Resistance radio 1975-1978

21 April 2016

Recordings of radio communications and broadcasts from the Fretilin-led resistance in the early occupation years are rare historical primary-source materials. We present information on known surviving copies and introduce a project to give access to them in Timor-Leste.

Alarico Fernandes, November 1975. The main voice of resistance radio until his surrender/capture with the radio in late 1978. [Photo: Jim Dunn]

Alarico Fernandes, November 1975. The main voice of resistance radio until his surrender/capture in late 1978. [Photo: Jim Dunn]

Alarico Fernandes’ desperate radio transmission (see sample below) from Dili on 7 December 1975, describing the full-scale Indonesian invasion of the newly-declared Democratic Republic of East Timor (RDTL), marked the beginning of three years of direct resistance contact with Australia and the outside world. The radio communications were the only regular source of information from East Timor not controlled by the Indonesian military in those early years.

Australian and East Timorese activists in Darwin conducted clandestine, coded, two-way radio contact for communications between the internal and external wings of the resistance. Occasional uncoded contacts and regular broadcasts from East Timor under the name of Radio Maubere, were also recorded by the activists for later transcription and reporting to solidarity groups and mainstream media.

The public transmissions from Timor reported on all aspects of occupation and resistance inside the territory. Extracts or summaries of then-public material can now be found online in the CHART-digitised, pre-1979 copies of CIET mimeographs, East Timor News and Timor Information Service.

While a definitive history of this part of the broader Timor story has yet to be written, published accounts of the transmission and recording operations at the Australian end can be found in the writings of activist participants Brian Manning, Chris Elenor and Rob Wesley-Smith.

Surviving recordings
Some 250 audiocassettes of resistance radio material is known by CHART to survive in Australia. Almost all surviving tapes are recordings of public radio material; very few internal or coded messages are known. The largest public collection comes from the archives of Melbourne’s Timor Information Service (TIS) and is held at the National Film & Sound Archive (NFSA) in Canberra (see partial list on NFSA catalogue). Other material is still held privately, including a few items owned by Rob Wesley-Smith who recorded them with his own receiver.

rmtapes-summary

Numbers of radio transmission recordings known to CHART to still exist in Australia.

As the figure above shows, we know of no recordings from the very early post-invasion months and the record of the controversial last period of contact in late 1978 is incomplete. It remains to be seen whether more recordings will emerge within Australia or from the archives of the Fretilin external leadership at that time.

Samples
We present here a few fragments of radio transmissions recorded in Australia. Click red ‘play’ button to listen.


Short fragment of Alarico Fernandes reporting full-scale Indonesian invasion of Dili. 00:13 (mins:secs). Source: East Timor Calling/Rod Harris collection. 


The opening segment of a standard Radio Maubere broadcast. 05:41. Source: Rob Wesley-Smith


Alarico Fernandes dictates a message from East Timor Red Cross in resistance-held areas to be forwarded to International Red Cross. 01:51. Source: Rob Wesley-Smith.


Excerpt from Nicolau Lobato speech following the 1977  arrest and expulsion of Xavier do Amaral from his positions as President of Fretilin and the Democratic Republic of East Timor. 05:20. Source: Timor Information Service / NFSA


Small fragments from the final days of radio contact. (1) Coded message from Alarico Fernandes; (2) Awkward two-way exchange between Fernandes and the Australian activist operator; (3) Rogerio Lobato sending repeated message to (unsuccesfully) re-establish radio contact with Timor. 02:57. Source: Rob Wesley-Smith.

Access in Timor-Leste
In concert with Australia’s NFSA and Timor’s Resistance Archive and Museum (AMRT), CHART has initiated a project to make radio recordings available for research and exhibition in Timor-Leste.

The TIS collection of some 200 recordings was deposited with NFSA in 2002. These recordings were given to TIS in the late 1970s by key Timor and radio contact activist, Denis Freney. All recordings have since been professionally digitised by NFSA for long-term preservation and access.

In July 2015, CHART and AMRT signed an agreement for a pilot project on transfer of recordings to Timor-Leste. In exchange for digital copies of recordings, AMRT staff will create, and copy to NFSA, textual summaries of recording content to assist researcher access. At the conclusion of the pilot project some time in 2016, the parties will review the process and decide on the next steps to ensure eventual access in Timor-Leste to available radio recordings.


Kevin Sherlock Collection: Work in progress

28 September 2015

The late Kevin Sherlock, Timor bibliographer and collector extraordinaire, willed his outstanding archive to the Charles Darwin University Library. CHART’s John Waddingham and Cecily Gilbert have just completed two weeks in Darwin assisting the Library to prepare the collection for researcher access.

