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Lest We Forget Eureka Stockade!

Succession | 03.12.2004 04:13 | European Social Forum | Social Struggles | London | World

On October 16, 1975, five journalists filming the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, for Australian TV channels, were killed at a place called Balibo. This name seems set to become one of the rallying cries of 2nd Renaissance secession movements in Australia. The facts surrounding the Balibo killings are so damning of the central governments of Australia and Indonesia that the event will rank in Australian consciousness with the Eureka Stockade uprising of 1854.

Australian citizens,
Mamdouth Habib
and David Hicks
have been illegally
incarcerated in the
Guantanamo Bay
facility established
by the US military
as part of the War
on Terror.

(File photo) (Rooters)

Wreaths have been laid in Ballarat to remember the 30 gold diggers and six soldiers who died in the Eureka Stockade, 150 years ago today.

About 2,000 people have gathered at dawn for the ceremony on the original site of the uprising.

Actor John Flaus told the story of Australia's only organised civil uprising, as the crowd surrounded a lake lit by small flames.

"One-hundred-and-fifty years ago to the day, to the hour, a small band of about 100 diggers stood up for what they believed in, and some of them died for it," he said.

Four choirs and a trade union bag-piper performed in the ceremony that lasted 30 minutes - the time it took to put down the original rebellion.

Many descendents of miners and troopers are in Ballarat for today's Eureka events, as well as the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, Opposition Leader Robert Doyle, and Greens leader Bob Brown.

Peter Lalor, the great-grandson of the rebellion leader, says he is proud of his heritage.

"Slowly but surely, even the conservative elements can see that Eureka was a fundamental stand for human rights and liberties, not for revolution, not for breaking laws, not for bringing down governments, but for sound democratic principles," he said.


Australia Sells Its Citizens Short

Australian citizens, Mamdouth Habib and David Hicks have been illegally incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay facility established by the US military as part of the War on Terror. GBay is the modern equivalent of the medieval dungeons used by the Inquisition in their War on Witches. Habib was picked up in Pakistan in October, 2001, where his family says he was looking for a new home for them. Despite having been cleared previously of any terrorist connections in Australia, he is still in prison in Cuba. Hicks is an admitted Taliban fighter who was active against the Northern Alliance. There is no evidence that he was a terrorist or that he fought against (CoW) Coalition of the Willing forces. Despite this, Hicks has not been accorded the rights of a combatant under the Geneva Convention. He has been denied access to civilian lawyers of his choice, and contact with relatives. Hicks faces a US military court and the death penalty.

In typical fashion the Australian government has done nothing to help Habib and Hicks get a fair trial and access to legal and other support. The only Australian contact had in the early stages of their imprisonment was with Australian Federal Police and operatives from ASIO (a covert agency somewhat similar to the CIA). The latter are unlikely to have been much help to Habib and Hicks, and might well have worsened their respective cases. The fact that just about any major power can seize, mistreat or execute Australian citizens, without as much as a 'boo' coming out of Canberra, should cause more people on that large island to think seriously about the option of secession. Two of the same ministers who issued the glib rebuttal of UN criticism of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, and the conditions that so distressed Ian Chappell, are directly responsible for the shameful abandonment of Habib and Hicks.

As the War on Terror is ramped up around the globe, Australians must look after their own interests when travelling abroad. Because it is clear that their own government will desert them if they ever need help.

Canberra's Shameful Deceit On The Balibo Killings

On October 16, 1975, five journalists filming the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, for Australian TV channels, were killed at a place called Balibo. This name seems set to become one of the rallying cries of 2nd Renaissance secession movements in Australia. The facts surrounding the Balibo killings are so damning of the central governments of Australia and Indonesia that the event will rank in Australian consciousness with the Eureka Stockade uprising of 1854.

The following excerpts from various reports and interviews related to Balibo give an outline of the facts, some of which have taken 25 years to emerge.

* "There's been no attack today, but the 60-man Fretilin garrison is pulling back to Maliana. They've been told that Indonesian soldiers are heading this way up the road from Batugade. At any rate, we look like being the last people left in the town, and we'll make a decision very shortly on whether we too should pull back.

