The following is taken from the Introduction to a new book called "Secret Ally". If you are interested go to the website www.balibosecret.gwds.com.au
Unearthed secret Defence Department documents prove a massive armaments diversion in the region was at the centre of the Balibo cover up. A conspiracy to keep all Australian Prime Ministers from 1975 onwards ignorant of the arms diversion and the secret Indonesian invasion and thus from intervening in East Timor cost the lives of not only six journalists but hundreds of thousands of East Timorese. There will be no real justice for the dead until this story is told.
There are two camps of contention concerning the questions did Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam know of the deaths of the five journalists in East Timor on 16 October 1975 and did he see documents warning of the upcoming invasion of Balibo? It has been claimed by some people, including some of his own officials, that Whitlam actually gave the green light to President Suharto of Indonesia to invade the fledging democratic nation of East Timor.
From my twenty years of research Whitlam appears a particularly honest man with an even pedantic if not obsessive approach to protocol. When an outraged Margaret Whitlam asked her husband why he didn’t slap Governor General Sir John Kerr’s face and rip up the letter that withdrew his commission as Prime Minister, Whitlam replied “Because, Margaret, it was a legal document”. (“Margaret Whitlam”. Susan Mitchell page 266). He had a seeming profound respect, if not fixation for the sanctity of the official written word. If that is the case the following may appear shocking. If we go to the 2007 Coronial Report on the Inquest Into The Death of Brian Raymond Peters, the Coroner Dorelle Pinch notes on page 103 of her report that he was never even aware Indonesian special forces invaded Balibo in mid October 1975, "Rather he was of the impression that the first time Indonesian soldiers invaded East Timor was the attack on Dili on 7 December 1975." The Coroner then notes "As to the time he learnt of the deaths of the journalists, Mr Whitam gave evidence that he was briefed for the first time on 21 October. He stated that he was certain of the date because he was able to check his movements in his Official Diary."
So Mr Whitlam always believed the journalists were killed, not by Indonesian soldiers as the Coronial Inquest found, but in local partisan crossfire between East Timorese forces! This has been the official Indonesian and Australian Government’s line for the last 32 years! Would Whitlam lie under oath against his memory of events, let alone his own documented records. It seems out of character in the extreme that a trained and experienced lawyer would go against his memory of events as well as the document record of his Official Diaries to make a false statement and perjure himself, if he had prior knowledge of the invasion and up to the minute information concerning the murders of the Balibo Five.
We cannot prove or disprove claims that Gough Whitlam was aware of what was going down between Indonesia and East Timor in mid October 1975. Whitlam states he was not told of the deaths for five days and then appears ignorant about an Indonesian secret invasion and the reason he was briefed on the 21st about the deaths is given on page 106 of the Coronial Report by his Defence Minister Bill Morrison. "It was suggested to Mr Morrison that the reason the families were not immediately notified of the deaths was that DSD capabilities would be compromised if that was the only source of the information. However Mr Morrison pointed out that Kompas, an Indonesian newspaper, carried headlines on 20 October that Australians had been killed in East Timor and the text reported four bodies had been found. From that time, the article provided collateral for the DSD signal and it was not the source that caused further delay."
Whitlam-as well as the relatives -it seems from his testimony, was kept in the dark until the information was out in the public domain. The deaths being outed in the media, they had to tell Whitlam after the newspaper article on 20 October and they did so, as he and his diary notes the next day, the 21st, for he would find out anyway and they would look stupid or worse. Also Bill Morrison stated at the 2007 Inquest that he did not brief Whitlam of the invasion because Whitlam 'had too much on his hands' and Foreign Affairs Minister Don Willesee also claimed to have kept stum according to his daughter. Both men claimed Arthur Tange ordered them to keep it quiet.
There is also Whitlam's massive tome " The Whitlam Government 1972-1975" written soon after events, which goes into minute and copious detail the history leading up to and into proceedings in Indonesia and East Timor in 1975 and it is all pro Suharto and scorn for Fretelin. Then there is the later work "Abiding Interests" which is embarrassing in its ignorance and praise for Suharto and Indonesia and both books celebrate the work done by the Indonesians in East Timor. The extent of Whitlam’s true knowledge of events in Balibo we will look at later but what we can prove is that every other Australian Prime Minister after Whitlam for a 30 year period was ignorant of the secret Indonesian invasion of Balibo! This ignorance resulted in allegedly hundreds of thousands of East Timorese joining the Balibo Five in death!
The reason why both Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser were so scornful of Fretelin as a communist regime, why nothing was ever done by them and the other PM's for decades to save the people and they were so supportive of Suharto is because this was the information and advice they were given by their Australian Government officials and Indonesian President Suharto and his officials. If we go to "The Whitlam Government 1972-1975" page 111, Whitlam notes concerning the discussions around the future of East Timor in 1975, "On 30 October Willesee offered an Australian venue for round table discussions. In Rome on 1 and 2 November the Portuguese and Indonesian foreign ministers agreed on the need for a meeting between Portugal and the three Timorese parties. Again it was impossible to reach agreement. Soon after the coup in Canberra on 11 November Fraser wrote to Suharto that he hoped to establish with him the close personal ties that he understood that I had with him.”
The Coroner of the Inquest in 2007 handed down her finding which in part stated Brian Raymond Peters part of the group “collectively known as “the Balibo Five” died at Balibo in Timor –Leste from wounds sustained when he was shot and/or stabbed deliberately, and not in the heat of battle, by members of the Indonesian Special Forces, including Christoforus da Silva and Captain Yunus Yosfiah on the orders of Captain Yosfiah, to prevent him from revealing that Indonesian Special Forces had participated in the attack on Balibo.”