Kevin Sherlock with his expanding collection, c1980s. [Source: ETRA Archives]

Kevin Sherlock with his expanding collection, c1980s. [Source: ETRA Archives]

Hundreds of Timor-related books and journals collected by Kevin Sherlock are now visible through the CDU Library catalogue. Arrangement and description of Kevin’s vast collection of other collected materials and his own bibliographic and research work on them remains a work in progress.

The document archive
The large non-monograph component of the collection is visually dominated by labelled folders containing collected articles, pamphlets and unpublished items,’chronological files’ containing copies of Portuguese official bulletins from the mid-19th century and newsclippings up to mid-2014. Additionally, Kevin constructed from these collected sources, compilations of colonial-era materials on a range of research topics like administration, health, education, shipping, roads and buildings.

Complementing these folders is a bewildering array of hand-written and typed indices, along with a comprehensive record of correspondence with authors, academics, journalists and activists from around the world who sought Kevin’s always-generous sharing of knowledge, materials and meticulous proof reading expertise.

The particular strength of the collection is its assemblage of pre-1975 Portuguese colonial era materials already mentioned. The post-1975 materials is predominantly published materials from the many actors in the East Timor political issue, including a fair sample of rarely-seen Indonesian government items and a good number of unpublished academic higher-degree theses.

More detail on the collection contents can be seen in Kevin’s 450-page, but incomplete, 2002 shelf list.

CHART’s work
Our first task was to restore order to the hundreds of labelled folders and then add to them a significant number of unlabelled folders.

More difficult was the substantial volume of loose or unstructured materials. These were a surprise given Kevin’s very evident devotion to order but are perhaps a reflection of seriously declining health over his final decade. Our approach was to derive a provisional list of folder sequences or ‘series’ from the labelled folders and sort the loose papers into manilla folder sequences reflecting that list.

The end product of our work for the CDU Library will be data about the collection in the form of a ‘finding aid’ for researchers to gain an overview of the collection structure and to identify materials they wish to examine.

Labelled folders: Chronologies, compilations, indexes, correspondence and much more.

Labelled folders: Chronologies, compilations, indexes, correspondence and much more. [CHART photo]

Missing Kevin
This is a seriously impressive research collection which will be much consulted in the years to come. What is clearly missing from it is Kevin himself. He was the living key to exploiting the richness of his holdings. It will take some time for archivists and researchers to unlock some of the secrets of his indexing work and filing systems to again realise the full value of his materials.

Kevin is however present in another way. The collection as a whole, and in its many parts, is an enduring testament to this extraordinary person. For a tiny taste: a sample of his data sources research for others, his quiet humour, and a note on Dili’s ‘oldest building’ – the latter being exactly the kind of work that earned him the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ moniker from one long-time correspondent.

Accessing the collection
CDU Library is preparing to launch the collection and make it available for researcher access. The exact timing remains unclear; the Library is rightly ensuring that they first have systems in place to protect the physical integrity of the collection for the generations of researchers to come.

Pictures of CHART Work, Darwin, 10-23 September 2015

An archivist's joy: A grand mix of labelled folders, journals and unsorted document clumps.

An archivist’s bread and butter: A grand mix of labelled folders, journals and unsorted document clumps.

Sorting the unsorted (shelves at right) into folders and then into archive boxes (rear, left). {CHART photo]

Sorting the unsorted (on shelves at right) into folders (on table) and then into archive boxes (rear, left). [CHART photo]

kps-4arms_9606

Teamwork: Adding unique number IDs to folders (John) and updating collection data (Cecily). [CHART photo]

More of those sorted, Kevin Sherlock-labelled folders. [CHART photo]

More of those sorted, Kevin Sherlock-labelled folders. [CHART photo]

In progress: Thirty archive boxes (at left) of now-sorted but not fully described materials. [CHART photo]

In progress: Thirty archive boxes (at left) of now-sorted but not fully described materials. [CHART photo]

Introducing the Sherlock collection to a CDU 'Engagement with Timor-Leste' seminar, 21 Sept 2015. [Source: CDU]

Introducing the Sherlock collection to a CDU ‘Engagement with Timor-Leste’ seminar, 21 Sept 2015. [Source: CDU]

CDU Library Director Ruth Quinn with some of the catalogued monographs in the Sherlock Collection. [CHART photo]

CDU Library Director Ruth Quinn, responsible for arrangements with Kevin over his bequest, with some of the catalogued monographs in the Sherlock Collection. [CHART photo]

Acknowledgements
Many thanks to CDU Library for covering travel and other costs for our work in Darwin. Particular thanks to the retiring CDU Director of Library Services, Ruth Quinn, CDU archivist Stephen Hamilton, and Palmerston campus librarian Tita Allom and staff for their friendly welcome and support.

