290 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 23 October 1975, 1.50 p.m.


Portuguese Timor: Missing Journalists

As you will know, each day the Foreign Ministry has held out hopes that we will receive news of the fate of the five Australians. Each day we are disappointed.

  1. Dan spoke again to General Adenan this morning, referring to the apparently promising development reported in Antara (JA2594).1 Adenan did not sound very encouraged. He merely said that the Timor Committee would be meeting today and that he would raise the subject again.
  2. A source in the Foreign Ministry implied to Taylor this morning that while the Foreign Ministry argued strongly in favour of Indonesian help to us in this matter, there were influential elements in the Indonesian Government which believed that Indonesia should not be involved in any way, even in the role of messenger. (Information Minister Mashuri was reported in Antara on 21 October as having said in reply to a question that, while the Indonesian Government felt sympathy for the Australian journalists, 'it was not Indonesia's business because the territory fell under Portuguese sovereignty'.)
  3. We suspect that a message to us from Lopez da Cruz (or anyone else from UDT/Apodeti) confirming the fate of the five Australians could be produced at the drop of a hat. The 'influential elements' in Jakarta are clearly preventing us from receiving it.
  4. [Another source]2 said that 'certain quarters' of the Indonesian Government felt it unwise for Indonesia to play any role at all in this matter. We covered the ground in detail with him, emphasising the need for us to be advised quickly of the fate of the five. Could not Lopez da Cruz be asked urgently to send us a cable direct (i.e. not through official Indonesian channels) or a message to the Embassy officer (Johnson) in Kupang? [The source] would take the first opportunity to raise the matter informally with the President.3

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/5, i]