Letter: Cover-up in Timor

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I am the cousin of Malcolm Rennie, one of five journalists killed when the Indonesian army illegally invaded East Timor in October 1975. Two of the journalists, Malcolm and Brian Peters, were British. The second Sherman Report, commissioned by the Australian government, although limited in scope and flawed in execution, concluded that there was a deliberate cover-up by the Indonesian government.

In reply to a recent written question in the House of Commons asking what representations the British government had made to the Indonesian government over the years, Derek Fatchett responded that "we have regularly raised the matter of the deaths ... with the Indonesian government. I did so with President Habibie in October and he undertook to look into the matter again."

I posed the same question to Derek Fatchett more than a year ago. His reply was that he didn't know the answer, but would make enquiries and get back to me. He has never done so.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the British government has ever protested to the Indonesians over these deaths. "Making representations" would seem to mean, in Foreign Office parlance, a meek request for information. Could anything be more futile and hopeless than this request for the chief suspects to investigate themselves?

If the reason for this government's inaction is that they feel they lack information, then surely the answer is simple: they should immediately commission a judicial enquiry, which is ultimately the only course that will satisfy the legitimate concerns of the relatives, Members of Parliament and all those concerned with open government and natural justice.

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