Remembering 1999: ACFOA Human Rights office archives

30 August 2019

It is now twenty years since the historic 30 August 1999 United Nations-supervised ‘Popular Consultation’. Nearly 80% of East Timorese voted to reject Indonesian incorporation and confirmed their long-fought-for desire for independence.

The year was tumultuous in many ways, not least through the depredations of Indonesian military-backed militias. These groups intimidated and murdered East Timorese with impunity before and after the vote and worked with the military after the vote to force a mass displacement of people and destroy most of the territory’s building infrastructure.

There are large volumes of documentation outside Timor which record solidarity group, NGO and government observations and actions about Timor in this dramatic last year of the occupation. We present here a few samples from the archives of a key Australian NGO.

The document sample comes from the archive of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid Human Rights office (ACFOAHR), covering the whole of 1999. For contextual information, we have also provided a link to a full digital copy of the source folder for each of the selected documents.

Click here to view the ACFOAHR 1999 Selections.

The selected documents and their associated folders provide a small window through which we can glimpse the richness of this collection. These records do not necessarily contain many items of great historical importance. They do, however, offer invaluable insight into the interests and work of this historically important office in its advocacy in defense of the East Timorese.

About ACFOAHR
The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) was the peak coordinating body for mainstream Australian humanitarian aid and development organisations. It became became prominent locally and internationally in advocacy for Timor through the occupation years from 1975.

Largely as a result of work of Pat Walsh in the name of ACFOA from the late 1970s, the Human Rights office was formally established in 1985 and closed in 2000. While research and advocacy on other matters like Burma/Myanmar, West Papua and the rights of indigenous Australians, East Timor remained a key element in the office during its life.

ACFOAHR Archives
The ACFOAHR archive is one of the largest collections managed by CHART since the early 2000s. The collection is internationally important. It holds a rich documentary record of events inside Timor since 1975, evidence of Australian and international government and non-government advocacy for and against the East Timorese as well as the prodigious record of direct advocacy on Timor by Pat Walsh and his associates in the office.

For a guide to the contents of this important collection, see CHART’s preliminary box list.

CHART has digitised the bulk of this collection – copies of which will be given to East Timorese archival institutions for current and future East Timorese and other researchers.

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Gordon McIntosh, 1925-2019

11 March 2019

A highly-principled and tenacious supporter of East Timorese self-determination and independence since 1975, former Australian Senator Gordon McIntosh sadly passed away on Sunday, 10 March 2019.

We devote this page to the memory of his unique role in the history of modern Timor-Leste – particularly during the 1974-1999 years of decolonisation, occupation and liberation.

More will be added to this page over the coming days. Links to material about Gordon McIntosh or comments about his Timor role are warmly welcomed.

Gordon McIntosh, visited by young East Timorese in Perth, January 2016

A brief Timor biography

Gordon McIntosh began his working life at aged 15 as an apprentice metal worker in the Glasgow shipyards. Migrating from Scotland with his wife Betty in 1950, he quickly found skilled metal work in Perth, Western Australia, where he was also very active in the union movement.

He began serving on the State Executive of the Australian Labor Party as early as 1952. He was elected a Labor Party Senator in the Australian Parliament in 1974 and served in that role until 1987.

Timor roles

During those years in the Senate he played a major part in keeping the Timor issue alive in the Parliament, despite the actions and policies of successive Australian Governments (Labor and Liberal) to oppose East Timorese self-determination and independence.

In addition to the many parliamentary questions asked by Senator McIntosh, he is best known as Chair of the 1982-83 Senate Inquiry about East Timor and his membership of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Indonesia and East Timor in 1983.

His dissent from the formal report of the Delegation was widely reported in Australia and welcomed by the Resistance in Timor. His dissent played a key part in nullifying the Hawke Labor Government’s attempts to over-ride Labor policy supporting East Timorese self-determination.

Outside parliament he addressed many public meetings in Australia, New Zealand and New York. He petitioned the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in 1982 and joined others on the Lusitania Express peace ship mission to Timor in 1992.

In 2014, Gordon McIntosh was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste for his contribution to the East Timorese struggle for independence. In 2016 he visited Timor-Leste as a guest of the State. During this visit he met for the first time the resistance veterans who had applauded his support in the 1980s.

Up until a few months before his death at age 93, Gordon McIntosh retained a vivid recall of his Timor experiences and maintained an active interest in the emerging state of Timor-Leste. With his passing, the East Timorese community and its overseas support network lost one of its staunchest friends.


Various items on Gordon McIntosh’s Timor record

Australian Parliamentary Biography
A formal biography of Gordon McIntosh’s early life and parliamentary record.

Order of Timor-Leste
Notes in support of Gordon McIntosh’s 2014 Ordem de Timor-Leste award.

McIntosh / Ulun Toos
Timor Archives backgrounder to a ‘lost’ 1988 Xanana Gusmao letter to McIntosh and McIntosh’s 2015 reply.

