392 Cablegram to Canberra

Jak:arta, 31 December 1975

O.JA3951 CONFIDENTIAL PRIORITY

Portuguese Timor

I saw Malik at his house this afternoon, 31 December, and handed over Minister's message.1

  1. Malik recalled our previous discussion on the 19th December and said that he had in fact since given instructions to the Indonesian Red Cross that it should send an official and a team of doctors to Dili as soon as possible. Malik said that when the Indonesian Red Cross was established, it would then be prepared to receive the ICRC. Malik added that he had 'insisted' to the provisional government on the importance of getting the Indonesian Red Cross established in Dili without delay
  2. Malik said that he thought that public concern in Australia, while understandable, was probably exaggerated. FRETILIN resistance had crumbled. The fall of Alieu was a decisive blow. Notwithstanding reports in the Australian media of increased fighting, fighting was in fact lessening. FRETILIN forces were tending to hand in their arms and surrender in increasing numbers. Those that did so were not being imprisoned. They were allowed 'to go home'.
  3. Malik said that he had been asked by the provisional government to go to Dili tomorrow, New Year's Day. Because of commitments here, he could not do so. Cabinet was meeting on the 5th and the opening of Parliament would be on the 6th of January. The earliest he could get to Dili would be the 7th or 8th, probably the latter.
  4. Malik said that he would take a party of local and foreign journalists, including the ABC representative (Joyce) with him.
  5. I asked Malik whether HANKAM and BAKIN had agreed, both to the Indonesian Red Cross and the International Red Cross resuming work in Dili and whether they had also agreed to foreign journalists accompanying him to Dili. Malik said 'yes'. Malik is not always reliable and time will tell if this is in fact the case and if delays are not encountered or obstructions placed in the way of the journalists or Red Cross personnel and then blamed on the provisional government.
  6. I also said that the Australian Government hoped that the Secretary-General's representative could proceed to Timor as soon as possible. Malik said that, as we have reported, the special representative would be welcome in Timor. He would arrive in Jakarta no later than the 12th January. He would be able to visit Occusi, Dili, Bacau and other areas and would be able to meet representatives of all the parties. I said that I had heard on Radio Australia that Horta had suggested that he should accompany the Secretary-General's representative. Malik did not say that Horta would be unacceptable, but said that his presence would be 'unnecessary' and that he would probably be in personal danger if he returned to Dili.
  7. I also said that the reports of increased conflict in Timor had stimulated concern in Australia about possible refugees from Timor. Malik repeated what he had said to me previously, namely that there would be few, if any, refugees. The present situation was quite unlike the situation in August, when many people had sought evacuation to Australia. I said that while the situation may be calmer than some reports in the Australian media suggested, the safety of the civilian population of East Timor was a matter of public concern in Australia. Malik simply said that the civilian population would be in no danger except in those few remaining areas where hard-core FRETILIN supporters might re-group. He added, however, that FRETILIN was really 'finished', militarily and politically. Civilians who had been in FRETILIN-held areas were cooperative and did not wish to leave Timor. (Malik may be being optimistic but this is what he said.)

WOOLCOTT

[NAA: AI0463, 801/13/11/1, xviii]