Memorials for Balibo Five journalists on 40th anniversary of deaths

Memorials for Balibo Five journalists on 40th anniversary of deaths

Six Australian journalists murdered by Indonesian troops during the invasion of East Timor are being memorialised today, on the fortieth anniversary of their deaths.

The men known as the Balibo five – Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart from Channel Nine, and Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters from Channel Seven – were killed after they witnessed an Indonesian incursion in the town of Balibo, on October 16, 1975.

A sixth man, Roger East, a freelance journalist, was executed in Dili two months later.

No one has ever been prosecuted over the deaths.

A dawn service has taken place this morning  at the War Correspondents’ Memorial in Canberra, with another to be held in Melbourne at St Kilda Botanical Gardens at 3pm.

Greg Shackleton’s wife, Sherley, travelled from her home in Melbourne to speak at this morning’s service in Canberra.

“They were there [Balibo] to break the silence but they were silenced,” Ms Shackleton said.

“These men were butchered as if they were cattle and they were just doing their job.”

The son of Gary Cunningham, John Milkins, is using the anniversary to call on the Australian Federal Police to re-open its war crimes investigation into the killings.

The AFP closed the case last year, but Mr Milkins says the reason behind this decision has never really been explained to the public.

“We don’t think that story’s finished. I think perhaps the Government would like the book to be completely closed but I think there are many chapters still to write, there are many unknowns,” he said.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has used the anniversary to announce it will establish a permanent scholarship to develop East Timorese journalists — the Balibo Five-Roger East scholarship.

About author

Libby Dreyer
Libby Dreyer 1729 posts

Libby has worked as a Senior Journalist at National Radio News since February 2011. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Canberra in December 2010.

View all posts by this author →

You might also like

National 0 Comments

Rolf Harris arrested on child abuse charges in UK

A UK newspaper reports Rolf Harris is the Australian entertainer facing charges of child abuse in the UK.

National 0 Comments

Julia Gillard makes first WA visit in four months

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is visiting Western Australia this week.

National 0 Comments

Kurt Fearnley calls for more disability support

Paralympian Kurt Fearnley says Australia is not doing enough to support its disabled citizens.

National 0 Comments

ADFA case dropped

The case against an Australian Defence Force Academy cadet, who allegedly filmed a female cadet in the shower, has been dismissed. 21 year old Obaid Fayyaz was accused of placing a