Many thanks also to Mauri Heading SJ for his generous provision of always-comradely accommodation. And to Flavia Pires, a long-time friend and help for Kevin, and who spread his ashes in the Timor mountains, for her friendly support.


Wes: Timor archives of key Darwin activist

10 August 2015

Rob Wesley-Smith has been the most continuously identifiable public face of East Timor political activism in Darwin since 1974. CHART’s John Waddingham and Cecily Gilbert examined his Timor papers in July and will assist him to prepare the collection for long-term preservation and access.

Konfrontasi: Wes being arrested outside the Indonesian Consulate, Darwin, 1999. [Source: Rob Wesley-Smith]

Konfrontasi: Wes being arrested outside the Indonesian Consulate, Darwin, 1999. [Source: Rob Wesley-Smith]

Known universally as ‘Wes’, Rob Wesley-Smith is a unique identity in Australia’s Asian-frontier city, Darwin. An agronomist by profession, Wes brought unbounded energy to his formal work and to his persistent public commentary on Darwin or Northern Territory issues. Driven by principles of social justice, he was directly involved in Aboriginal issues, including the landmark Gurindji/Wave Hill events in the 1960s and 70s. And then there was Timor….

Timor activism

Wes’ Timor work began sometime in 1974. A fragile and fading document in his archive shows the early Australian activist Denis Freney asking Wes and unionist Warwick Neilley to arrange public meetings for Jose Ramos-Horta’s visit to Darwin in December 1974 and suggesting they establish the Campaign for Independent East Timor (CIET) at the same time.

Following the 7 December 1975 Indonesian invasion, Wes became an inveterate letter-writer and key organiser of public demonstrations. He was involved in monitoring and conducting radio communications with the Fretilin-led resistance inside Timor, though not without some frictions with Communist Party of Australia activists such as the legendary Darwin unionist and activist Brian Manning.

Breaking the blockade

ntnews-1976-caa-18Wes was directly involved in several attempts to break the Indonesian blockade around East Timor and get humanitarian aid to the territory. All attempts failed; the most notable one occurring in late 1976 when he and three others, including former World War II commando Cliff Morris, were forcibly prevented by armed naval and customs officers from going to Timor.

Arrested and charged, under political direction, with exporting medicines and weapons, the four were initially convicted but the verdict was overturned on appeal. This story of the ‘Dawn’ venture, summarised here, is worth a more detailed telling.*

Keeping the faith

From the late 1970s until the dramatic resurgence of Australian activism following the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, Wes continued to raise the issue and lead public demonstrations wherever possible. Along with others in the 1990s, he was a key presence in the newly-formed Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) in Darwin.

Wes was banned from visiting Timor in the lead-up to the 1999 independence ballot, but then spent months working with NGOs in the post-ballot chaos. His account of 117 days in East Timor offers great insight into his energy, commitment and not-always-welcomed passion for East Timor.

The archives

Rob Wesley-Smith’s personal Timor archive is a unique and irreplaceable record of his actions and that of Timor activist activities in Darwin. In addition to a large volume of correspondence, media releases and news clippings dating from 1974 the collection also includes photographs and some rare copies of resistance radio contact.

CHART has produced a preliminary guide to material examined so far. Several institutions in Darwin have expressed interest in eventually holding the collection for long-term preservation and access.

———–

‘Dawn’ venture will be the focus of a future article on this website. See also John Izzard’s colourful 2010 account.


National Archives access restrictions questionable

19 June 2015

We examine the same document in two separate folders at the National Archives of Australia (NAA). One copy has parts blacked-out, the other is not redacted. We ask: Were the specific redactions justifiable and what are the broader implications of this inconsistency at NAA?

To redact or not to redact?

To redact or not to redact? Questions on access restriction decisions.

A late-1976 four-page report, apparently from church-connected sources, offered a rare independent view on conditions inside Indonesian-military-occupied East Timor. The report, broadly confirming Fretilin-led resistance claims, gained  immediate attention from Australian media, NGOs and activists and was analysed for Australian parliamentarians by James Dunn.

