Whitlam memory lapse alert – sincerely

May 4, 2007

Whitlam called to Balibo Five inquest. 03/05/2007. ABC News Online

This is a story that just won’t go away. Thirty years ago, on October 16 1975, two Australians, two Britons and a
a New Zealander were murdered by Indonesian soldiers during that country’s invasion of East Timor. The five, reporter Greg Shackleton, 27, sound recordist Tony Stewart, 21, cameraman Gary Cunningham, 27, cameraman Brian Peters, 29, and reporter Malcolm Rennie, 28 were in the town of Balibo when the Indonesians attacked. They were shot in cold blood.
There’s always been a suggestion that the then Labor government, led by PM Gough Whitlam, was complicit in the Indonesians’ bloody take-over.
I wonder if Gough can remember what happened back in 1975. He’ll certainly never forget November the 11th,the day he was sacked by the Governor General, but will he be able to recall any meetings with Indonesian and American officials at which the decision to chop off any chance of East Timorese independence was relayed to him?
If I was Gough, I’d be claiming Altzeimer’s has finally taken its toll. That would be consistent with the various memoirs he’s written and his constant denials of Australian knowledge.

Read more at the SMH Online
and this background piece at Scoop which covers some of the ‘untold’ story about a high-level cover-up. the case has been in and out of the spotlight for many years. Reporters Without Borders recently reported on secrecy surrounding the coronial inquest when it began in February 2007.
Greg Shackleton’s wife, Shirley, has fought tirelessly for the true story of her husband’s murder to be told. Here’s a grab of a story from the Dart Center for journalism and trauma, from October last year:

Shirley Shackleton—whose husband, Australian journalist Greg Shackleton, was murdered in East Timor in 1975—has been asking the same question for 30 years: “I want to know what happened to my husband and his colleagues,” she says. “Why were these people murdered in cold blood?”

A very good question, it’s about time someone was held responsible.

Shirley Shackleton
Photo by Cait McMahon