The ignorance of what was actually going on here and what Whitlam revealed above in his book, but which was really revealed at the 2007 Coronial Inquest is breathtaking. The above dates quoted by Whitlam, 30 October and 1 and 2 November were two weeks after the commencement of the secret Indonesian invasion of East Timor and the deaths of the journalists at Balibo, however Whitlam writes as if nothing has happened and peaceful negotiations are under way to resolve the future of East Timor! What’s more Whitlam notes Indonesian foreign ministers agreed to the need for more meetings between Portugal and the East Timorese when the Indonesians had already landed and taken Balibo and Maliana and were indeed advancing and would attack and take Dili on December 7, in what was already a military takeover codenamed Operation Flamboyan! Whitlam seems profoundly ignorant of Operation Flamboyan and the attack and murders at Balibo, but what we can note here from the above is that new Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is totally ignorant of Operation Flamboyan, and the deaths at Balibo! What's more Malcolm wanted to be friends with Suharto too, just like Whitlam! He was caretaker Prime Minister and even weeks after the invasion he still knew nothing about it and he was kept out of the loop for his term of office and reportedly hundreds of thousands of peoples native to this land would follow the dead journalists prematurely into the dust of East Timor. That Malcolm Fraser would become a renowned humanitarian and globe trotting statesman for other causes had no impact on his ignorance of the Indonesian secret war in East Timor. Successive Prime Ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard and Kevin Rudd, up to the 2007 Inquest, would all join the ignorance party.
There is a massive cover up and it is ongoing. The Coroner of the 2007 Inquest into Brian Peters' death formally referred her finding on war crimes committed by certain Indonesians at Balibo on 16 October 1975 to the Commonwealth Attorney General. The Attorney General seeking prosecution passed it on to the Australian Federal Police. The AFP website notes all kinds of difficulties in a such a criminal proceeding but notes an investigation is onging so it can't say much. How long will it take and would they ever seek extradition of these Indonesians after all this time? They want to hurry up, they are old men.
The real answer behind what is going on may be in the website of the National Archives in its Fact sheet 238-The 'Balibo Affair', East Timor, October 1975. Concerning Indonesian criminality in the deaths of the Balibo Five as found by the Coroner nearly three years ago and an Indonesian invasion of East Timor in mid October 1975, the official record of our National Archives states and I quote, "Fretilin declared the territory's independencd on 28 November (1975). Indonesia's response was an invasion of East Timor beginning on 5 December...
That is the official line still, that Indonesia first invaded at Dili in December! The cover up is still going on for those students of history who go to the official records. What are the chances of finding anything in the files they offer the researcher! There is no closure for the relatives or anyone else. The only real closure to be found is in the following revelations contained in this website. My website is designed so that even those who can't afford the book can go to the relevant National Archives files, files that were illegaly and carefully hidden for 30 years and pull the documents that blow the whole thing open.
In “The Cameron Diaries” by the late, The Hon Clyde Cameron, page 90, the author notes, concerning the day Tuesday 23 March 1976, that a recommendation was put forward by a committee of senior Whitlam ministers that “East Timor should have the choice of (a) independence (b) adherence to Portugal or ((c) incorporation with Indonesia. The Committee also recommended the withdrawal of Indonesian forces in accordance with the Security Council’s decision, the stationing of a UN peacekeeping force in Portuguese East Timor, urgent humanitarian aid to all areas of need in Portuguese East Timor and the suspension of Australian defence aid to Indonesia if they do not withdraw their forces from Portuguese East Timor.”
This is the real world! The Security Council was involved, UN peacekeeping efforts were in place, the Whitlam ministers were behind these initiatives and advising even more. However Whitlam’s attitude is revealed on page 633 of the above book. Concerning a Caucus motion “of protest over Indonesia’s refusal to grant visas to Members of the Australian Parliament to attend East Timor. The Canberra Times report reads: Mr Whitlam pointed out that a delegation from Australia would be interfering in the internal affairs of another nation, Indonesia."
Whitlam has seemingly no idea of what went down in Balibo or East Timor in general. What is interesting is that Whitlam, instead of condemning Operation Flamboyan as a clandestine operation to take over East Timor, always believed the Indonesians were only doing good in East Timor while his ministers knew the truth of Indonesian expansionist aggression! Only they lived in the real world. Why? The reason that Whitlam was not living in it is that Whitlam was being briefed by rogue Australian Government officials and Malcolm Fraser would inherit these same rogue officials and their briefings and disinformation. Both men who would become renowned humanitarians were tricked into doing nothing from briefings by their officials that in Whitlam’s own words when replying to a challenge by George Negus that Balibo took him by surprise, “Not really, because as I said earlier to you, the new Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, Mr Anthony, had three months earlier said that East Timor was coming under Communist control, that Fretelin was Communist. Now that played on Indonesia’s paranoia about all things which are thought to be Communist.”
This is what the Australian officials and even Suharto himself and his officials briefed Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser on concerning the need for the invasion of Dili in early December, it was the threat of the Red Menace! Whitlam had recalled Australian troops from Viet Nam and it subsequently fell to the Communists! The Australian officials and Suharto however mentioned nothing to Whitlam or Fraser about Operation Flamboyan, the attack on Balibo and the murder of the journalists that they were themselves fully aware of. Defence Secretary Sir Arthur Tange gave the orders concerning the relatives and Whitlam to be kept in the dark and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Renouf at the 2007 Coronial Inquest admitted seeing the documents concerning the invasion of Balibo and the deaths of the journalists. Both men went to work for the Fraser Government. It is on record in a further briefing they jointly dissuaded new Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser from doing anything to help the people of East Timor.
Regards Richard Hornabrook