The report also came to the attention of the Australian Government at the same time and was assessed by its Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) and the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO*). More than thirty years later, the relevant folders from DFAT and JIO were released for public access. The JIO copy of the report was significantly redacted before its release in 2011, but the DFAT copy was left completely uncensored (released 2012).

This inconsistency raises doubts on the reliability of NAA decisions on restricting public access to many Timor documents.

What was redacted?
The unredacted DFAT copy shows that the main JIO redactions obscured references to Timorese, Indonesian or international Church organisations. We can reasonably conclude that the redactions sought to either hide or protect  the unidentified author’s Church connections.

Was the redaction justified?
In terms of personal safety of the authors, there is no doubt that the redacted material was very sensitive in 1976; other comments in both folders stress this. We strongly doubt, however, that the information was still sensitive in 2011 when this redaction was applied – especially since no individual is immediately identifiable.

Formal easons for redactions.

Folios 61-65: Formal reasons for redactions.

The access decision redacting the report in the JIO folder was specifically based on Section 33(1)(a) of the Archives Act. This provision restricts access to any material which “would damage Australia’s security, defence or international relations”. In a close reading of the reasons for redacting this report (click on graphic above), we cannot see any reasonable basis to invoke Section 33(1)(a) in the case of this document.

Our views are effectively confirmed by the access decision on the DFAT folder. Other material in the DFAT folder was redacted or excluded under Section 33(1)(a), but not this particular document. The DFAT folder also contains additional unredacted material about the original source of the document.

What are the implications?
At the very least we can conclude from this example that NAA restrictions** on access through redaction under Section 33(1)(a) are inconsistently applied. Of more concern is the implication from this particular example that redactions in other NAA documents about Timor may be similarly unjustifiable.

A researcher can wait for up to two years*** for a Timor folder to be examined before being released. As Australian researcher Clinton Fernandes has found, challenging NAA redactions after the initial release of documents can be an onerous process. This is particularly so for materials from intelligence agencies like JIO. It is reasonable, then, for researchers to expect the access decision-making processes to be robust.

Regrettably, this present example certainly throws doubt on the reliability or legitimacy of restrictions on access to some materials at NAA.

———–

NOTES:
*JIO was the name of the Australian military’s intelligence arm, now called the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO).
** It is very likely in both cases that the access decisions taken were recommended to NAA by the relevant agencies (ie DIO and DFAT). Nonetheless, it is NAA which takes formal responsibility for the decisions.
*** A CHART analysis of wait-times for NAA access decisions is in preparation.


Kevin Sherlock, 8 March 1934 – 2 October 2014

8 October 2014

All of us in the East Timor archives, history and research communities have lost one of our most treasured resource people. Kevin Sherlock devoted the second half of his life to finding, collecting and then selflessly and enthusiastically sharing knowledge, historic and current literature and archival materials about Timor.

We dedicate this page to his life, work and memory by providing information or links to items by or about Kevin. We start the ball rolling with a pointer to our 2011 article about Kevin. We will add material over coming days and invite readers to offer further information or reflections.

Kevin Sherlock at home in his own library/archive. June 2011

Kevin Sherlock at home in his own library/archive. June 2011

CHART Profile, June 2011

See this brief profile on Kevin Sherlock arising from a visit to his home in 2011. The piece includes a link to Kevin’s own account of how he began and conducted his Timor-life’s work.

Sherlock Collection

Kevin willed his extensive research collection of books and papers to the Charles Darwin University Library. Access to the collection must wait until it is arranged, described and catalogued by the Library.

Kevin’s incomplete 2002 shelf list of his provides a useful insight into the extent of his collection.

Some of Kevin’s extensive collection of books can now be seen in the CDU library catalogue. See here (sorted by earliest date first).

Digitised samples

We present here a few samples of Kevin’s work from his early Timor years. These samples come from the archives of Melbourne’s Timor Information Service (1975-84).

Bibliography,  January 1976
Probably one of Kevin’s earliest circulated lists of his emerging bibliography

Gazetteer,  April 1977
Self-constructed location guide to place names on widely known Portuguese Timor map

Letter to John Waddingham & Maurice Heading, 1977-10-07
List of published sources on Timorese anthropology

Timor study tour to Portugal, January 1981
Narrative account of research in Portugal, February-December 1980

Collection Acquisitions List, January 1981
Materials collected in Portugal during 1980 study tour

Letter to John Waddingham, 1982-11-07
Subjects: Senate Inquiry, land ownership & use, Indonesian publications

Collection Acquisitions List, January 1983
Covers period July-December 1982. Includes lists of Collection newsclippings, photographs, posters & covering letter to John Waddingham.

