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TIMOR-LESTE: Balibo remembers 40 years on

The children of Balibo lead prayers to remember five newsmen who were killed 40 years ago by Indonesian soldiers in Timor-Leste. Source: The Australian

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Item: 9459

BALIBO, Timor-Leste (The Australian/AAP/Pacific Media Watch): The people of Balibo in Timor-Leste marked Friday's 40th anniversary of the killing of Australian-based journalists by invading Indonesian soldiers with a quiet gathering outside the house where television reporter Greg Shackleton painted the Australian flag.

It is now a memorial to him and fellow journalist Malcolm Rennie, cameramen Gary Cunningham (from New Zealand) and Brian Peters, and sound recordist Tony Stewart.

A sixth journalist, Roger East, was killed in Dili on December 8, 1975.

Their killers have never been brought to justice.

On Friday night, the children came forward and lit an arc of candles in the sand around the house, before going to an outdoor screening of the film Balibo on the basketball court.

Also in the town on Friday was a group of men who had walked there from the capital of Dili; stopping at villages throughout the five-day journey to retell the story to locals.

One of the participants in the "walk against impunity", Sisto dos Santos, said it was not only the journalists' story, but the town's story, and important that it was passed to the children.

'Entrusting younger generation'
"Let them know the reality of what happened in the past," he said. "We entrust the younger generation.

"We believe in them to continue the struggle for truth and justice.

"This is the testimony of Indonesian involvement in crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste."

The families of the Balibo Five say they never got a satisfactory explanation for the Australian Federal Police closing their investigation for war crimes last year.

At a dawn ceremony in Canberra on Friday, they argued that 40 years of Australian government silence had given the killers impunity.

An Indonesian foreign affairs spokesman this week maintained the five men died in accidental circumstances, and said the matter was closed.

Balibo township forever proud of its newsmen martyrs

Walk against Impunity blog

Balibo House Trust

The house wall that Greg Shackleton painted in Balibo 40 years ago. Image: Walk Against Impunity Blog

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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