|Subject: Open Letter to UN
Mr. Mohamed Othman
Dili, Timor Lorosae.
From Shirley Shackleton, activist for Timor Lorosae and widow of Greg
This letter is not an attempt to persuade you to issue international
warrants to arrest three men for the murders of five Australian-based
journalists in East Timor more than 25 years ago. My reason for writing is
to point out certain historical inaccuracies which are repeated in the
media. Trying to discover what happened in East Timor and in Balibo has
been like trying to put together a giant jigsaw puzzle with many pieces
Some people had some pieces and some people had others, until they
could make contact vital clues to the puzzle remained unknown.
Consequently, a great deal of propaganda and misinformation has become
part of the mythical history. I refer you to the fact that Operasi Komodo
was set up one year before the Balibo killings (October 1974) for the
express purpose of destabilising East Timor. Also Indonesia has retained
the services of Hill and Knowlton a public relations firm for many years.
In early February 1975 Indonesian troops carried out manoeuvres in South
Sumatra as pre-invasion exercises for East Timor. An Indonesian soldier
was captured soon after the failed coup in 1975. He had fallen during a
night attack and broken his legs. He told the commander of the Portuguese
garrison at Bobonaro that he believed that he was fighting in West Timor
1. There was no fighting in Balibo (16/10/75.) Falintil had wisely
withdrawn as they expected another attack. My husband and his colleagues
were unarmed civilians. Timorese witnesses to their fate were either
volunteers fighting with Indonesian soldiers under the political party UDT
or had been captured and forced to carry attacking soldiers' equipment.
Indonesian forces entered the village of Balibo firing, but there was no
2. The Balibo attack was not part of an invasion force as is often
stated. It was part of a series of offensives launched through Operasi
Komodo. On the morning of 16th October the attack was much larger than the
Timorese had previously experienced and included the whole border area
from Lebos to Balibo. If it had been part of an invasion, a massive
parachute drop would have taken place simultaneously in Dili, supported by
an attack on Baucau (particularly Baucau airport.)
3. The invasion of East Timor did not take place for another two months
(7th December 1975).
4. The Civil War so often used an excuse for the invasion, was not a
war at all. It was a coup masterminded by Operasi Komodo agents AND IT
FAILED. Nowhere else in the world has a similar event been described as a
Civil War. It was over in eleven days in Dili (though there were some
skirmishes along the border for another two days.) Less than 1500
casualties occurred. Many of were personal scores being settled during the
disturbances and had no political basis.
5. One of the named suspects, a Mr Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah, a former
Cabinet minister in the Habibie government, was an Indonesian Army captain
commanding an elite RPKAD (commando-special forces) unit called Team Susi
at the time of the killings. A Mr da Silva and a Mr Bere (two other
suspects) were members of the same unit. Mr. Yosfiah has repeatedly said
he is innocent. One would expect that he would welcome the chance to clear
his name. His story has changed over the years. Originally, he claimed he
was not in Balibo on 16th October 1975. Both the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation and SBS Broadcasting have film of photographs said to have
been taken on the morning of the killings in Balibo of Mr. Yosfiah who was
known at the time because he had posed as an aid worker in Dili. In the
photographs in question he is wearing what appears to be striped pajamas.
The evidence before you was painstakingly gathered over a seven-month
period. I believe it is significant that it was the Timorese themselves
who asked Mr. John Skeffington, a retired Western Australian policeman
seconded to CIVPOL to investigate the said killings. He claims not to have
even heard of Balibo or known about the deaths until then. After an
initial visit to Balibo he decided there was enough evidence to warrant an
investigation and set about doing the job in the same way such a matter
would be done in Australia. He arranged for aerial photographs to be taken
and made a detailed map of Balibo and its environs. He then interviewed
every adult resident of the destroyed township and found several
previously unknown eye witnesses to the murders. He sought an extension of
time to complete the work. The request was refused. Of course, there could
be many valid reasons for preventing Mr. Skeffington and his dedicated
staff from completing the work, but the refusal came as no surprise to the
bereaved families as it is typical of the way things have been done
regarding justice for the dead men.
We have been lied to and our intelligence has been insulted. I have
been vilified and defamed. My repeated requests for a full judicial
inquiry have been ignored. Though you will no doubt hear of two
'investigations' by a Mr. Sherman, both have been shown to be deeply
flawed by the International Commission of Jurists'. I believe this was
largely because they were not full judicial enquiries.
My mother-in-law committed suicide. It was not the death of her
wonderful son that caused her such despair, it was the patently obvious
lies told to her by her own government officials and the belief that the
world cared so little for justice, that nothing would ever be done.
Indonesia itself needs this matter to come to court as the country is
trying to establish a credible rule of law.
337 Dorcas Street South
Melbourne Australia 3205
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
Note: For those who would like to fax "the
powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software
application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge!
Download from http://www.v3inc.com/