Tributes

Agio Pereira, Timor-Leste Minister of State: English / Portuguese

Jose Ramos-Horta [2014-10-08]

Tempo Semanal [2014-10-07]

ETAN Timor List [2014-10-7/10]

Sunday Territorian, Darwin [2014-10-19]


Keeping secret (some) Australian goverment archives

16 April 2014

The National Archives of Australia’s holdings of government records about East Timor are a rich evidential and research resource, but parts of the record remain closed to public scrutiny.  We explore this continuing secrecy through summarising a recent effort by researcher and author Clinton Fernandes to access some restricted 1981-1982 documents.

naa-parts2021red

On 2 April 2014, the President of Australia’s Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT) affirmed an earlier National Archives of Australia (NAA) decision to deny Clinton Fernandes access to parts of two Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) folders about East Timor (pictured above).

In 2012 NAA had examined and released the folders to Fernandes (and to general public access), but denied access to 140 of a total of some 600 pages. These pages were excluded on the grounds that, if public, they could cause damage to Australia’s security, defence or international relations or that they were provided in confidence by another government (see details in Section 33 (1)(a) & (b) of the Archives Act 1983 .

Fernandes sought from NAA a review of that 2012 decision but with little result – so he followed standard procedure by then appealing to the AAT for an independent judgement on access to the excluded pages.

Public and closed hearings on January 30 and February 3 this year finally resulted in the AAT’s written decision of April 2. The decision (see full text) kept all ‘exempt’ material secret except for one line on one page and one paragraph on another page.

The folders
The two folders are part of sequence of folders titled ‘Portuguese Timor – Political – General’. This folder sequence, which dates back to 1946, was created and maintained by DFAT in Canberra.

The two folders in question, ‘parts’ 20 and 21, cover the dates 05 August 1981 to 11 January 1982. Clinton Fernandes sought access to these folders because they cover the period of a late-1981 Indonesian military operation known as Operasi Keamanan.* 

Many of the public documents in these two folders do shed some light on what Australian officials did learn about the 1981 military operation. The material judged to be not secret can be viewed online through NAA – see Part 20 & Part 21.

We can only guess how much more information is in the still-secret pages of the folders – at least some of which came from the USA government or Australia’s intelligence coordinating body, the Office of National Assessments (ONA).

Government barrier to fair process
Fernandes’ appeal to the AAT was made more difficult by an action of the Australian government. In January, Attorney-General George Brandis issued a so-called ‘public interest certificate’ which required secrecy for official written evidence and verbal testimony to the AAT. The AAT President hearing the case acknowledged the disadvantage to Fernandes – the certificate meant his representative could neither see nor cross-examine the evidence put to the Tribunal.

A further consequence of the certificate was that the reasoning behind the Tribunal’s final decisions were also to be kept secret – leaving Fernandes with little grounds to challenge the decisions.

The decision – key points
Much of the text of the formal AAT decision is details on the procedures and legal context of the decision-making process. The substantial elements of the decision were:

1. With the exception of ten pages (‘folios’), the AAT affirmed the original NAA decision to deny access to the large number of ‘exempt’ pages. (Decision paragraph 62)

2. After further evidence from the Inspector-General of Intelligence & Security (IGIS) on these ten pages, the AAT decided that only parts of two of the pages could be released (paras. 62-64).**

Why the continued secrecy?
The AAT decision text implies that documents cannot be exempted from access on the grounds of “mere embarrassment” or exposure of Australia or Indonesia to public discussion and criticism (see para 34).

We know some documents from the USA remain secret because the US has asked Australia to keep them so. That is the law (Archives Act 33(1)(b) – so that decision is not surprising. But we do not know why the US wants the material kept secret.

All but a fragment of the documents remain secret because the Tribunal was persuaded by government claims their release will damage some or all of Australia’s defence, security or international relations. But the ways in which specific documents might cause such damage is not revealed.

Only minor clues to Australian government thinking on this can be found in the decision text.

Public evidence from ONA claimed disclosure of its material would be seen by other (hostile ?) parties or could damage relationships with ‘international partner agencies’ which, in turn could damage the broader security/defence relationships (paras 55-56). This is the standard general case made against release of any intelligence agency material and is not a revelation.

The same ONA official also referred to current tensions between Australia and Indonesia as a factor – implying that anything which might exacerbate the tensions was against Australia’s interests (para 57). Again, these are standard arguments which have been asserted by successive Australian administrations for decades.

