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Balibo, 32 years of Australian Cowardice
by peptide Tuesday, May 29 2007, 10:00pm
international / peace/war / commentary

The infamous Balibo murders perfectly illustrate Australian cowardice and Indonesian barbarity. It should be stated from the outset that the truth of the cold-blooded murder of the Balibo five has been known since the day of the crime in 1975. The cringing attitude displayed by successive Australian governments toward the barbaric Indonesians has made Australia a laughing stock in Asia. All successive Labor and Liberal governments that perpetuated the lie of a tragic accident (caught in a cross-fire) are guilty of criminal suppression of the truth and criminal collusion with the murderers -- grubby oil deals notwithstanding.

Gareth Evans and Whitlam
Gareth Evans and Whitlam

The Timor Gap Treaty, negotiated to a large extent by former Labor minister Gareth Evans, could ill-afford a scandal involving high ranking officials in the Indonesian government and military, all embarrassing and incriminating material relating to the murders would henceforth be backgrounded -- justice, national pride and identity have not recovered since.

The statement, “assurances were given ...” made by Jakarta Governor (former General) Sutiyoso, following an alleged illegal entry into his Sydney hotel room by local authorities refers less to the current Australian government than it does to previous Labor and Liberal governments; indeed, assurances were given that no flak would come of the cold-blooded murder of five innocent Australians in Balibo – that was before Australia’s recent oil and gas deals with occupied Timor Leste.

Is late better than never when the truth has been suppressed for so long? Thirty-two years after the event the coroners inquest finally discovers grounds for criminal prosecution! While relatives and other involved parties may derive some comfort from the coroner, justice will never be served, as the perpetrators are safe in Indonesia. So much for the coroner’s political proceedings! However, the present gambit between Australia and Indonesia would indicate that the deputy sheriff may have received an order from the sheriff – time will no doubt reveal the nature of the ingredient in Australia’s new courage potion, leopards do not change their cringing, cowardly spots overnight!

The hotel room ‘encounter’ resulting in the hurried return of former General Sutiyoso to the safety of Indonesian soil where he rallied support and demanded an apology is probably less amusing than Howard pooping his pants at the sight of president Yudhoyono but it is amusing nevertheless. The president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono continues to amuse dinner guests by recounting how he surprised a “visibly shaken” John Howard on his early morning walk!

Regardless of the circumstances that led to the new ‘brave heart’ Australia, the new posturing is a refreshing change from the money laundering junkets to Christmas Island by corrupt Indonesians laden with suitcases of cash – hundreds of millions were legitimised via an excised casino on the island, courtesy of a former Labor prime minister, Paul Keating!

It should now be clear to both governments that a future war is inevitable, the race by both nations for nuclear ‘power’ has been noted.

Yudhoyono and Howard, eyeballing
Yudhoyono and Howard, eyeballing


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Australia coy on apology to Indonesian governor
by Reuters via rialator - Reuters Wednesday, May 30 2007, 8:16am

CANBERRA, May 31 (Reuters) - Australia's government said on Thursday it understood why a senior Indonesian official felt humiliated by a run-in with Sydney police earlier this week, but an apology would be a matter for state government officials.

Indonesia has lodged a formal diplomatic protest after the governor of Jakarta, former General Sutiyoso, was served with a New South Wales state police summons to attend a coroner's inquest into the 1975 deaths of five journalists in East Timor.

Sutiyoso cut short an official visit to Australia, saying two officers barged into his hotel room on Tuesday while he was sleeping and asked him to sign an invitation to testify in the inquest.

"Australians have to understand the concept of humiliation in Indonesia. As the Indonesians would see it, this is an enormous humiliation for a major Indonesian figure," Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Australian radio.

In a bid to avert a full-scale diplomatic row between the two at-times prickly neighbours, Downer telephoned Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda on Wednesday and promised to investigate the matter.

But it was not up to Canberra to issue an apology for what Indonesia has called "rude and inappropriate" treatment of a senior figure, Downer said.

"He wasn't the guest of the federal government, he was the guest of the NSW government, so I think at the next stage it might be more appropriate for the NSW government to make contact with their guest," he said.

Sutiyoso, who served as a captain in East Timor at the start of Indonesian occupation of the territory, said he was angry at his treatment while in Australia on an official invitation.

"I refused to sign it. I told them I have nothing to do with the case," he told reporters, adding the police officers had obtained a master key from the hotel.

The Sydney inquest into the death of the five Australia-based journalists has heard they were deliberately gunned down by Indonesian soldiers.

