AN INTERVIEW WITH
BBC WEST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT ELIZABETH BLUNT IN EARLY SEPTEMBER 1997
in the country have been having a tough time. They're been arrested and
detained and they complain of continuous harassment and intimidation by
the armed forces. Now our correspondent Victor Sylver has gone missing.
I asked our West Africa correspondent Elizabeth Blunt what she knew
about Victor Sylver's whereabouts:
Well I don't know anything about his whereabouts. He's been out of touch
today, but I've been told, I've been passed messages from other
journalists in Freetown that there were crowds of people out looking for
him last night - supporters of the regime and they were very threatening
and they were trying to find him and threatening to burn down his house
and I was told it was only the police coming along that stopped them so
I think he may have gone into hiding. There's been a lot of harassment
of journalists over the last day or two.
idea what Victor Sylver might have done to annoy people so much that
they'd be looking out for him and threatening to burn down his house?
not really. The one thing that was mentioned to me was his report for
Focus on Africa yesterday afternoon when he talked about seeing two
bodies yesterday as a result of the shelling. I think that was perhaps
mistakenly taken to mean that he was saying there were only two bodies
when clearly of course a lot more people than that were killed. But that
wasn't what he said at all. He simply said that he had seen two bodies,
at least himself. So if that is why they were looking for him, then that
seems to be a complete misunderstanding.
you understand that there is a sense of paranoia at the moment in
absolutely and its just not affecting journalists. Vigilante groups,
young supporters of the regime are going round and they are expecting
everybody very openly to say they support the military government,
anyone who doesn't come out and say that absolutely clearly and openly
is suspected of being in the opposition to them and a traitor to Sierra
believe that another journalist too has been feeling under pressure
other people's houses have been visited and I think it is particularly
difficult for journalists who are heard on the radio locally.
Correspondents like Victor of the BBC or the Voice of America, they're
much more in the firing line than others because people know them so
much better and hear them every day on the radio.
West Africa correspondent, Elizabeth Blunt.