In October 1975, during the decolonisation of Portuguese Timor, five young television reporters travelled from Australia to report on the brewing unrest in the region. It was a journey that would be their last: Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, and Tony Stewart of Channel Seven, and Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie of Channel Nine, were killed by the Indonesian military as they filmed the infantry troops advancing into the border town of Balibo. In the months that followed, a sixth man who went to investigate their fate, freelance journalist Roger East, was also executed.
In this revised edition of the book that was originally published as Cover-Up, on which the film Balibo is based, Jill Jolliffe reveals previously hidden details of one of the most shameful episodes in Australia’s history. In doing so, she brings to light new material about Roger East, and details the 2007 Glebe inquest into the death of Brian Peters.
The result of over 30 years of personal investigations and tireless research, Balibo provides a unique first-hand account of the deaths of the five journalists and of Roger East. Jolliffe argues that the Australian government and its Western allies were always aware of the circumstances of the killings of the Balibo Five, as they came to be known, and that their cover-up of those details was a key factor in Indonesia’s decision to invade and occupy East Timor.
Part memoir, part history, this searing book is as much an indictment of the Balibo killers as it is of Australia’s role in East Timor’s recent tragic history.
'She has gone to impressive lengths to track down those involved officially or unofficially in the events at Balibo, despite Indonesian and United National rules that denied her offical entrance to East Timor for 24 years.'
John Graham, Canberra Times
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'Jolliffe has a long association with East Timor and the independence movement. She was in East Timor when the Balibo incident occured, and met the Balibo Five. Their deaths deeply affected her. Over the years, she has maintained an unwavering commitment to bringing out the truth about what happened to them on that mid-October morning.
'Ever since the invasion of Dili on December 7, 1975, when she was the last journalist to leave, Jolliffe has been meticulously assembling evidence of how the newsmen met their end, and who was responsible.
'This book brings all her evidence together. The centrepiece is the most comprehensive collection so far of interviews of East Timorese with links to the Balibo incident, which highlights the abundance of evidence available for the prosecution of those responsible, among them Captain Yunus Yosfiah (now a retired lieutenant-general), and a Kopassus (special forces) sergeant, Christoforus da Silva. Interwoven with this extraordinarily detailed work are strands of a personal memoir.'
Jim Dunn, Sydney Morning Herald
'In Cover-Up, Jolliffe follows the Balibo story from the outset. She painstakingly documents the investigations of the deaths and the machinations by the Australian and Indonesian governments to keep truth hidden. This book presents evidence concerning the killings of the journalists (including allegations against Indonesia's former information minister Yunus Yosfiah) and, perhaps more importantly for Australian readers, details about Australian officials who continued to lie while knowing full well what happened.
'Jolliffe draws links between those responsible for the deaths of the Balibo Five and their involvement later in some of Timor's worst massacres. It is an important work. This should be essential reading to anyone who defended Australia's pre-September 1999 policy on Timor or, for that matter, anyone contemplating a career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.'
John Martinkus, The Bulletin