|TIMOR LOROSAE: THE SHACKLETON-COLEMAN LETTERS
Stephen Coleman, who claims to be a former Australian secret service agent, has attacked Shirley Shackleton with personal abuse in email messages through Joyo@aol.com following the AFP article with the heading WIDOW DEMANDS MURDER CHARGE AGAINST FORMER INDONESIAN MINISTER. Shackleton has asked for the correspondence to be made public.
Note: Here follows Shackelton-Coleman correspondence which has been received from both parties by Joyo in response to an AFP article sent out on April 26 under the heading: Widow demands murder charge against former Indonesian minister. As you can see, both Shackelton and Coleman have explicitly requested that Joyo send out the correspondence and post it on appropriate web sites. Joyo would like to take this opportunity to express regret over the personal nature of some of Coleman's comments, but Shirley Shackleton herself has requested that everything be made public. The original exchange appears at the end for reference. - Joyo@aol.com
From Shirley Shackelton, dated May 1, 2000:
Yes please, post both of my pieces in reply to Stephen Coleman's allegations on the web. I have asked some serious questions of him and feel he should be publicly challenged.
Dated 4/28/00 [Shackleton's second response follows Coleman's]:
Dear Joyo, Your correspondent [Joyo subsequently pointed out to SS that Coleman is not Joyo's 'correspondent'!] , Stephen Coleman doesn't seem to know much about my husband and his colleagues. To begin with they were killed in Balibo, not Bilbao. This is an astonishing mistake by one who alledges to have beeen a secret service agent.
Mr. Coleman's allegations against me are incorrect, but one made against the pilot of the plane that took the Channel 9 team in deserves to be challenged. What route precisely does Mr. Coleman think the aeroplane carrying the Channel 9 team took? Mr. Collison ( who originally made the allegation) has never given a satisfactory explanation. If the pilot flew from Darwin to Dili, why would he go to all the trouble to make a wide turn to fly over West Timor? Surely he would have chosen the shortest route and that would have taken him across Portuguese Timor and would therefore not have violated Indonesia's air-space. I would be grateful for an explanation from any of your members as there could be some strange reason for the pilot to have gone out of his way.
Dear Stephen Coleman,
I would really like to talk to you about your piece in my e.mail. Please either call me at [deleted by Joyo] or let me know where I can call you. Some of your statements are incorrect.
I don't mind what you or anyone else says about me so long as it is correct. I am most interested to know in what sense my actions to defend Greg's right not to be murdered is shameful. The information regarding the man you say was the killer is new to me and should be investigated. Please let me know the basis for your allegations that his name was Suharto. By the way the men were killed in Balibo, not Bilbao.
It doesn't matter what I think or what I believe, that is the point of my work - what matters is that the killings in Balibo and of Roger East are investigated at a judicial level. I hope you agree with me on this point and have the courage of your convictions,
April 28, 2000
Thank you for forwarding this message. My response is as follows but I would prefer that all of these communications are posted as I wish to keep this dialogue open in a public forum.
To Shirley Shackelton
Friday, April 28, 2000
I have no desire to talk to you either in person or by phone, having watched you over the past 25 years use the deaths of Australian, New Zealand and British television journalists to further your own position in what is obviously your cause celebre.
If you were an honest person, you would confront the accusations that the late Greg Shackleton had, in fact, commenced divorce proceedings against you.
I have in my possession a copy of a video tape of a TV program which not only features you, but another who stated that Captain Soeharto was the executioner of the first two journalists. For you to now make yet, again, the statement that you have never heard this claim made before, clearly shows that you have only one agenda; to project yourself as the weeping widow.
Why have you not ever challenged the ABC 7.30 Report which named Kerry Packer as being on board the vessel which hosted visits from the five? Why have you not pursued the issues concerning the illegal flight which carried the group into East Timor and why dont you just ask for copies of the ABC radio Australia broadcasts of that time which will clearly demonstrate that information gathered by the group actually resulted in the demise of some 700 Indonesian soldiers who were led into traps as they crossed the border, as a result of intelligence that was passed, innocently, by the Balibo Five to that mysterious vessel offshore?
(The half-Australian-Indonesian woman who, last month, was sacked as personal adviser to President Wahid of Indonesia, Ratih Hardjono, personally interviewed the ship's captain; I know for a fact that the application for the vessel was covertly submitted via the Australian Embassy's Naval Attache to avoid the offical clearance office's knowledge - this was run by a guy by the name of Kerry Collison, himself a former Australian Secret Service officer).
You are very naive - Australia and America condoned the Indonesian invasion. If you would spend a little time to understand why, your perspective would certainly be more objective.
