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#65238 - 19 Nov 07 12:10 Balibo Redux
riccardo Offline

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
As most of you may have read, an investigation of the Balibo massacre has finished and it is now up to the Australian Attorney General to prosecute the murderers and the liars. Two of the key people involved, that are still alive and active in Indonesian politics are Sutiyoso and Yunus Yosfiah (see photos from my book collection below article -- note: Batugade is a few klicks from Balibo and was taken a week before the journos were murdered.) By the way, I've seen very little in the RI media about this major decision. But government officials (when asked by int'l journos), continue to deny guilt, maintain that the "case is closed" and shamefully lie by saying there is "no new evidence." There is actually a mountain of new evidence.

The Balibo atrocity

November 19, 2007
It has taken a NSW deputy coroner to tell Australians the truth that successive federal governments hid for 32 years.

Dorelle Pinch confirmed that five Australian newsmen were murdered in cold blood by Indonesian forces during the invasion of East Timor in 1975.

We knew this for decades from a variety of sources, but not officially.

The failure of government for reasons of political expediency to inform the families when it immediately knew of the executions at Balibo village has only prolonged and deepened their pain.

The Whitlam government knew the men's fates within 24 hours, but colluded to hide the atrocity for diplomatic and security reasons.

Relatives deserve an official apology.

The deaths of Brian Peters, Greg Shackleton, Tony Stewart, Gary Cunningham and Malcolm Rennie were magnified in thousands by killings of East Timorese by Indonesia's military.

Australia quietly betrayed people who helped our Diggers in World War II.

It took until the crisis of 1999 for Australia to finally intervene. As recently as 2001, Indonesians harassed border posts.

Prime ministers, particularly Gough Whitlam, come out of this shameful appeasement of the Suharto dictatorship with their places in history diminished.

What is most disturbing today is that bureaucratic cover-up remains inherent in our national life, secrecy implemented in 500 pieces of legislation, as the new Australia's Right to Know coalition has identified.

Ms Pinch found strong circumstantial evidence that Indonesian special forces commanders Maj-Gen Benny Murdani and Colonel Dading Kalbuadi ordered the murders.

Those men are dead but the captain who allegedly supervised the crimes, Yunus Yosfiah, is alive. This former Indonesian information minister is still in parliament.

Indonesia sticks to the lie the men were killed in crossfire, so Australia would have to pursue Yosfiah and other culprits for war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the police and Director of Public Prosecutions would look at the inquest findings.

Whoever wins the election must try to bring the culprits to justice, in good faith.

That is not too much to ask for, but given the past cowardice of Australian governments it may be too much to hope for.


From the book entitled "Eyewitness to Integration" by ABRI photo/media/PR guy Hendro Subroto:


Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

#65240 - 19 Nov 07 12:43 Re: Balibo Redux [Re: riccardo]
riccardo Offline

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Here's an article with more of the details of the recently completed inquest:


THE Balibo Five were deliberately killed to prevent them from exposing Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, a NSW coroner has found.

Deputy State Coroner Dorelle Pinch said there was sufficient evidence that the killing the five Australian journalists - Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart - constituted a war crime, and a brief would be forwarded to the federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock, who has jurisdiction to prosecute such matters.

"The Balibo Five died at Balibo, in Timor Leste on 16 October 1975, from wounds sustained when (they) were shot and or stabbed deliberately, and not in the heat of battle, by members of the Indonesian special forces, including (Commander) Christoforus Da Silva and Captain Yunus Yosfiah on the orders of Captain Yosfiah to prevent (them) from revealing that Indonesian special forces had participated in the attack on Balibo," Ms Pinch said.

"There is strong circumstantial evidence that those orders emanated from the head of the Indonesian Special Forces, Major General Benny Murdani, to Colonel Dading Kalbuadi, Special Forces Group Commander in Timor, and then to Captain Yosfiah."

Ms Pinch said Indonesian General Benny Murdani was aware of internal political problems in Australia at that time, and likely arranged the invasion of East Timor to capitalise on this.

Today's findings from Ms Pinch follow eight weeks of evidence on the death of Mr Peters, a Briton who lived in NSW, and his colleagues.


Official reports have long maintained the five men were killed in crossfire during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.

But evidence to the inquest said the Indonesian army had been tracking the journalists and official orders were given for them to be executed.

Three were shot dead, another was attacked in the town square and a fifth was stabbed after being forced from a bathroom where he was hiding.

For more than three decades, the families of the five men have been attempting to correct the "historical falsehood" that the men were accidentally shot.

Ms Pinch said there was "indisputable evidence" the Indonesian army knew the Australian newsmen were in Balibo and it was "inconceivable" this was not factored into its plan of attack.


Ms Pinch made two formal recommendations, namely that the Australian government urgently liaise with the families to facilitate repatriation of the Balibo Five's remains, and for development of a national, industry-wide safety code of practice for journalists.

In Jakarta, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo said this morning the coroner's finding would not change its account of the killings.

"It will not change Indonesia's stance that for us it is a closed case and we are still in the position that they were killed because of crossfire between conflicting sides at the time.

