have a rich tradition, rich culture, unspoiled. People who travel to Bhutan cannot believe that there is a country still left in the world which is almost untouched. And time and again, they’ve always told me, they said, "Don’t bring television into the country."

ALEXIS BLOOM: But in June, 1999, Bhutan did bring television into the country. After years of cultural protectionism, TV was legalized by royal decree, the last place on earth to hook up to the box. We found the man who the Bhutanese call the "cable guy," Rinzy Dorji. Just a few years ago, he hardly knew how a television worked.

RINZY DORJI, Co-Owner of SIGMA Cable: I thought, "How is it possible that pictures were just coming out there, without any tape being played there?" Then, of course, I tried to find out how it was coming, and this, that. Then I said it is a wonderful technology that is broadcasting from somewhere else and that everybody could see on the television set.

We are tuning the TV.

ALEXIS BLOOM: We watched Rinzy wiring up homes every day-- 45 channels for just $5 a month, everything from the BBC to Baywatch, all for the same price as a bag of dried red chilies.

But not everyone welcomes the new entrepreneurs.

KINLEY DORJI, Editor of Bhutan’s Only Newspaper: These are businesspeople. These are not even technicians, these are businesspeople who want to sell. And they will broadcast. They will show anything they want.

RINZY DORJI: There are good things, as well as bad things. But as a cable operator, I can’t selectively give programs because the demand is such that some parents would like to have some programs which are not good for others.

ALEXIS BLOOM: Rinzy invited us to his family home. In the back yard, five satellite dishes receive signals from all over the world. Beneath the living room, racks of receivers and decks have taken the place of traditional livestock. The family home has become central control.

RINZY DORJI: With this setting that we have at the moment, it’s good for 33 channels. Once we go on expanding, then we would require more space and more equipment and more racks.

ALEXIS BLOOM: But Rinzy’s mother-in-law was skeptical.

DAMCHOE DEM, Rinzy’s Mother-in-Law: [subtitles] At first I told them this venture was risky. "What if the people don’t want TV? How will you get your money back?" But everybody wants to watch TV, and I feel their business will do very well.

LYONPO JIGMI THINLEY, Bhutan’s Foreign Minister: I think people have suddenly realized that there are so many things that they desire which they were not even aware of before. And the truth is that most of these television channels are commercially driven. And so the Bhutanese people are, yes, driven towards consumerism. That’s inevitable. And that’s to some extent unfortunate, but inevitable.

NONO, Rinzy’s Eldest Son: When I come home from school, I change my clothes and go straight to the TV room and watch television. I watch Cartoon Network and check if there is wrestling in Star Sports. When it’s my exam time, I could not study because of thinking about the cartoon characters and the superstars of the wrestling.

TINTIN, Rinzy’s Youngest Son: [subtitles] When we had no TV, I used to play with my dog a lot, but now I prefer to watch television. When my elder sister puts on MTV, I jump up and try to switch it to the Cartoon Network.

DAMCHOE DEM: [subtitles] As I watch the events unfold on TV, I get carried away and lost. I forget to count my prayer beads. The mind is such a thing. Why wouldn’t the children find TV entertaining? Even we elders get engrossed and forget our religious duty.

KHENPO PHUTSHOTASHI, Buddhist Monk: Television introduced only last year. Everybody, one thing, is curious to see what is happening. They have never seen-- especially monks. They have never seen television in their life, so they are curious, you know, very much curious to know, "What is that?"

I noticed that the last week, when I was with my brother and watching television, so sometimes I forget my prayers things, like, you know? So sometimes it’s disturbing this TV, these kinds of TV. So I thought maybe better not to have myself.

KINLEY DORJI: Soon after television started, we started getting letters to the editor for the newspaper from children, children who seemed very hurt. The letters actually specifically asked about this World Wrestling Federation program. "Why are these big men standing there hitting each other? I mean, what’s the purpose of it?" They didn’t understand it. They were very hurt.

Now, a few months later-- one morning, I mean, a personal example, one of my sons, 7 years old, jumped on me early in the morning on the bed and he says, "Hey, I am Triple H. You can be Rock, and we are fighting." Suddenly, these were new heroes for our children.

[ More reactions from Bhutan]

LYONPO JIGMI THINLEY, Bhutan’s Foreign Minister: The government has requested the cable operators that they should, to the extent possible, exercise discretion on their part. But it’s easier said than done. With all these satellite dishes that are available, it will be difficult to control.

ALEXIS BLOOM: And so the light of 45 channels flickers, and the Bhutanese tune in to the rest of the world.

LYONPO JIGMI THINLEY: I have myself heard comments from people saying that, "My God, we didn’t know that we were living in such a peaceful country. There seems to be violence and crime everywhere around the world." So in a way, the positive thing is that Bhutanese people realize how good a life they are living in this country.



Orlando de Guzman


Margarita Dragon


Ben Gold


Egay Navarro


Peter Marquez


Joey Ayala


Keith Bacongco


Martin Smith

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(c) 2003




ANNOUNCER: [subtitles] There’s more of the world to explore on our Web site, including a timeline of U.S. involvement in the Philippines, a report on hazards facing journalists in Palestinian-controlled zones, and an interview with Bhutan’s cable guy. Discuss the world and tell us what you think of our Stories From a Small Planet at

Next time on FRONTLINE/WORLD: Venezuela, an oil supplier to the U.S. in turmoil over a controversial president.

REPORTER: She says Chavez is more important than God because he is the hope of the people.

ANNOUNCER: And in India, Osama bin Laden surfaces in a Bengali street opera.

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