Subject: RI Dismisses 'Balibo Five' Film as ‘Fiction'

also Balibo 'case closed': Indonesia

The Jakarta Post [web site]

July 24, 2009

RI Dismisses 'Balibo Five' Film as 'Fiction'

by Ary Hermawan

Indonesia dismissed as fiction the recently premiered Australian film describing the murder of five Australian journalists by the Indonesian Army during the 1975's war in East Timor, saying the so-called "Balibo Five" case was closed.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah also downplayed the impact of the film on bilateral relations between Jakarta and Canberra, which he said had already officially stated the five journalists had not been murdered, but accidentally killed in crossfire when Jakarta was fighting the Fretilin rebels.

They [the five journalists] were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Faizasyah said.

Directed by Rob Connolly, Balibo is to be premiered Friday at the Melbourne International Film Festival. In the film, the five journalists were murdered by the Indonesian Military to keep the news of the invasion from spreading outside Indonesia.

"It's quite clear the journalists were murdered," Connolly said, as quoted by AFP.

We have to look at the case according to the facts, not a film script...Is the film based on facts, or on the filmmaker's imagination? We consider the film as fiction," Faizasyah said.

Indonesia will not protest the airing of the film in Australia and has not decided whether it will ban it from being aired here, Faizasyah said. "We cannot ban people from making films, otherwise the film industry will die."

A documentary film on the plight of a Chinese Uighur leader, alleged to have incited the worst race riots in China last month, was also screened at the festival to the ire of Beijing, currently in a row with Canberra over the Rio Tinto spy case.

The Chinese government failed to block the screening of the documentary, but Chinese filmmakers canceled their participation in the festival to protest the documentary's screening.


Balibo 'case closed': Indonesia

By Adam Gartrell, South-East Asia Correspondent

JAKARTA, July 24 AAP - The new feature film about the Balibo Five may stir up fresh controversy in Australia, but as far as Indonesia is concerned it's case closed.

Robert Connolly's film, which depicts Indonesian troops murdering the five ustralia-based journalists in the East Timor border town of Balibo in 1975, will open the Melbourne International Film Festival on Friday.

The film's release comes nearly two years after NSW deputy coroner Dorelle Pinch found Indonesian forces deliberately killed the journalists to cover up their invasion of East Timor.

The inquest dismissed claims by successive Australian and Indonesian governments that Greg Shackleton, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart were accidentally killed in crossfire.

The film has reignited debate about the killings and hopes it will lead to legal action against the alleged leader of the attack team, Yunus Yosfiah.

Yosfiah, who is now a politician, has repeatedly declined to comment on the film's release and could not be contacted on Friday.

But Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah was maintaining the crossfire explanation.

"The film may stir some controversy in Australia," he told reporters.

"But for us, it's a finished problem, case closed."

Indonesia regarded the film as a work of fiction, he said.

"Because the fact is the Australian government itself has stated it was an accident, that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Controversy stemming from the film would not harm bilateral relations between the countries, he said.

"This case has been up and down from time to time, but it's never bothered the bilateral relationship of our two countries."

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