"Whatever the coroner's recommendation, it will not change Indonesia's position on that."

During the inquest, witnesses said Captain Yosfiah led the charge into Balibo town square and was first to open fire, despite apparent attempts by the journalists to surrender.

After their deaths, the Balibo Five were dressed in military uniforms to make them look like combatants, being incinerated in the house where they were staying.

Ms Pinch today said burning the bodies had been an attempt to disguise the manner of their deaths.

Soldiers smeared the blood of the newsmen over a makeshift Australian flag, which had been painted on the outer wall of the house in an attempt to declare their neutrality.

Former intelligence officers told the inquest that intercepted Indonesian radio traffic showed the army had been watching the journalists, who travelled to, and remained in, Balibo despite numerous warnings from Fretilin and other journalists.

Commonwealth officials who visited the Shoal Bay receiving station of the Defence Signals Directorate in 1977 told Ms Pinch they had seen an intercepted Indonesian radio message that read: "As directed or in accordance with your instructions, five journalists have been located and shot."

The message, dated October 16, has never been seen again.

A further message, the following day, had said: "Among the dead are four white men. What are we going to do with the bodies?"

Office of Current Intelligence (OCI) analyst Gary Klintworth, who had been processing the Indonesian intercepts, told the inquest he knew immediately that the journalists had been killed.

He had prepared an intelligence briefing, but had been ordered to destroy it by deputy OCI chief John Bennetts.

The inquest heard there was tacit agreement from Australia for the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, provided the news was not made public.

If it were, Australia would have had to formally object, and international condemnation would probably have followed.
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

#65318 - 21 Nov 07 09:12 Re: Balibo Redux [Re: riccardo]
riccardo Offline

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
An article/opinion by Damien Kingsbury...


A fight with Indonesia neither Howard nor Rudd wants

Damien Kingsbury
November 20, 2007

THE finding by the NSW deputy state coroner that the five Australia-based newsmen killed at Balibo, East Timor, in 1975 were murdered by the Indonesian military has the potential to again derail Australia's often fraught relationship with Indonesia. It has also injected a foreign policy consideration into an election campaign that has been largely bereft of foreign policy debate.

Prime Minister John Howard's comment that he will seek the repatriation of the remains of the five newsmen looks, at best, like a minimal effort to placate their families, even if decades too late.

But neither he nor pro-Indonesia Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd will get tough with Indonesia. Neither wants the complication of dispute with Indonesia in their election campaigns, and neither wants it in government.

Yet if war crimes charges are formalised, whoever is in government will have to handle the flak generated from an Indonesia that regards the Balibo five case, like so much else of its brutal history, as closed.

Like the Indonesia-East Timor "truth and friendship commission" that was roundly rejected by the international community as a whitewash, with little truth and imposed "friendship", Indonesia now wants the claim that the newsmen were killed in a crossfire to remain the official "truth".

Should charges go ahead, there is little Australia can do to press the case. There is no extradition treaty between Australia and Indonesia so Australia's meaningful capacity to pursue this matter is limited.

The Indonesian Government will also not go outside its own judicial process to hand over alleged war criminals, regardless of international procedures.

Within Indonesia, accounting for the past is set against what was, and which to some extent remains, a culture of impunity. In short, there are so many individuals guilty of so many crimes that a full accounting is next to impossible, especially given Indonesia's still malleable judiciary. Further, while Indonesia's military is politically weakened, it still retains influence. Importantly, it can count on allies within Indonesia's fractious legislature who will oppose any war crimes trial on narrow political grounds.

From Australia's perspective, whoever forms the next government will have to watch more or less helplessly as the judicial process takes its course. It will then be left to explain to an angry Indonesia that the separation of powers means that there is no executive capacity to influence judicial processes. Indonesia should understand the separation of powers, given it has used the same claim in recent trials of Australian citizens. But some in Indonesia are unlikely to accept that position at face value, as they did not accept the legitimate acceptance as refugees of the 43 Papuan asylum seekers.

Australia's relationship with Indonesia has been characterised by regular diplomatic rows, and many observers believe that this is a sign of consistently poor relations. These rows have continued despite frequent claims that the relationship is strong. It is possible for Australia and Indonesia to have more secure and consistent relations.

Australia needs to say to both the Indonesian Government and people that it wants to have a positive and constructive relationship, and that it is there as a friend. It must explain that real friendships are based on honesty and transparency.

There is a claim that Australia and Indonesia clash over what amounts to cultural difference, and that frankness is not appreciated by Indonesian politicians. The lack of appreciation was certainly true, although it much less reflected culture than it did the untrammelled abuse of power. As Indonesia democratises, it is learning that transparency and accountability are a part of that process.

It may be that no Indonesians will ever stand trial in Australia, or Indonesia, or East Timor, or elsewhere, for war crimes. But it would be useful for the Indonesian Government to finally admit that those crimes were committed, against their own citizens as well as ours, and that they should never happen again.

Associate Professor Damien Kingsbury is associate head of the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University.
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.


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