476 Submission to Peacock

Canberra, 30 June 1976


Timor: Round-up of Developments

This submission summarises developments over the past two weeks on Timor. We should be grateful for a direction on the suggestion in paragraph 6.

Winspeare's Mission

  1. Winspeare's second report1 has been circulated in New York. It has a strong note of finality about it. Harry reports that the Secretary-General intends no further action on Timor unless instructed by the Security Council.2
  2. There will be those who believe the Secretary-General has given up too easily and it would have been reasonable for him to have built on the expressed Indonesian willingness to have Winspeare visit East Timor again. Moreover the Secretary-General also seems willing to leave uncontested the capacity of Fretilin to nominate a site for talks and/or the willingness of the Indonesians to allow this.
  3. You will recall that you decided while you were in Hong Kong that you did not wish to send a further message to the Secretary-General, still expressing our hope that Winspeare might yet make a second visit to East Timor. You made the point that our views are well known and recorded and that should be sufficient for the time being.
  4. Since then several new considerations have arisen. First, the ASEAN countries, in their joint declaration3 issued following last week's ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting, urged that the UN special representative should complete his mission to Timor. Second, some recent Ministerial letters, and enquiries from Mr Fry, M.P., suggest that future domestic criticism could focus on this aspect and assert that, while criticising the former government for inactivity in the UN, the Government has itself been inactive in trying to get Winspeare to finish his mission. Third, we heard this morning that the New Zealand Minister for Trade and Foreign Affairs (Talboys) has asked for a letter to be drafted for him to send to Malik advocating that Indonesia make a further effort to get Winspeare back to East Timor again.
  5. With these developments in mind you may wish to keep open the possibility that there might be merit in making yet another approach to Waldheim about getting Winspeare back to East Timor. In the meantime you may wish to consider Harry's alternative suggestion that he, as Permanent Representative, address a letter to the Secretary-General which sets out Australia's various suggestions about the return of the special representative to Timor.4 Such a letter would be distributed in the normal way as a Security Council document and would be visible evidence of the Government's offer of full cooperation with the United Nations. We recommend this course to you.5


  1. You will know that our efforts to bring about the return of the ICRC to Timor have run into difficulties. A visit by Pasquier and Nessi of the ICRC to Dili on 1 June went badly: they were denied freedom to travel to other centres which they claimed was necessary to undertake a proper assessment of relief needs. Nessi told Woolcott on 3 June that he intended to recommend that the EC postpone its offer of food aid.
  2. We do not know whether such a recommendation has gone forward to the EC. But we continue to believe that the ICRC should concentrate at this point on getting a foot in the door and not set pre-conditions which could frustrate that objective. We are continuing to urge flexibility on the ICRC.
  3. We also asked Davis to enquire ofiCRC headquarters in Geneva whether an offer of a new Australian cash contribution would be of help in bringing about some movement in the situation. The ICRC response was that such an offer 'could be helpful and could be made at any time'.
  4. We are proposing in a separate submission that you send a new letter to the Treasurer seeking his concurrence to a fresh Australian cash offer to the ICRC.

Portuguese/Indonesian Contacts

  1. 'Secret contacts' between the Indonesians and Portuguese inNew York, and later Bangkok, led to a visit to Timor on 20 June by the Chief of Staff of the Portuguese Air Force, General Morais [da] Silva. The visit was primarily connected with the Portuguese prisoners captured last September, but political discussions of a general nature also took place.
  2. It seems clear that Silva, a conservative member of the Armed Forces Movement in Lisbon, and well connected with the newly elected Portuguese President, General Eanes, would like to trade Portuguese recognition of the PGET for the release of the 23 Portuguese prisoners. The Indonesians (Tjan) believe that Silva has some kind of mandate to conclude such a deal, they seem to be pinning their hopes on Silva's reported influence with President Eanes. Cooper in Lisbon is sceptical. He points out that, with the imminent formation of a civilian government, the policy making role of the Armed Forces in Portugal is coming to an end. He expects that the new socialist government would be too concerned about its image in the United Nations and the impact on its relations with Angola and Mozambique to allow any formal concessions to Indonesia over Timor. Cooper concludes that Portugal will continue contacts on the prisoners but will not give formal recognition to the PGET.
  3. Further talks are to take place with the PGET, probably in Kuala Lumpur, later in July. It is possible of course that re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Portugal after 17 August-foreshadowed by Silva--could be managed in such a way as to amount to implicit Portuguese acceptance of the incorporation of East Timor.6

The Balibo Affair

  1. Indonesia has reacted sharply to our request to interview the various Indonesian nationals named by Martins as having been associated with the attack on Balibo. On 11 June our Embassy was informed by the Foreign Ministry that our request had been 'rejected'; the Foreign Ministry refused to discuss the reasons.7 On 18 June we called in the Indonesian Charge (Kadri) and presented him with a Note requesting reconsideration of the Indonesian decision. We are awaiting the Indonesian reply. But it seems fairly clear that the Indonesians have decided (probably at a high level) to cease further cooperation in our enquiries.
  2. The Legal Adviser, meanwhile, has discussed the AJA's submission with Mr Opas, Q.C., (representing theAJA). Mr Opas did not contest Mr Lauterpacht's advice that the International Court of Justice would have no jurisdiction in the matter. He also seemed to recognise that the prospect of the Indonesian Government agreeing to pay reparations was slight; he referred several times to the alternative possibility that aid to Indonesia might be reduced by some suitable sum which could then be paid to the next-of-kin. This idea has also been aired publicly by Walsh of the Victorian Branch of the AJA.
  3. Mr Lauterpacht expects to conclude his study of the legal aspects by mid-July. We shall then need to decide whether to lodge a formal request for compensation with the Indonesian Government. Any such Australian approach, of course, is likely to be rejected. It may in fact provoke a counter claim: the Indonesians have already made the point that entries in Shackleton's diaries, suggesting he had delivered a military message for one of the Fretilin commanders, provide a basis for claims by 'PGET widows' for compensation.
  4. But the main point is that we are approaching the end of the road in regard to our enquiries into the Balibo incident. We shall then need to consider a final statement which would presumably need to retrace the efforts made by the Government to establish the facts and also draw together a number of conclusions.8

Roger East

  1. According to press reports emanating from Jakarta there is a possibility that Roger East may still be alive in East Timor. These reports are based on an account of a Fretilin defector that he had seen an unnamed 'white man'. We have asked Jakarta to take these reports up with the Indonesian Government.

[matter omitted]

A.R.PARSONS - Acting Deputy Secretary

[NAA: Al838/319, 3038/10/1/2, iv