In the meantime we've daubed our house with the word 'Australian' in red, and the Australian flag in the house where we spent the night. We're hoping it will afford us some protection."

..........Last report from Greg Shackleton, for Channel 7 Australia.

* "I heard the news of the killings on October 16, 1975. on ABC radio. Indonesia claimed that the journalists were killed in crossfire between warring Timorese factions. Soon after this I received a telegram signed by a Dr Will of the Australian Consulate in Jakarta stating that the remains sent to him for identification could only be described as possibly human. Dr Will subsequently denied sending me the telegram, but he confirmed that the words used were identical to those in his report.

An hour after the telegram arrived, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs called to ask if I wanted the bodies brought home. If I insisted, he said, I would have to pay and it would be very expensive.

Trying not to cry, I read out the telegram and asked if we were talking about five coffins or a matchbox that could be flown home in the pilot's pocket. The remains must be minute, I cried, whatever they have in Jakarta, wasn't my husband. He was definitely human.

I should have realised this outburst would give the bureaucrat just what he was fishing for. A memo could be written claiming I had given permission to hold a funeral in Jakarta. Later I was asked if I wanted to send flowers. I refused.

Reports of a funeral followed. Sixteen years later an English activist sent me a glossy photograph of the funeral of the Balibo Five. It was a big affair. The mourners included the Ambassador to Indonesia, Richard Woollcott, his wife and embassy officials. None of the dead men's families were present. Some had not been invited. There was only one coffin."

..........Greg Shackleton's wife Shirley.
She subsequently became a fully committed activist for the freedom of the Timorese people.

* On April 28, 1976, Australian embassy officials flew from Jakarta to East Timor to interview witnesses to the killings. But a report submitted to the Australian parliament was inconclusive on how the journalists were killed.

"There's a much bigger disgrace to add to the killings of the journalists and this disgrace relates to the invasion of East Timor. The Australian government seems to be dishing out Indonesian propaganda and there are a lot of lies being told."

..........Shirley Shackleton

"I believe there is cogent evidence to support the notion that Australian and probably US military advisers were present in 1975 working to destabilise East Timor and present it to the Indonesians, and that some of these may have been filmed at Balibo by the journalists."

..........Rob Wesley-Smith.
Spokesperson of the Darwin-based Australians for a Free East Timor.

* "My visit this year was nothing like the first. Dili had swarmed with hard-eyed, heavily armed men in combat uniforms; now in the burnt-out city everyone smiled. On this visit I met Tomas Gonsalves. He had accompanied the attacking force of 100 red beret Kopassandha (secret warfare) troops into Balibo. Tomas admitted that Balibo was not defended. There was a lot of gunfire, but it all came from invading Indonesians.

Tomas described how four of the five died. Leading the attack was Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah, a Buginese from South Sulawesi known as an 'orang tempur', a fighting animal. He was promoted after his work in Balibo and served as Minister for Information in the Habibie government.

The journalists were looking out of the window as the troops approached their house. Four immediately exited by the front door. They were not armed or wearing anything that could be mistaken for a uniform. One stood in front with his hands raised and the other three stood in a row behind him. The fourth remained in the house. Yosfiah immediately fired a hail of bullets and his men followed his example. Tomas was told to go away and did not see how the fifth man was killed. The four bodies were soaked in petrol and set alight. We were unable to discover what happened to their remains."

..........Shirley Shackleton's account of her 2000 visit to East Timor.

* Although the Australian government has always denied any knowledge of the circumstances of the deaths of the Balibo Five, a former officer in the top secret Defence Signals Directorate that monitors all communications in the Asia-Pacific, said otherwise, in 1995.

"The transmission telling the higher Indonesian headquarters about these murders was intercepted by an agency of the Defence Signals directorate which simply happened to be located in a naval unit in Darwin."

..........Michael Darby, speaking on Radio Australia's Network Asia program.

