Selasa, 15 Desember 2009


BALIBO is the true story of the murder of five Australian journalists in East Timor in 1975 in the lead up to the invasion by Indonesia.

Juliana Da Costa was nine years old when Indonesia invaded Dili. For the first time since that tragic day, she returns to Dili to give evidence to the Timor-Leste Commission For Truth and Reconciliation. The revelations of her testimony frame BALIBO as Juliana describes the day of the invasion and the massacre that unfolded on the Dili Wharf.

In November 1975, four weeks after the five journalists are reported missing, veteran foreign correspondent Roger East is approached by twenty-five year old José Ramos-Horta who attempts to lure him to East Timor to run the East Timor News Agency. Roger East agrees to
join Horta in East Timor, but only if he is first given complete access to the nation to find out the fate of “The Balibo Five” journalists – Channel Sevenʼs Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart, and from Channel Nine, Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie. All five had last been
seen filming news reports in the small town of Balibo.

East does not accept the official story that the men were killed in crossfire. As his determination to uncover the truth intensifies he and Horta undertake the perilous journey through the rough country from Dili to Balibo, terrain now occupied by day by Indonesian forces. Inter-cut with their journey is the story of how the journalists, four weeks earlier, made their way to Balibo determined to film the imminent Indonesian invasion. Most forceful of the group is Greg Shackleton who is keen to fulfill his duties as a journalist in a wartime situation and, from a compassionate perspective, to tell the East Timorese point of view.

On the morning of October 16 all five men are executed in cold blood by the invading Indonesian troops, after clearly identifying themselves as Australian journalists. Their bodies are then burnt.

Without any official Australian Government protest the Indonesian army continues to secure the border area and advance on Dili. After uncovering the awful truth East returns to Dili with a renewed determination to tell the story of the country he has come to care about.

On his return, Horta informs East that he has been
chosen by his colleagues in the East Timorese Government to leave East Timor to represent the country in exile at the United Nations. He is unable to convince Roger East to join him on a flight to safety in advance of the impending invasion, leaving East the only remaining foreign correspondent in East Timor. With US President Ford and Henry Kissinger safely in the air after approving the invasion in secret meetings in Jakarta, Indonesian paratroopers and commandos attack Dili and immediately capture East who is reporting the invasion.

Defiant to the end, East is executed on the Dili wharf by an Indonesian execution squad, together with hundreds of East Timorese. The young Juliana witnesses the tragic massacre of her people, and the murder of Roger East, her friend.

After these tragic events, José Ramos-Horta went on to represent his country in exile for 24 years, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, and returning to an independent East Timor in 1999. He is currently the elected President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

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