Subject: Open East Timor graves, says Balibo widow

also Balibo Five widow Shirley Shackleton visits husband's grave for first time,

Balibo widow speaks out against film censorship

Open East Timor graves, says Balibo widow

Stuart Rintoul

The Australian * July 10, 2010 12:00AM

AS Australia tried to shift its refugee problem to Timor, Shirley Shackleton went to what might be her husband's grave for the first time.

After visiting the grave, in which the charred remains of the Balibo Five, including her late husband, Greg Shackleton, are supposed to be in a small box, she told The Weekend Australian: "I can't be honestly upset because there may be nothing in there.

"It's dreadful to have that uncertainty. It's cruel not to know.

"I don't know what's in there and neither does anyone else, except the people who colluded to hide them away in Jakarta."

Ms Shackleton said attempts to have the remains, which were burned three times, repatriated to Australia had been blocked "because the government is unable to tell the truth". She called for the graves to be dug up. "Five human beings in a shoebox in a coffin sounds bogus to me, and I demand to know what's there."

Ms Shackleton said she was incensed by Julia Gillard's attempts to turn East Timor into a refugee camp, saying the East Timorese should have nothing to do with the plan. "The Timorese are used to being bullied by Australian government officials," she said.

In Melbourne, Balibo filmmaker Robert Connolly said he was "stumped" that the Woodside resources company could resist processing natural gas in East Timor, but the Australian government thought it was a suitable place for a refugee centre.

Connolly will speak at a Journalism on Screen film festival in Melbourne next week, hosted by the Centre for Advanced Journalism and The Australian.


Balibo Five widow Shirley Shackleton visits husband's grave for first time

* From:AFP, The Australian

* July 09, 2010 5:30PM

THE widow of one of the Balibo Five has paid her first visit to his grave, 35 years after the death of the five newsmen in East Timor.

Shirley Shackleton, 78, sat today beside the grave in a Jakarta cemetery which holds the remains of her husband Greg Shackleton, together with those of Brian Peters, Gary Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie and Anthony Stewart.

The five were killed on October 16, 1975, and their bodies burned after they filmed an attack on Balibo by Indonesian soldiers.

Their remains were buried in Jakarta by the Australian government, and now lie together below a single black headstone in a well-tended cemetery.

Ms Shackleton, who lives in Melbourne, has campaigned for years to learn the truth of how her husband died.

Jakarta has always maintained the five died in crossfire as Indonesian troops fought East Timorese Fretilin rebels.

However NSW deputy coroner Dorelle Pinch found in 2007 that the Balibo Five were executed by Indonesian special forces to stop them from revealing details of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.

Her finding sparked an Australian Federal Police war-crimes investigation into the murders.

Invited by Indonesia's Alliance of Independent Journalists, Ms Shackleton was in Jakarta to testify at a hearing challenging Indonesia's banning of the movie Balibo, which portrays the five being executed by Indonesian troops.

Indonesian government censors banned the movie last year, saying it failed to show an Indonesian perspective and it would strain relations with Australia.


The Jakarta Post

Friday, July 9, 2010

Balibo widow speaks out against film censorship

Arghea Desafti Hapsari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

More than three decades have passed since Shirley Shackleton heard the devastating news that her husband, a journalist covering the conflict in then East Timor, was killed.

But Shackleton, now 78, still embraces every opportunity given to her to seek out the truth behind the tragedy.

This is not just about vengeance. This is about accountability. That’s the justice I want,” she said Thursday, minutes before entering a courtroom in Jakarta where she testified on the banning of the film Balibo.

The controversial film was banned last year by the Film Censorship Board (LSF). It recounts the story of five journalists who were killed during the invasion of the town of Balibo in East Timor — Timor Leste as it was known before independence from Indonesia — in 1975.

Both the Indonesian and Australian governments have always maintained that the journalists died in crossfire between the Indonesian Army and the East Timorese Fretilin rebels. Investigations into the case, however, have alleged Indonesian forces were behind the deaths.

I want [the perpetrators] to be given the right to clear their names in a court of law. They have that basic right. No one has ever asked them to account for their actions. They deserve the right that I’ve got here today by coming to appear in court,” Shackleton said.

She told the court she believed her husband was murdered after surrendering to Indonesian troops. Shackleton said she was convinced by evidence given to an Australian inquest on the deaths of her husband and his colleagues.

It found that their arms were in the air, giving themselves up. They were not armed and were wearing civilian clothes and the perpetrators of this atrocity were members of [the Indonesian military],” she added.

She said she “supported the cause of the film Balibo because they’ve reached their objectives to clarify the lies and the cover up. In good Aussie slang the cat is out of the bag”.

The ban on the film has sparked heated debate on how well democracy and the freedom of expression is implemented in the country.

The LSF banned the film on the grounds that it depicted violence and that the film only used Australian and Timor Leste sources, a matter that concerned the Indonesian government. The film tells a story of the Timor Leste’s fight for independence under Indonesian oppression during the New Order regime.

The military is especially sensitive on the topic.

LSF legal division head Tedjo Baskoro said after Thursday’s hearing that Balibo could also hurt the relationship between Indonesia and Australia.

It opens old wounds,” he said.

Shackleton lamented that the Indonesian government was not dealing with its past sins.

They’ve kept it hidden away by banning [the film]. So the people took over, which is another good step in the way of democracy,” she said.

The case, she added, was “important to establish whether democracy is alive and well in Indonesia”. The censorship destroyed all the credibility of a country wishing to be part of the free world,” Shackleton told The Jakarta Post.

During the hearing, a representative from the LSF asked Shackleton, who claims to have watched the film many times, if she saw sadistic footage in the film. Shackleton, who was accompanied by an interpreter, said yes.

After the session, however, she learned that her interpreter had mistakenly used the word “violent” and not “sadistic”.

I think the film does show violence but it was nowhere near sadistic,” she said, adding that she would write the court to inform them of the mistake.

Back to July Menu 
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu