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Film on Balibo Five journalists to be showcased at IPI World Congress in Helsinki

Film on Balibo Five journalists to be showcased at IPI World Congress
Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia as journalist Roger East in a scene from 'Balibo'.

Balibo, a powerful film that tells of the events surrounding the brutal killing of five journalists by Indonesian soldiers in East Timor in 1975, will be showcased at the upcoming IPI World Congress in Helsinki.

The political thriller is told through the eyes of Roger East (played by Emmy Award-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia), an Australian who went to East Timor to investigate the earlier killings of five fellow journalists and was himself murdered in East Timor.

Exclusive footage of the film will be shown on June 8 during the 58th IPI World Congress, followed by a special presentation featuring awardwinning director Robert Connolly; actor Damon Gameau, who plays slain television reporter Gregory Shackleton; and Maureen Tolfree, sister of one of the journalists killed in East Timor and long-time campaigner for justice.

"We are proud to be part of this effort to bring the story of these horrific crimes to a wider audience, said IPI Director David Dadge. "We hope this film will finally encourage the Indonesian authorities to reconcile their past with their international human rights obligations and to bring to justice those who committed these crimes, something the families and colleagues of these men have sought for too long".

Since the killings, IPI and the relatives of the men have sought an investigation into the deaths. The Indonesian military has declined to prosecute its forces, but some Australian authorities have called for a war crimes investigation. Tolfree, who is the sister of slain British cameraman Brian Peters, will be one of four relatives of the victims scheduled to attend the IPI World Congress.

In October 1975, five Australia-based journalists–besides Shackleton and Peters, New Zealand cameraman Gary Cunningham, British reporter Malcolm Rennie, and Australian soundman Tony Stewart–travelled to the tiny East Timorese village of Balibo to investigate reports of Indonesian incursions into what was then a Portuguese colony. While there they witnessed Indonesian troops massing near the border.

On the morning of October 16, Indonesian troops and a group of Timorese insurgents attacked Balibo. Eyewitness reports describe the unarmed journalists surrendering to the soldiers, only to be executed on the spot. The witnesses said the Indonesian soldiers singled out the journalists to stop them reporting what they had seen in Balibo.

A few weeks later, East travelled to East Timor to investigate the disappearance of the "Balibo Five". East was last seen in early December 1975, hands bound behind his back, being dragged across the square of East Timor’s capital Dili by Indonesian soldiers. It is believed he was executed on the city’s wharf along with Timorese locals, whose corpses were cast into the sea.

Date posted: May 26, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 386