Subject: texts of Shirley Shackleton's letters to SBY, Kevin Rudd

watch the commercial made by Shirley Shackleton and aired during SBY's visit here:


10th March 2010

Mrs Shirley Shackleton Address

Welcome to Australia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and congratulations on being appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia. I am the wife of one the journalists alleged to have been slain by members of Team Susi of the Indonesian military on 16th October 1975.

My name is Shirley Shackleton.

I am aware of the potential for our two great nations to become true friends, but as everyone knows we have serious problems to settle, one of which is the atrocity at Balibó which remains a weeping sore. It is no use just saying we are friends; we have to be friends and friends do not lie to each other, especially about something as serious as the cold hearted murder of unarmed civilians.

On that terrible morning when I heard that my husband Greg Shackleton was missing with four other journalists, I feared he was dead. My second fear was if my premonition was correct, this would have to be managed very carefully or boys like my eight-year-old son could be fighting Indonesian boys in the future. And then, I was forced to witness lies which failed to serve the Indonesian and Australian peoples; on the contrary, they forced us to mistrust one another.

Unfortunately, this was not confined to Australia; in your recent visit to the US, questions were posed to you regarding the shooting of the Australian journalists. I note, however, that at Harvard University you responded to a questioner by promising, "We will cooperate with Australia because we respect human rights and democracy."

I believe it is time to put this atrocity to rest and I am asking you to use this occasion to heal the weeping sore that taints any possibility of respect and true friendship between our two countries by not only sending those accused of the murders to Australia for trial, but to also grant me five minutes to plead my case.

I understood long ago that I can drop dead tomorrow and Balibó will not go away. Please, as the president of Indonesia, hear my plea. I request a reply from you.

Shirley Shackleton


10th March 2010

Dear Prime Minister Rudd,

I have not received a reply to this letter sent in January, so I assume you did not read it. Please reply and please discuss the matter of repatriation with President Yudhoyono during his state visit.

Yours Sincerely,

Mrs Shirley Shackleton (text of original letter below)

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister PO Box 6022 House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

20th January 2010

Repatriation of the remains of Greg Shackleton to Australia.

Dear Prime Minister,

The AFP has informed me that their investigation into the murders at Balibó will not include repatriation as this is a matter being handled by you and your staff at DFAT.

I ask that your staff deal only with the next-of-kin of the murdered men as it is our legal right. They are Greig Cunningham (John Milkins speaks for his uncle), Rosie Rennie, June Stewart, Maureen Tolfree (for Brian Peters) and Shirley Shackleton. I am happy to provide contact details if it is necessary, but I provided them two years ago, when Mr. Stonehouse called to make arrangements for the ‘repatriation of the remains’.

I have information and questions which have a bearing on the case and to my knowledge have never been answered.

1. Without my permission or permission from any of the next of kin, the remains of my husband and his colleagues were moved from the original grave in Jakarta’s Kebayoran Lama Cemetery in 1979 and were re-interred at the edge of the cemetery down by the railway line. Why?

2. The new site is a crime scene. Are you treating it as a crime scene?

3. Was permission sought from any Australian authority to move the grave? If so, who gave permission?

4. Were the remains removed from the cemetery at any time during this relocation?

5. Were the remains interfered with in any way at this time? Was any material in the coffin removed or replaced?

6. Are seals able to be now attached to the grave to ensure no interference until this matter is settled? 7. The original plot was purchased; did any money change hands over the acquisition of the second plot? If this is so, who paid?

8. Why have no forensic tests been applied to determine if the so-called remains are those of my husband and his colleagues or are in fact human at all?

9. Fragments of bone were apparently taken from Balibó and brought to Australia by Jose Martins, a defector from the pro-Indonesian group APODETI, in 1976. They were handed over to the Australian Journalists Association, according to media reports. Where are those remains now? Can they be located for inclusion in any reburial?

10. When Indonesian domestic intelligence chief General Yoga Sugama handed the remains to Richard Woolcott on 12 November 1975, they were in four small boxes. Further, Yoga stated these were the remains of just four journalists. In addition, the ‘register of services’ at the All Saints Church in Jakarta records the time and date of the burial, and states the following: “Burial at Kebayoran Lama of remains believed to be of four of five Australian journalists killed in Portuguese Timor”. If this is so, where lies the fifth body? What efforts are being made to locate such missing remains?

11. I request and give permission for the remains to be retrieved from Jakarta, and returned to Australia, and that then a full forensic examination of them be made, including DNA testing to confirm whose remains they are, and examination for any signs of cause of death.

12. Why were two of Greg’s notebooks withheld from me his legal next-of-kin? I am still waiting for them to be supplied to me by DFAT. Could you please follow this up?

13. Have you asked obvious questions of Mr. Richard Woolcott, former Ambassador to Indonesia, as to the reasons why he buried the ‘remains’ in Jakarta?

I request a reply to this letter with particular attention to the questions asked. SHIRLEY SHACKLETON 

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