Resensi the film Balibo Five. A feature film about the killing of the men, called Balibo, has been produced by Arenafilm in Australia, with Robert Connolly as director and David Williamson as screenwriter. The film is based on Cover-Up, by Jill Jolliffe, an Australian journalist who met the men before they were killed.
The book has been a source of controversy because of its criticism of some of the people involved in the campaign for justice. Journalist John Pilger has criticised the reworking of the film's screenplay to play down the Australian government's cover-up of the killings and the removal of scenes which showed the effect of the cover-up on their families.
Attending the premiere of Balibo at the Melbourne International Film Festival on July 24, 2009 at Melbourne's Hamer Hall was the President of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta, who fought for his country's independence in exile for 24 years. Horta alleged in the evening's closing speech that the Balibo Five were tortured and killed by Indonesian forces.
Horta said of the recent changes in Indonesia: "It is better. Indonesian democracy today is one of the most inspiring in the south-east Asia region." Also in attendance were the families of the Balibo Five, who were called to the stage by director Robert Connolly.
Relatives of Tony Stewart held aloft a banner bearing his name which had been embroidered by East Timorese women. A tearful Maureen Tolfree, sister of the Balibo Five's Brian Peters, said she hoped many Australians would see the film and learn the truth about the events that happened some 35 years ago. "I think it will bring to the Australian public what's gone on," she said.
In December 2009, the authorities in Indonesia banned the film from public screening.
The Balibo Five were a group of journalists for Australian television networks based in the town of Balibo in East Timor (then Portuguese Timor) where they were killed on 16 October 1975 during Indonesian incursions prior to the invasion.
In 2007, an Australian coroner ruled that they had been deliberately killed by Indonesian special force soldiers. The official Indonesian version is that the men were killed by cross-fire during the battle for the town.
The group comprised two Australians, reporter Greg Shackleton, 27 and sound recordist Tony Stewart, 21; a New Zealander, cameraman Gary Cunningham, 27, for HSV-7 (Seven Network) in Melbourne; and two Britons, cameraman Brian Peters, 29 and reporter Malcolm Rennie, 28 working for TCN-9 (Nine Network) in Sydney.
While the men were aware that Indonesian troops were to mount an attack on the town, they believed that as Australian journalists, they would not be considered military targets. Greg Shackleton was filmed painting an Australian flag and the word 'AUSTRALIA' on the wall of a house known locally as the Chinese house.
The level of prior knowledge within the Australian government of Indonesian plans to attack Balibo and target journalists to prevent Indonesian military involvement being demonstrated is debated.
The Balibo Housing Trust, funded by the Victorian Government, now owns the Chinese house and preserves it as a community learning centre.
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