445 Record of Conversation Between Araujo and Taylor

Jakarta, 2 May 1976

CONFIDENTIAL

Visit to Indonesia

For Prime Minister from Peacock

I thanked Mr Araujo for his assistance in our visit to Balibo on 29 April and my visit to Dili and Baucau.

Journalists

  1. I explained that our visit to East Timor was to conduct a full enquiry into the fate of the five journalists from Australia who we presumed had died in Balibo on 16 October 1975. As a result of our visit to Balibo there were several important questions on which information was lacking. They related to the Liurai of Atsabe's letter1 to the Government of Indonesia of 3 November 1975. I said I had discussed this matter in detail with Mr Lopes da Cruz and had given him a note about them. I asked for Mr Araujo's continued support for our enquiry, particularly for a second visit to Balibo with the Liurai of Atsabe or someone who knew about the information he had put in his letter.
  2. Mr Araujo said that he had been held by Fretilin when Balibo was attacked and therefore did not know anything about the journalists['] deaths. He asked several questions about the incident.
  3. Mr Araujo clearly wanted to give me the impression that he knew nothing about the deaths. He argued that the journalists had come to East Timor when Fretilin had control. Fretilin was, therefore, responsible.
  4. Nevertheless, Mr Araujo said that he agreed we should complete our enquiry and that we could visit Balibo again if transport could be arranged. Mr Lopes da Cruz would continue to look after this matter and he and the Liurai of Atsabe would accompany us to Balibo when it could be arranged after the Liurai's return from his overseas visit. I thanked Mr Araujo for this agreement.

Visit other Areas

  1. I asked Mr Araujo whether I could visit a secure place in East Timor which had not been visited by Winspeare Guicciardi, explaining that there was a widespread opposition in Australia to the veil of secrecy drawn over the situation in East Timor. A visit to a place not seen by Winspeare would enable me to see another part of the situation. Mr Araujo said that I could go where I wanted provided that transport could be arranged.

Act of Self-Determination

  1. Asked for his plans about an act of self determination, Mr Araujo said East Timor would be integrated into Indonesia in accordance with the wishes of the people. I questioned him briefly on the details, whether there would be a choice and so on. Mr Lopes da Cruz answered in familiar terms: that is by referring to the choice of district representation to attend a 'parliament' at Dili in mid-May to confirm the November declaration of integration2 after which a delegation would carry the demand to Jakarta. Representatives on the Committee of 24, Winspeare Guicciardi and Ambassadors in Jakarta would probably be invited to attend the meeting in Dili.

ICRC

  1. Noting that the Indonesian Red Cross appeared to be doing a fine job I said that the Australian Government strongly supported the return of the ICRC to East Timor. What was the PGET's policy on the ICRC? Mr Araujo said that the PGET agreed that the ICRC could return to East Timor if the Indonesian Government also agreed. I said this attitude by the PGET was very welcome.
  2. In answer to a question Mr Araujo repeated his agreement. Afterwards I checked with Lopes da Cruz and he said that what Mr Araujo had said was correct. General Moerdani also confirmed it, but added that transport was a problem. Dili and Baucau were alright, but elsewhere transport was difficult.

General

  1. The discussion was quite short (about twenty minutes) because my program was then two hours behind schedule and Mr Araujo, who had been ill, was tired. My impression was that while Mr Araujo's agreement was sought on major policies he was not well informed on the details. Mr Lopes da Cruz seemed the hardest working and best informed member of the PGET. (Incidentally, Mr Araujo had shaved his beard and dyed his white hair black since we met him in Jakarta. He looked years younger.)
  2. This discussion took place in the Governor's office in the Administration building. The room was furnished as it had been when the Portuguese Governor was there. But it was dusty and appeared not to be used much.

[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, xxii]