* In 2000 the Australian government released documents that confirmed that its embassy in Jakarta had three days warning of the attack, and that Australia was aware that the main thrust of the invasion would be through Balibo. The released information was incorporated in a book, but there was no light shed on the killing of the journalists who were in the way. Interviewed on ABC radio, Shirley Shackleton continued to demand full answers.

MARK WILLACY: "It is an 885 page book. What other documents do you think are out there that should have been included, in your opinion?"

SHIRLEY SHACKELTON: "Well this is what Hamish McDonald said in the Sydney morning Herald this morning. At the last minute insistence of defence officials, even the slightest reference to intelligence sources, such as intercepts of Indonesian military radio signals were deleted from the text of the published cables. So he's got people telling him what's really going on, and you just wonder at the gall of continuing to spend taxpayer's money on these pretend investigations... - see, I happen to believe things should be done in court. This is a matter of murder."

MARK WILLACY: "The Minister, Alexander Downer, says the only documents that were left out were left out because the editors of the book said they were not of sufficient interest."

SHIRLEY SHACKLETON:[LAUGHING] "I'm sorry, I can't take that seriously. Why not leave them there and let us decide what's interesting and what is not, It's not his place to withhold information, surely. Researchers need access to everything. It's time it was done, and I'm calling again for a full judicial inquiry. I think it's absolutely time for the Australian government to stop this farce at once and do the only practical and moral thing, and that is have a full judicial inquiry into the murders a Balibo."

Shirley Shackleton is a most courageous woman and there is no intention here of belittling her efforts to get at the truth about the death of her then 29 years old husband and his colleagues. However, the above episode raises profound questions about our continued support of central governments.

It is remarkable how people keep wanting the Feds to investigate themselves, when is obvious that they are not to be trusted. The matter of the Balibo Five demonstrates that Australia is no longer a free democracy, nor a society in which citizens can have any belief in the officials who are supposed to be acting in the national interest, but are instead acting in the interest of the (AMIC) American Military Industrial Complex and the (OWO) Old World Order. There will never be a full and truthful account of the invasion of East Timor and the circumstances of the deaths of the Balibo Five. Governments don't operate like that anymore. The question this raises is; Why do ordinary people still look to governments to safeguard their interests and solve the problems in the failing system of industrial capitalism? As Paul and Cox said about beliefs that non-human intelligences will not arise in the near future: "Now there's nutty for you."

Fortunately, the power and control of government and military elites is illusory in the 21st century. The world no longer works the way it did, and there is nothing to compel people to support failed, outdated systems any longer. This is an understanding that must be widely and quickly shared. The future of our children and the planet depends upon our changing our thinking about governments, and our support for them.



It requests the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague to indict John Howard and the ministers responsible, for war crimes in Iraq, and also for their treatment of refugees in this country as part of an overall plan to enable the invasion of Iraq. It also asks that the treatment of Aborigines in this country be seen as part of the establishment of overall control to enable them to wage aggressive war on Iraq. I'm not sure that this last part would get up, but it makes an interesting point.

Waging aggressive war is what the Nazi leaders were tried and many executed for following the second world war.

I once had the privilege, and use the term advisedly, to listen to Norman Schwartzkopf talk in the USA. He was asked why he hadn't just got his troops to drive straight on to Baghdad and throw Sadaam out when he had the chance?

He replied, "Attacking and occupying Iraq without a United Nations resolution would have been an illegal act."

I believe that it is important for leaders of nations not to be able to act with impunity when committing illegal acts to wage aggressive war, that's why I signed the petition. I don't know if anything will come of it, but as Shakespeare so wonderfully noted, "Much rain wears the marble." So I thought I'd add my drop.

Perhaps you would like to sign the petition, and perhaps you would like to pass this on to everyone you know?



Greens warn of 'politicised' terror trials

"At least give the numbers of lawyers who have been put onto that list and the criteria for black-banning lawyers from Australian courts which is used by the Government to politically determine who is or who isn't suitable to come before Australian courts," he said.



Breakout and Justice Action wish you...


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