In those six months in 1975 history will show that: a. The West lost Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia; b. Pol Pot started on his path of genocide; c. New Guinea became independent, offering a haven for OPM separatists; d. Indira Ghandi declared a state of emergency in India; and, e. East Timor was about to fall into leftist hands.
Amongst the above, obviously 'e' was the most important issue singularly. You would not , obviously, be aware that the Soviets placed heavy armaments and thousands of 'advisers' in Vietnam within months of the US withdrawal in 1975. I personally witnessed some of this; there were IL-28s suddenly on the airstrips in Vung Tau; in Cam Ranh Bay, the Soviet presence was massive. Overnight, Vietnam not only became a communist satellite, but threatened two very important economic and military considerations.
The first of these was the threat to the massive reserves of gas known to Houston Oil and Gas lobbyists; the island of Natuna strangely, belongs to Indonesia; but is only a few minutes from the south of Vietnam's Mig occupied airstrips; and, secondly, had East Timor achieved Independence at a time when the Soviet influence was gaining ground in S.E. Asia, there was little doubt that the Fretelin associated groups to be, would have thrown their lot with the Socialists and the United States would have lost one of its major military assets overnight - i.e., the access to the Ombai-Wetar Straits which, for the past thirty five years, has been used by the US Navy to secretly transit nuclear powered US submarines between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, saving up to eight days in steaming time. These submarimes are armed with Polaris and Trident Missiles which, from the deep trench, could hit any major target in Asia even after the withdrawal from Vietnam.
Couple with this, Australia had a pro-communist, socialist Prime Minister by the name of Gough Whitlam who, just four months later, was outsted from office. The new PM, Malcolm Frasier, immediately gave de jeurre recognition on behalf of the Australian and US whilst visiting Washington less than three months after assuming custodianship of the Australian government.
You will, no doubt, not recall the days surrounding the terrible disaster known as Cyclone Tracey. When Darwin was destroyed at Christmas, I can recall smiling when the ABC mentioned that a visiting US nuclear submarine pulled ropes in Sydney and went out to sea. That afternoon, an American nuclear submarine entered the devasted Darwin waters, tied up in the harbour, and offered power generated from its reactors, sufficient to drive the entire city. What Australians were not aware of is the fact that, at that time, due to the political leanings of the government (Whitlam and his leftists), Australia was not considered a trustworthy ally and, in consequence, according to Pentagon protocol, the US would not have more than one nuclear submarine in Australian ports at the same time.
The submarine that entered Darwin waters on 26th December 1974 came directly from the deep trench which touches East Timor. The Australian military heirarchy accept that, without this blanket protection by US submarines to Australia's north, there would be virtually no defence of the spares, underpopulated, northern Australian coastline.
Enter two teams of naive journalists who, in context, are but a small number of the many HUNDREDS of journalists who have died as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At the end of the day none of us would argue that their deaths should be condoned; journalists take this risk - your favourite resource, the former junior Australian Consul to Dili, an ex army corporal who used to be a desk clerk in the Victoria Barracks Defence Signals group before being shunted off, has also used the deaths of the journalists to further his own profile, suddenly an author with an empiric depth of knowledge concerning the East Timores and their history. One would have to ask the question as to why, as Consul, he appears not to have any knowledge of Kerry Packer's presence on board the vessel which, reportedly, acted as the communications relay station for the Ch-7 & 9 crews.
When this information was passed back to Canberra, reportedly, Dr. Jim Cairns (remember him? Deputy to the Prime Minister who called everyone comrade?) passed the intelligence received through the Defence Signals section, directly to Radio Australia in Melbourne who broadcast Indonesian troop positions back to the East Timorese - I listened to these broadcasts; they are a fact. If you have any problems with this Shirley, just submit a request under the Freedom of Information Act and you will have same from the ABC.
In short, the five were executed as they were perceived by the Indonesians as being a conduit for military intelligence information being re broadcast to the East Timorese resistance.
And, before you continue on your high horse - your own government, the Australians, and the Americans, condoned the Indonesian action.
As for Roger East - he lost his objectivity and armed himself with weapons, dressed in guerilla uniform and made it quite clear what his intentions were. I have no sympahty for him, just his distressed family. As for you, Shirl, time to be honest - you had never even heard of Timor let alone East Timor until you discovered that you were thrust into the limelight.
You are most incredibly, naive; the interview screened by SBS on Australian TV was biased in your favour as knocking Indonesia, at this time, has become a favourite pastime.
Greg Shackleton died doing what he thought was his job ; Channels 7 & 9 should have been sued by the dead journalists families as I am certain that none of the group were aware of the danger they were in with the presence of the communications vessel allegedly carrying Kerry Packer would bring them.
