16 October 2015
The walking team had spent the night camping by the Nunura river. After a swim, they had lunch in Maliana, home of one of the walkers, and than returned to Balibo for the Memorial Day.
Francis texted: "This experience is a rollercoaster! We're back in Balibo, where exactly 40 years ago the five journalists were murdered by Indonesia. The truth was not to be told... and this is what is still happening today in Maluku and West Papua. Deliberately killing independent journalists, is silencing the truth."
Balibo is situated about 10 kilometers from the Indonesian border. The town sits on top of a mountain range overlooking the Ombai-Wetar Strait. At the peak is a 400-years old Portuguese fort.
In October 1975, five journalists for Australian TV networks came here to report on Indonesian incursions and the build-up of battleships off shore. The Australian flag painted on their house could not protect them:
Greg Shackleton (29), Malcolm Rennie (29), Gary Cunningham (27), Brian Peters (24) and Tony Steward (21) were deliberately killed by incursing Indonesian forces on 16 October 1975. The circumstances of their deaths have been a source of controversy ever since and no one was charged or held responsible.
The house, referred to as the Balibo Flag House, was bought by the government of Victoria (NSW, Australia) in 2002 through a trust fund. It has been fully restored and now serves as a community learning center, dedicated to the five journalists.
The Flag House was the final destination of the Walk against Impunity, from Dili to Balibo in five days, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of this brutal murder and its cover-up.
In the evening, Francis and Sisto gave an interview to reporter Gabriele Dunlevy of the AAP, the same news agency as Roger East was working for in 1975. They emphasized the widespread consequences of impunity.
Francis also spoke about the Maluku political prisoners and showed Gabriele the Maluku Timeline, visualizing colonial past and present oppression.
The walkers initiated a ceremony with the children of Balibo, who had gathered near the Flag House. As a natural-born teacher, Sisto explained the filosophy of the Walk against Impunity. They also discussed the flags of Maluku and West Papua, and why they walkers had brought these, too.
Then, the children lit candles around the Flag House, to commemorate the five journalists who lost their lives while working to tell the outside world that Indonesia was about to invade this small but beautiful country, 40 years ago.
Balibo - the Movie
Fatigued and emotional but satisfied, the walkers concluded their mission by joining the crowd sitting on the ground watching Balibo - the Movie, in Tetum.
"Bravo, what an amazing thing to do. As brother of Gary Cunningham of the Balibo 5, I send you my thanks and good wishes. You guys are amazing. Viva Timor Leste"
"Congratulations on an incredible journey through a beautiful country with such a meaningful message. Warmest regards, John Milkins. Son of Gary Cunningham, Balibo 5 cameraman."
Madre Monica Nakamura:
"My warmest regards and deepest thanks for their commitment for the cause of justice in East Timor and in other parts of Indonesia. That is precisely what is lacking now and here in East Timor. May their initiative incite our struggle for justice in our daily activities!"
Eda Soares Rosa:
"Congratulations to Walk against Impunity! We never forget an incredible journey through a beautiful country and a small town, Dili-Balibo! Again, congratulations and thank you for your time! God bless you all..."
"Despite all our technological speediness, the human world really still moves at walking pace. It is having an impact what you are doing. Never give up. Warm regards"
Justice be done, end impunity!
A luta continua!!