Short Biography Sander Thoenes

November 7, 1968, Sander is born in Enschede, the Netherlands, youngest of three brothers.

1975-1981 Primary School in Enschede

1981-1987 Secondary Education at Gymnasium St. Jacobuscollege in Enschede. Sander was editor of school paper "'t Komkommertje". Thanks to his excellent grades, he could apply for a scholarship in the USA.

Sander in San Francisco, where he did an internship during his studies

1987- 1992 Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. The first year at Hampshire College, Sander studied Liberal Arts on a scholarship.
After that, he was granted a second scholarship for another 3 years. He decided to stay, and studied English literature and modern Russian history. He learned to speak, read and write Russian fluently. Sander spent one semester as a trainee at the Centre for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco in the spring of 1990. He did another traineeship in Moscow in the autumn of 1991 at US News and World Report. The subject of his Division III Thesis was "Between Glasnost and a Free Press, Soviet Journalism in the Gorbachev years", on which he graduated in August 1992. As a student, Sander was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. McArthur ("genius") award, which he used to fund his Russian studies and some of his early career as a writer for the Center for Investigative reporting and elsewhere.

Sander with his diploma on Commencement Day at Hampshire College

1992-1995 Moscow

After his graduation, Sander went to live in Moscow to work for the Moscow Times, a pioneer English language newspaper. He walked into the "Battle of the White House" on which he reported in the Dutch weekly Vrij Nederland, and covered the process of change and chaos in the ex-USSR. The first time he went to Indonesia was during a holiday in 1994 with his girlfriend at the time, Angela. Sander reported from Chechenya in 1995. In that year, he also worked as a correspondent for US News and World Report.

Sander on the phone in Moscow

1996 Almaty, Kazakhstan
At the end of 1995, Sander went to Kazakhstan for a year as a correspondent of the Financial Times. He covered the Central Asian region, reporting from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Sander with H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan

1997 Transit

Having decided that his next station would be Indonesia, Sander went to take courses in Indonesian culture, contemporary history, and language in the Netherlands (Leiden University) during the first half of 1997.

In the summer of 1997 he spent some weeks at the Financial Times office in Brussels (EU affairs) and on the FT head office in London (World Desk).



In September 1997, Sander went to live in Jakarta to be FT's Indonesia correspondent. In two years, he not only wrote 608 articles for the Financial Times but also contributed regularly to the Christian Science Monitor (Boston, USA), Vrij Nederland (the Netherlands) and Radio Deutsche Welle (Germany). He covered the process of change and chaos following the downfall of dictator Suharto, from all over Indonesia. He also did some reporting for Marketplace, a radio program on National Public Radio focusing on national and international business.

Sander enjoying his last holiday in Thailand

In December 1998, he got to know Ian Nugrahane over the internet. Sander visited the Netherlands for the last time in April 1999, when his eldest brother got married. Sander was the best man at the wedding ceremony.

21 september 1999

Sander was killed by a gunshot in Dili, East Timor, covering the landing of the Interfet peace keepers.

Sander at work during the referendum in East Timor in September 1999