296 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 25 October 1975, 4.20 p.m.


Portuguese Timor-Australian Journalists

I saw General Adenan this morning, 25 October. I said that I was surprised to fmd on my return from a two day visit to Bandung that we still had received no hard information on the fate of the journalists.

  1. Adenan said that the Indonesians had still received no message from UDT or Apodeti via Kupang in response to Indonesian enquiries.
  2. I said that while we appreciated Indonesia's point that Balibo was in Portuguese Timor the action in which the journalists were believed to have been killed had been mounted by UDT and Apodeti forces, the fact remained that Indonesia had contacts with these forces and I would have thought it was in Indonesia's own interests to use its good offices to press them for any early response. We all had obligations to the next of kin. I also said that any documents or personal effects which might have been found in Balibo could, through Indonesia's good offices be given to Mr Johnson in Kupang or sent to Jakarta. Adenan said that they had this in mind also.
  3. Adenan said that he very much regretted the delay in obtaining an answer for us. He was pressing for one and hoped that we would have some definite information 'very shortly'.
  4. Adenan asked whether we had asked the Portuguese Government about the fate of the journalists since they were legally in Portuguese territory. In reply I said that I would assume that we had made approaches to the Portuguese authorities but, as he would know, this would be a useless formality.The only way in which we could obtain positive information was from UDT and/or Apodeti through Indonesia's good offices.

[NAA: A10463, 801113/11/5, i]