Comment
We can only speculate on the specific reasons for the continued need to keep secret 30-year-old archives about Timor. Readers are invited to add their own thoughts by way of ‘Comments’.

The most likely reasons are to do with developing and maintaining Australia-US-Indonesia security and intelligence relationships – but beyond that, who knows? Another possibility is that some of the exempt information reveals high quality information about Indonesian military activities in 1981 and/or points the finger at the role of particular Indonesian military individuals still in service or public life.

Whatever the reasons, the Australian government and its agencies are strongly protecting some information from public access. So concerned with continuing the secrecy, the Australian government has flagged it is considering an appeal to the Federal Court against the AAT decision to release those tiny fragments on two pages. (See: Paragraph 6 part 4 of this subsequent April 8 decision of the AAT).

One partial solution to this overall problem may lie with Indonesian and US citizens pressing their own governments to release their still-secret official records on East Timor.

 – – – – – – – – – – –

* The operation was notable for its use of a ‘fence of legs’ (pagar betis) tactic in which large numbers of Timorese civilians were conscripted to assist Indonesia forces to sweep through the territory to capture the Fretilin-led resistance. There were fears at the time that this forced conscription could lead to serious food shortages in rural Timor. This operation also resulted in thousands of East Timorese being incarcerated on Atauro Island.

** Parts to be released: The first line of the hand-written text on Part 21, folio 130 and the first paragraph of Part 21, folio 133.

 


Andrew McNaughtan video archive: CHART work

25 July 2013

CHART’s Cecily Gilbert and John Waddingham recently spent two weeks in residence at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra examining the video collection of prominent 1990s Timor activist Dr Andrew McNaughtan (1954-2003).

Andrew McNaughtan with Jude Conway and FALINTIL commander, Taur Matan Ruak

East Timor 1999: Andrew McNaughtan with Jude Conway, FALINTIL commander Taur Matan Ruak, and camera. Credit: Jude Conway

The Andrew McNaughtan audiovisual collection holds some important historical footage from occupied East Timor in the 1990s. The collection was deposited at Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) in 2006, three years after Andrew’s sudden and premature death in December 2003.

Andrew McNaughtan visited Timor several times from 1994, always carrying a video camera. He travelled around the territory, recording countryside and village scenes and interviewing anyone who was prepared to speak to camera about life and conditions under Indonesian military occupation.

The collection is an important part of the surviving archival record of this significant Australian activist and the period he observed in East Timor.

Collection content
Andrew McNaughtan’s video for the 1994-1998 period contains rare material, some of which is probably unique. Raw footage of particular note for this period includes:

  • Extensive coverage of the 1998 university ‘Student Dialogues’ process
  • Smuggled Indonesian recordings of post-demonstration detentions and interrogations
  • Interviews with Church personnel, including priests, nuns and Monsignor Belo
  • Interviews with ordinary Timorese on military occupation, human rights violations, food production and shortages
  • Some marvellous scenes of countryside, jubilant pre-independence crowds, religious ceremonies and devotions

McNaughtan’s extensive record of the historic ‘Student Dialogues’ throughout East Timor in the second half of 1998 is especially interesting. He travelled with the student convoys from Dili to various centres across the territory, recording the public rallies and the obstructions they experienced from civilian and military officials.

Teamwork: NFSA’s Tim Cowie (left) and Tenille Hands (third from left) with John Waddingham and Cecily Gilbert.

CHART work
CHART’s two weeks at NFSA was devoted to viewing the McNaughtan material and recording data about the collection content for NFSA’s online catalogue.

The project provided a number of challenges – not least of which was trying to determine the date and location of some 100 different recordings. CHART’s final data set on the collection is far from perfect. Much work remains to be done to more accurately identify people, places, events and spoken content.

Our data on the collection will be available through this website when it becomes available on the NFSA catalogue in coming weeks.

Access to collection
The collection will be available for viewing at NFSA after it is catalogued.

CHART also nominated some sixty tapes for special digitisation by NFSA which will enable that footage to be viewed through NFSA offices or agencies in most Australian capitals.

NFSA has a longer term plan to make footage like this accessible online through its own website. NFSA also has adopted in recent years an in-principle commitment to ensuring key Timor archival materials are eventually accessible to East Timorese through Timor-Leste’s own archival institutions.

Further information on Andrew McNaughtan:
1. Document archives: CHART work and list.
2. Jude Conway’s photographic testimonial (on Clinton Fernandes website)
3. Collected reflections by friends and colleagues.