471 Cablegram to Peking

Canberra, 21 June 1976


Timor: Indonesian Fact-Finding Mission

For Minister and Secretary1

We need to answer Indonesia's invitation2 to accompany the fact-finding mission to East Timor. The mission, comprising Indonesian Ministers and members of the DPR, is to leave Jakarta on the evening of 23 June. It will spend the night in Bali and leave for Dili early on 24 June. At Dili there will be a short meeting with PGET leaders. The party will then divide into two (or three) groups which between them are to visit all thirteen districts of East Timor. The party will return to Jakarta late on 24 June.

  1. The Indonesians have been adamant that the duration of the visit cannot be extended beyond one day. They have pleaded lack of accommodation and other facilities, and they imply that by splitting the party into groups it will be possible for the mission to meet a fair cross section of the people in the time available. It seems unlikely that those participating will be given more than about three or four hours outside Dili, or that those whose opinions are to be canvassed will have any choice other than to state whether or not they are in favour of the petition for integration. The whole process pre-supposes the validity of the 31 May proceedings3 and would seem to fall short of our requirement that the mission should provide reasonable opportunity for a genuine sounding of opinion in the territory.
  2. It appears that few foreign embassies will accept the Indonesian invitation. As of 20 June those who had accepted are: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Panama, Philippines and Syria.4 Of the other regional countries, Singapore and PNG have decided against attendance, while Thailand is, at most, a waiverer. If Australia does not attend we doubt whether the United States will do so. This would call into question Japan's attendance, while New Zealand seems unlikely to repeat its near solo performance of 31 May. The EEC nine have decided against attendance.
  3. It is also clear that Winspeare will not be a participant in the process. Nor will the Committee of Twenty-Four or the Security Council (because of Indonesia's non-compliance with the Security Council Resolutions on Timor).
  4. In the light of the above there seems no alternative to informing the Indonesians that Australia too will not be taking up the Indonesian invitation.
  5. On this occasion we have given the Indonesians plenty of forewarning of our views. They will be aware too of the considerable efforts by Australia to get Winspeare involved, these efforts including encouragementto others (the US, UK, Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia) to do likewise.
  6. Winspeare himself was initially inclined to respond fairly positively to our representations, but Waldheim was quite unhelpful. It was perhaps natural that he should wish to avoid a situation where, as in January, the Indonesians effectively stage-managed Winspeare's visit. But on this occasion the Indonesians had indicated Winspeare could travel extensively and to all thirteen districts. The Secretary-General failed to respond to our (and Winspeare's) suggestion that he might invite Fretilin to name one or more places where they could be prepared to meet Winspeare and that he should seek guarantees from Indonesia and the PGET that they would not impede such a meeting.5 Harry also informed the Secretary-General that, if Fretilin could designate such a location, and if it were accessible and the Indonesians and PGET had given the required assurances of safety, Australia would be prepared to consider a request from the United Nations for help with transport. But again the Secretary-General has not responded.
  7. Indeed it seems pretty clear that the Secretary-General has set himself against any involvement at this stage. Winspeare has commented to Davis that Waldheim is most concerned not to cross China, which in Security Council consultations has opposed any United Nations concessions to Indonesia-all of which, it has been suggested, may relate to the Secretary­-General's candidacy for re-election.
  8. The reports we have received do not rule out the possibility of a second visit by Winspeare, but clearly such a visit could only take place sometime after 24 June.
  9. Subject to your views, we would therefore propose to ask Woolcott to decline the Indonesian invitation to accompany the fact-finding mission to East Timor. He might do this late on 22 June.

For Jakarta

  1. Subject to the Minister's views, you should in conveying the decision to the Indonesians invite their attention to our previous advice that Australia has always regarded United Nations participation as an important part of the self-determination process in East Timor, and that acceptance of Indonesia's invitation to accompany the fact-finding mission to Timor was always conditional on there being a credible United Nations presence as well. That Winspeare is not to participate is not for the want of Australia's own efforts. We have been active not only in New York and Geneva but also in regional capitals in trying to generate the circumstances which would have made his acceptance of the invitation possible. In the event, these efforts had not succeeded. We are disappointed, but we note that a second visit by Winspeare is still a possibility a little later on.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/ll/1, xxiii]