Response from Shirley Shackelton dated May 2, 2000:
Dear Mr. Coleman,
I have already replied to the allegations in your first e-mail to me, but as you don't seem to have understood, I'll repeat my response for you. Your personal attack on me is incorrect in every detail and irrelevant to the deaths in Balibo or to my work for a free East Timor. Hooray, they are free at last! Viva!
The first five journalists were murdered at Balibo in East Timor, not Bilbao in Catalonia!
I don't remember being on a tv program where anyone stated that Captain Suharto (please notice I spell the surname correctly. Soeharto is archaic and though I know General Suharto preferred his name spelt in the archaic way, it is incorrect and only used by those who are ignorant or trying to curry favour with the now defunct regime.) I am interested to know the facts of the tv program and would appreciate it if you could give them to me. I'm not doubting I was on this program, just admitting I don't remember it. There have been so many. By the way, may I suggest you don't use the term execution in relation to Roger East or the Balibo Five. It suggests some kind of formal proceedure was held and I have no reason to believe this was so. Are you suggesting that your information re Suharto killing two journalists came from the said tv program? Or do you have further factual information to add?
I reject your suggestion that Balibo has been a celebrated cause over the past 24 years. Indeed, it has been almost entirely forgotton and as far as Australian, American, English and Indonesian government agencies and politicians were concerned, it never happened.
I confess it is rather difficult to reply to someone who is as unsympathetc as you. I could score many points against you, but I don;t have the killer instinct. You evidently hate me and the work I have done and can see no redeeming features in that work. I want to believe you are who you say you are and not a member of the Indonesian military propaganda machine, so would you try to keep to facts and drop the personal insults please? It sullies your reputation, not mine.
I will agree with you that I was very naive in the beginning and I still prefer not to rush to make judgements. I actually believed that the Australian government would take steps to protect Australian citizens rights, especially when those citizens were murdered in a foreign country. Silly me.
I have tried to speak to Mr. Packer regarding the allegations you refer to. I was not successful. If you have facts on the subject, I invite you to post them on the net.
Since you accuse me of being a weeping widow I feel obliged to point out the fact that I have never wept in public and in fact cannot weep any more. I am an activist, the widow image was been created for me but not by me. I have always seen it as a way to denigrate what I do and an attempt to minimise my impact, but it doesn't seem to have been successful. Apparently, the public can see through obvious propaganda like that.
I have sent my response to your allegations regarding the illegal flight already. I t doesn't make sense to me, never did, but then I'm not a pilot. Please answer at your leisure.
Raj Hardjono should publish the interview with the captain of the ship my husband filmed on the coast. Please use your influence with her to do so. I will be the first to read it.
I have never heard about 700 soldiers being killed making an illegal crossing of the border. I assume you have evidence.
Yes to our shame, America and Australia condoned the invasion of East Timor. But that's not new, it has been public knowledge for two decades.
(e) For 24 years I have researched the allegation that East Timor was about to fall into leftist hands and on this matter you are wrong. It's part of Operasi Komodo propaganda and no-one believes it any more.
It wasn't the fact of the deaths that was and is so hard to come to terms with, it's the duplicitiousness of the government that tried to cover it all up.
Before Greg was murdered, I only knew Timor by its textiles; through Victory by Joseph Conrad; because Captain Bligh landed there after his amazing journey after the mutiny on the Bounty and because in WW2, Australia considered Timor to be the gateway to Australia and sent 2/2nd. and 2.4th Independant Companies there. So!
If your veiled and insulting remarks are about James Dunn, but for some reason you are afraid to face him and are using this forum to try to discredit his work, I agree he is a favourite author of mine. Indeed he wrote what I have always called The Bible on East Timor. Timor a People Betrayed is a very well researched and written book. It is compelling reading and top jounalists and academics admire and use it constantly.
I believe your information is flawed or you are jumping to conclusions regarding Roger East's clothing at the time he was seized and murdered. It seems Roger intended to wear uniform and defend himself in the mountains as indeed he would have had to do being an objective man and having seen what fate had in store for Australian journalists at the hands of Indonesian thugs) and he tried the gear on the night before the invasion. According to three eye witnesses he was wearing civilian clothing (jeans) when he was slain. You are too harsh in your criticism of Roger. He saw clearly that the fight was going to be unequal and decided to stay in order to send out reports. I think history will see him (does see him) as an inspiring hero.
I am really glad you have brought up this point about me 'being thrust into the limelight'. I was already in the limelight, I had my own small but satisfying tv show. If I had sought the limelight as you assert, I would have continued to build on that career and not given it up to work on a so-called lost cause like East Timor.