In final submissions to the inquest, Mark Tedeschi, the counsel assisting the coroner, said the five journalists were killed in Balibo in East Timor to stop them reporting news of Indonesian military actions.

Official Indonesian reports have blamed the deaths of the five newsmen on Oct. 16, 1975 on crossfire, as Indonesian forces entered East Timor in an incursion ahead of a full-scale invasion of the territory in December of the same year.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry has warned any adverse findings from the inquiry will be ignored and will only serve to damage the fragile bilateral relationship.

© 2007 Reuters

COVER-UP -- the inside story of the Balibo Five
by Jill Jolliffe via rialator Wednesday, May 30 2007, 10:16am

[What follows is blatant advertising, however, the Editors have made an exception to publishing guidelines in this instance:]

This book reveals the previously hidden details of one of the most shameful episodes in Australia’s history. The result of over twenty years of personal investigations and tireless research, Cover-Up provides a unique first-hand account of the deaths of the five young television reporters who were killed by the Indonesian military as they filmed the advance of Indonesian infantry troops into the East Timor border town of Balibo in October 1975.

This book tells their personal stories, and of their families’ heart-breaking struggle for the truth. Jill Jolliffe argues that the Australian government was always aware of the circumstances of the killings, and that its cover-up was a key factor in Indonesia’s decision to invade and occupy East Timor, and its subsequent long reign of terror.

In Cover-Up, the author’s quest to identify and indict the Balibo killers is intertwined with East Timor’s recent tragic history. In following their trail, Ms Jolliffe uncovers evidence of another massacre in which hundreds of innocent villagers were machine-gunned years later. Part memoir, part history, this searing book is as much an investigation of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor as it is a case study of the Balibo killings.

Extracts from recent reviews:

'In this detailed and compelling account, Jolliffe brings to the story a unique authority, as she has covered the Timor story for 26 years … The story of the families' years of unresolved grief, told here for the first time, is a shocking and disgraceful one … Jolliffe tells, at long last, the story the Balibo five obtained but were unable to report.'
—Tom Hyland, The Age

'She has gone to impressive lengths to track down those involved officially or unofficially in the events at Balibo, despite Indonesian and United National rules that denied her offical entrance to East Timor for 24 years.'
—John Graham, The Canberra Times

'In Cover-Up, Jolliffe follows the Balibo story from the outset. She painstakingly documents the investigations of the deaths and the machinations by the Australian and Indonesian governments to keep truth hidden. This book presents evidence concerning the killings of the journalists (including allegations against Indonesia's former information minister Yunus Yosfiah) and, perhaps more importantly for Australian readers, details about Australian officials who continued to lie while knowing full well what happened.

'Jolliffe draws links between those responsible for the deaths of the Balibo Five and their involvement later in some of Timor's worst massacres. It is an important work. This should be essential reading to anyone who defended Australia's pre-September 1999 policy on Timor or, for that matter, anyone contemplating a career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.'
—John Martinkus, The Bulletin

'Jolliffe has a long association with East Timor and the independence movement. She was in East Timor when the Balibo incident occured, and met the Balibo Five. Their deaths deeply affected her. Over the years, she has maintained an unwavering commitment to bringing out the truth about what happened to them on that mid-October morning.

'Ever since the invasion of Dili on December 7, 1975, when she was the last journalist to leave, Jolliffe has been meticulously assembling evidence of how the newsmen met their end, and who was responsible.

'This book brings all her evidence together. The centrepiece is the most comprehensive collection so far of interviews of East Timorese with links to the Balibo incident, which highlights the abundance of evidence available for the prosecution of those responsible, among them Captain Yunus Yosfiah (now a retired lieutenant-general), and a Kopassus (special forces) sergeant, Christoforus da Silva. Interwoven with this extraordinarily detailed work are strands of a personal memoir.'
—Jim Dunn, The Sydney Morning Herald

'Moving in its scope and its portrayal of injustice, meticulous in its detail, Cover-Up has become all the more important to read to understand the role that terror has and continues to play in an increasingly frightening world.'
—Joel Becker, Australian Bookseller & Publisher

Jill Jolliffe has been following the Balibo Five story for 26 years. She witnessed the first incursions of Indonesian regular troops into the territory in September 1975, reported on the death of her five colleagues at Balibo in October, and was evacuated from Dili by International Red Cross four days before Indonesian paratroopers attacked the capital on 7 December 1975.

In 1978 Ms Jolliffe moved to Portugal, where she continued to follow the East Timor story and to work as a correspondent for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and the BBC, among others. She now lives in Darwin and reports regularly from East Timor.


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