Subject: Ex-police officer says 5 newsmen were intentionally killed
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 18:02:25 +0100 (BST)
PRESS RELEASE 27 August 1998 For immediate release
Former Timorese police officer testifies that Indonesian army intentionally killed TV newsmen in East Timor in October 1975
A former East Timorese police officer in Balibo, East Timor has told TAPOL that the Indonesian military authorities knew that five TV journalists from Australia were present in Balibo at the time they attacked the village and were intent on killing them.
His testimony confirms the conclusions reached by an inquiry undertaken by the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists and published earlier this week by the Sydney Morning Herald that there was a 'deliberate intention on the part of the (Indonesian) military force which set out from nearby Batugade to kill the journalists in Balibo'. The five journalists had gone to Balibo to verify reports that the Indonesian army was conducting incursions across the border into East Timor. The five men, two Australians, two Britons and a New Zealander, were killed in Balibo on 16 October 1975.
Manuel dos Santos who now lives in exile in Portugal, was sub-chief of police and head of immigration in Balibo from December 1974 until August 1975 when he fled across the border to Atambua, an Indonesian town in West Timor. He said: 'Two or three days before the attack on Balibo, the Indonesians had a list of eight people they wanted to kill in Balibo (including) the five newsmen.'
He said that Fretilin who were in control of East Timor at the time had broadcast the fact that the five newsmen were near the border alerting the Indonesians to their presence and their intentions to disclose what was happening along the border.
Mr dos Santos was interviewed by Tom Sherman, a senior Australian official who undertook an investigation into the killings in 1996, at the request of the then foreign minister Gareth Evans, but none of his testimony was used in the Sherman Report.
The latest evidence published this week in Australia refutes Indonesian claims, upheld by the Australian and British governments, that the newsmen were killed in crossfire. The ICJ report says that three senior Indonesian officers who were responsible for the events in Balibo, including Lt-General Yunus Yosfiah who is now Minister of Information in the Habibie government, should be brought before an inquiry.
Pressure is now growing on the British government to initiate an inquiry into the deaths of the two Britons, Brian Peters (cameraman) and Malcolm Rennie (reporter), who had gone to East Timor for Australia's Channel 9.
Note to editors: Manuel dos Santos can be contacted for interviews through Sergio Duarte (phone: 0171 431-0184), who interviewed him in Lisbon on TAPOL's behalf.
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh