Subject: SBY flies into controversy as Balibo Five widow calls for
also Leaders urged to discuss extradition
SBY flies into controversy as Balibo Five widow calls for justice
By Chris Johnson
9th March 2010
The widow of one of the Balibo Five will use this week's visit to Australia by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to plead for her husband's murderers to be brought to justice. The campaign is set to affect, if not overshadow, the two days Dr Yudhoyono spends in Canberra meeting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Governor-General Quentin Bryce. Dr Yudhoyono will receive a ceremonial welcome when he arrives inCanberra today and he will address Parliament tomorrow.
In a television commercial being launched today, Shirley Shackleton, the widow of Channel Seven reporter Greg Shackleton, appeals to both DrYudhoyono and Mr Rudd to start legal action in Australia over the executed journalists. On October 16, 1975, with Indonesia poised to invade East Timor, five Australian television reporters covering the event were killed in the border town of Balibo. A NSW coronial inquiry in 2007 concluded that the deaths of the Balibo Five were war crimes and that the reporters were deliberately executed after surrendering to Indonesian Special Forces. But the Indonesian Government insists the matter is closed and will remain so.
With the release of the coronial report, Mr Rudd, then in Opposition, expressed concern over the findings and said the case should be concluded by bringing to account those responsible for the murders. Last year, Australian Federal Police started investigating the allegations but no progress has been reported. In the commercial, Mrs Shackleton asks Mr Rudd to act on his public statements regarding the report's findings. In a dignified and powerful appeal, the widow tells the leaders of Australia and Indonesia they can do more to ensure justice is served. ''The killing of the Balibo Five is a war crime, which can be prosecuted regardless of the nationality of the victims or the perpetrators. There is no statute of limitation,'' she says in the commercial. ''President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, on behalf of my murdered husband Greg Shackleton, one of the Balibo Five, please send the alleged killers to Australia for trial.''
The Prime Minister's office would not confirm if the Balibo Five would be discussed in the bilateral talks. But Government sources said the current AFP investigation into the deaths was a matter to be handled through normal law enforcement cooperation between Australia and Indonesia, and that reference could be made to that in the course of the discussions. The television commercial was authorised and paid for by Australian businessman and campaigner for East Timor, Ian Melrose.
Leaders urged to discuss extradition
Chris John, Canberra Times, 10 March 2010
Greens leader Bob Brown says bringing the Balibo Five's alleged murderers to trial must be a topic open for discussion if Australia and Indonesia hope to progress their relationship. Senator Brown has written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asking him to raise the issue with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during this week's official visit to Canberra.
As The Canberra Times revealed yesterday, the widow of one of the Balibo Five appears in a strategically timed television commercial calling on the leaders of both countries to ensure justice is carried out in relation to the 1975 executions of five Australian journalists by Indonesian Special Forces. The widow of Channel Seven reporter Greg Shackleton, Shirley Shackleton, appeals for the extradition of those named as suspects during a 2007 NSW coronial inquest into the deaths. The commercials and accompanying press advertisements were scheduled to be seen by the Indonesian delegation and media travelling with Dr Yudhoyono.
Yesterday, Mrs Shackleton, Senator Brown and Independent senator Nick Xenophon launched the ad campaign in Parliament House and all agreed that the issue should no longer be regarded as a taboo topic. ''Between neighbours it is surely not asking much, but is the right thing, to request that there be the extradition of people who are accused of such heinous crimes so that the justice system can take its way,'' Senator Brown said. ''It's not history. There is no statute of limitations. It's an unfinished sorry saga that we want to see put to completion.''
Mrs Shackleton has a letter of her own she hopes to present to Dr Yudhoyono before he leaves Canberra today for Sydney. ''I know a lot about Indonesian people. We really can be good friends with them if we clear these dreadful matters up,'' she said. ''Our two countries can be friends but they have to be true friends.''
Mrs Shackleton said all she wanted was for the two leaders to talk honestly about the issue and discuss the possibility of extraditing the alleged murderers, including Yunus Yosfiah who was named in the NSW inquest as the leader of the 1975 Balibo attack. Mr Yosfiah went on to be an Indonesian government minister in 1998-99. Senator Xenophon described the killing of the Balibo Five as an ''open wound'' in the relationship. ''... Sometimes, great friends need to tell uncomfortable truths,'' he said.
The Prime Minister's office did not comment yesterday on the content of discussions between Mr Rudd and Dr Yudhoyono. But the leaders are expected to hold a joint media conference this morning, before the Indonesian President's address to Parliament.