Meeting at its annual General Assembly on 9 June in Helsinki, Finland, IPI members once again called for justice for the six Australia-based journalists murdered in East Timor in 1975.
Eyewitnesses report that five of the television reporters and cameramen – Gary Cunningham, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Gregory Shackleton and Tony Stewart – were killed in cold blood after surrendering to Indonesian troops, following a covert Indonesian military attack on the East Timorese village of Balibo on 16 October 1975.
The sixth journalist, Roger East, travelled to East Timor in the weeks that followed to investigate the fate of his five colleagues, who at the time were declared missing. East was last seen on 8 December 1975 as Indonesian soldiers dragged him across the main square of the East Timor capital of Dili, his hands bound behind his back. Soldiers later killed him along with Timorese civilians on the city’s wharf.
IPI members have long called for justice for the murders of these journalists, including resolutions made at previous World Congresses in 1976 and 2006.
IPI members also note that the results of a 2007 New South Wales coroners’ inquiry into Peters’ death found that Indonesian soldiers killed him deliberately and possibly on the orders of higher-ranking officers. The Indonesian military has declined to prosecute its forces in connection with the journalists’ deaths.
IPI members call on the authorities in Australia and Indonesia to bring to justice those responsible for the murders of these six journalists in 1975, to send an unequivocal message that impunity for such barbarous acts will not stand regardless of how much time has elapsed.