Just for the record and in case you can't answer this letter, I want a better 21st century and I don't believe we will get that until we send a message to the tyrants of this world and their henchmen that they cannot murder unarmed civilians and get away with it. Hence my determination to get a coronial enquiry followed by a full judicial enquiry into those deaths at Balibo and in Dili.
I'm told the Australia government considers me to be a trouble maker and that is where you will have got your information. You bet I am. They've made me; I'm their creation.
I have answered the criticisms you have directed at me honestly and suggest that concerns like yours only serve to demonstrate the need for a full judicial enquiry. It doesn't matter what I think, or what you think. It doesn't matter if you hate me or love me. It doesn't matter if you praise me or defame. What matters is how our two countries get on in the future. I believe in the rule of law. I hope you do too.
Sleep well, friend.
Here follows initial response from Coleman, which Joyo sent out on April 26 under heading: 'Former Australian Secret Service Agent on Bilbao Five Slayings'
NOTE: The following comment regarding Bilbao Five Slayings and Shirley Shackelton was sent to Joyo on April 26 by Stephen Cole of Melbourne, who claims he is former Australian Secret Service agent. Cole's comments are in response to an AFP article Joyo sent out yesterday titled: 'Widow demands murder charge against former Indonesian minister' [copied herein for ref. following Cole's comments]
If you are interested, please post this comment. I stand behind it as a former Australian Secret Service agent. It is time the truth was told so that we can bury the past.
That Shirley Shackleton has personally used the death of Greg Shackleton as her 'cause celebre' is not only sad, but shameful.
During the days leading up to Greg's departure by plane from Darwin, he had already served her with notice of intent to divorce. Shirley 'nailed' Greg when he was a very young and naive man, some ten years her junior.
The plane that carried the Australian (and NZ and British) news crews was, in fact, chartered to International Oil Co; this company has recently signed a contract of general exploration with PERTAMINA and the aircraft was provided by SAATAS (South Australian Aerial Taxi Service). The clearance for this aircraft was on a general monthly basis to take International Oil geophysicists and other personnel, into West Timor. The aircraft was 'borrowed' by the television crews, incredibly, approval given by the Australian Director of International Oil, Jakarta based Murray Clapham, a man who in Brian Toohey's expose of the Australian Secret Service, was named as the major on the ground Aussie spy commencing from the time he was operating during Soekarno's last years as an exchange student on Indonesian University campuses, until he made permanent official status in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, working for ASIS (Australia's Secret Service). (*refer to the book, OYSTER by B. Toohey).
The aircraft (SAATAS) which carried the tv crews violated the Geneva convention. Clapham violated the trust of the Indonesians. Strangeley, the Australian ABC 7.30 report, twenty years later, identified Australia's richest man and owner of the Channel 9, Kerry Packer, as being on the vessel just offshore Dili to assist with communications with the tv crews. (IT was also alleged that Clapham and Packer were former schoolmates)
The SAATAS aircraft flew from Darwin, over Inodnesian (AURI) build up and ADRI troops, reporting their positions. The aircraft's violation of scheduled routing was reported and Laksaman Muda (purnawirawan) Wiryosapoetro went to his partner in Jakarta, Kerry B. Collison, and advised him of the violations.
Why was this important that Collison know?
The answer lies with the fact that all non scheduled aircraft and shipping which passed through Indonesia at that time could only do so with a clearance signed by Collison's organization, appointed by DEPARLU, AURI, and DEPERHUD.
Collison's signature was forged by one, Michael Henry Winton. The clearance for the unscheduled vessel carrying Kerry Packer was cleared by the Austalian Embassy to avoid alerting others to the ship's presence but this soon became apparent to the Indonesian authorities and this too was passed to Collison.
The presence of the five tv crewmembers resulted in Indonesian troop strengths, positions and other military information being passed by hand held radio to the vessel, from where the information was encoded, sent to Canberra, then disseminated. Information was deliberately leaked to Radio Australia in Melbourne where it was broadcast to Asia on the regular service, providing the East Timorese resistance with substantial intelligence and enough to cause considerable damage to Indonesian troops as they crossed the border.
This is why the so called 'Balibo Five' were executed - but they were not killed by Yunus. The officer who shot the first two journalists unfortunately for all, bore the same name as the Indonesian president ....a common enough name in Java. The officer's name was Soeharto - and he was of no relation to the President.
Laksamana Wiryosapoetro once again asked Collison to inform the Australian Embassy (the Indonesians knew that Collison was 'conncected' because of his military background, language skills and position as one of the assistant defence attaches for three years). Collison reported the incident to the Embassy but the Secret Service sat on it for their own purposes.
Now we have Shirley Shackleton believing everything she hears and accepts what she claims to be evidence to further her own cause celebre."