IFJ Urges Indonesia and Australia to Act on Balibo Killings

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Indonesia’s

Government to reverse a ban on an award-winning film depicting the murder of

Australian journalists in 1975, and urges Australia’s

Government to raise the killings with Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono

when he visits Australia

this week.


Christopher Warren, a member of the IFJ Asia-Pacific steering committee and Federal

Secretary of Australia’s

journalists’ union, the Media Alliance, has written to Australia’s

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, urging him to raise the issue of the

killings and the ban on Balibo with

DrYudhoyono this week.


The film, which was prevented from

being screened at the Jakarta Film Festival last year, tells the story of the

murder of six Australian journalists in East Timor as Indonesia

sought to annex it in November 1975.


The call by the Alliance

comes as another IFJ affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI)

in Indonesia,

filed a lawsuit in the State

Administrative Court against the Indonesian

Censorship Institute (known as the LSF) for its decision to ban Balibo.


AJI argues the ban, which was

introduced in December, is a violation of the public’s right to information.


“This week’s visit to Australia by Dr Yudhoyono is a very real

opportunity to discuss a major impediment to our two countries developing a

truly cooperative and cordial relationship; the events of November 1975 and the

murder of six Australian journalists,” Warren



“At present, the Indonesian Government

will not even permit the film Balibo to be screened in public. Indonesia’s

Foreign Minister has said that the ban aims to protect his country’s image

abroad. This ban, in fact, has the opposite effect of suggesting that Indonesia’s

commitment to a free and open media is less than whole-hearted.”


The IFJ stands firmly with its Australian

and Indonesian affiliates in seeking to overturn the ban on Balibo and to ensure citizens of both

countries are provided with full information about the circumstances in which

the six journalists were killed.



further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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