Subject: AU: Band's return to Dili ends long journey - BIRTH OF A NATION

The Australian

May 15, 2002, Wednesday

Band's return to Dili ends long journey - BIRTH OF A NATION Iain Shedden * Music writer

PRIDE, goodwill and a sense of achievement will be sentiments running through Australian musician Paul Stewart's mind when East Timor's independence day celebrations get under way in Dili on Sunday.

But for Stewart, singer in the Melbourne-based Dili All Stars, the only Australian act to be asked to participate in the country's freedom concert, the occasion will also be one of remembrance. Stewart's brother, Tony, was one of the five Australian journalists killed at Balibo during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975. Stewart has campaigned for the country's freedom ever since, and this weekend marks the end of his 27-year battle.

"It's a closure on a long road," said Stewart.

"The first demonstrations we did in Melbourne back then, there were about 10 of us, with people throwing eggs at us. People didn't know where East Timor was. They thought it was in Africa. To go from that to being asked to play at this independence day celebration is a big step."

The Dili show has an extra significance for the four Australian-based East Timorese in the All Stars' line-up, particularly Gil Santos, whose father, a doctor, was killed in the invasion.

"This is what we have fought for all these years," Santos said, "so this is us going back for the ultimate day. It's an important step for everyone who believes in human rights."

The Dili All Stars, formed in 1996, were among the Australian acts in the 1999 Tour of Duty Christmas concerts in East Timor, playing shows that also featured Kylie Minogue and John Farnham. An All Stars song, Liberdade (Freedom), became an underground anthem in Dili, with cassettes of that and other protest songs by the group circulating in the region.


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