Gordon McIntosh Timor Archives (1)
A preliminary guide to the Timor papers of Gordon McIntosh

Gordon McIntosh Timor Archives (2)
An online selection of digital copies of McIntosh’s Timor papers.

Deceit, dissent and the verdict of history
Clinton Fernandes’ paper on the context and aims of the 1983 Parliamentary delegation to Timor and the significance of McIntosh’s dissent from the official delegation Report.

More to come…….


Centro Nasional Chega! director visits CHART

8 February 2019

Hugo Fernandes, the executive director of Timor-Leste’s Centro Nasional Chega! (CNC), visited the CHART Melbourne office in late January 2019. His visit provided more insight into the work of the CNC and marked a deepening of our relationship with this new Timorese institution.

Hugo Fernandes (third from right) with CHART staff and Board members, Melbourne. 29 January 2019

Centro Nasional Chega! is the successor institution to Timor-Leste’s 2002-2005 Commission for Reception, Truth & Reconciliation – more generally known by its Portuguese-language acronym, CAVR*. CNC’s mission is, broadly, to promote the implementation of recommendations of Chega!, CAVR’s monumental report..

CNC’s work focus will include the preservation of memory, the promotion of human rights through education and training and solidarity with the most vulnerable survivors of human rights violations in the 1974-1999 period.

CNC was established by government decree law in late 2016 and commenced operations in July 2017. CNC also succeeds CAVR by being based at the former Comarca prison in Balide, Dili.

As CNC’s inaugural director, Hugo Fernandes visited Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra between January 23 and February 3, 2019, under the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) special visitors program.** With a packed schedule, he visited a broad range of cultural and advocacy organisations and institutions related to his CNC work and other responsibilities in Timor-Leste

CHART and CNC

CNC’s responsibility to preserve and provide access to the unique CAVR archive, to expand its information resources and create a dynamic centre for research and learning is of particular interest and relevance to CHART.

In September 2017, CHART and CNC signed a memorandum of understanding in which CHART agreed to provide practical and professional advice to CNC on archival matters. In October/November 2017, CHART’s John Waddingham and Cecily Gilbert conducted an onsite assessment of the CNC archive and library, making a number of recommendations to develop both functions.

Inspecting selections from CHART-held Timor archives.

Hugo Fernandes reported to CHART members on the ongoing value to CNC of the 2017 assessment recommendations.

He also outlined a range of recent CNC memorialisation activities, including:

  • a permanent photographic exhibition of historic events at the main government building,
  • a published guide to historic sites of human rights violations in Dili, and
  • a collection of writings by Timor-Leste’s early nationalist leader and first prime minister, Nicolau Lobato.

Mr Fernandes inspected a small exhibition of archival materials from CHART-held collections, and participated in discussions about CHART operations in Australia, our knowledge of Australian-held collections about Timor and our document digitisation program.

CHART and CNC have agreed to revise the 2017 MoU in the near future. It is expected to include transfers of digital copies of Australian-held archives and ongoing support for CNC’s archival development. We very much look forward to enhancing the relationship.


NOTES

*CAVR: Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação de Timor-Leste

** Mr Fernandes was accompanied by the First Secretary (Political) of the Australian Embassy in Dili, Lisa Clutterham.

Further Information:

Follow day-to-day Centro Chega activities on CNC’s Tetum-language FaceBook page.

CNC’s multi-language official website is in early development.

For an in-depth background to the establishment of Centro Nasional Chega!, see Pat Walsh’s August 2017 paper, Growing Flowers in a Prison. Pat Walsh was a key advisor to CAVR and the post-CAVR Secretariat as well as a member of the Working Group which planned the creation of CNC and a member of CNC’s international advisory group. Pat is a co-founder and current Board member of CHART.

See original Portuguese-language text of the Timor-Leste decree law establishing CNC, along with an unofficial English translation (courtesy of Luis Pinto, Portugal).

Photographs: Thanks to Lisa Clutterham / DFAT.

 

 


Penny Tweedie Photographs, 1975

31 July 2018

Penny Tweedie’s photographs of post-civil-war East Timor are among the best-recognised images of that dramatic period in Timor-Leste’s modern history. The National Library of Australia now holds the original Tweedie photograph collection. We present here a guide to the full set of Tweedie’s Timor images from September 1975.

A small sample of Penny Tweedie Timor images from 1975.

Penny Tweedie was among the first group of journalists and photographers to go to East Timor after the short civil war of August/September 1975.

Prior to this she recorded in Darwin the arrival from Dili of a group of refugees on the ship, Macdili. In Timor she captured images of the Fretilin leadership and its newly formed Falintil armed forces in Dili and on patrol outside Dili, going as far west as Balibo.

Tweedie photographed ordinary East Timorese recovering from the effects of the war, including receiving humanitarian aid and medical attention. She also took many photographs of prisoners held by Fretilin, mostly UDT* followers but also an Indonesian soldier captured on the East Timor side of the border.

Important to Timor-Leste’s archival record
Penny Tweedie’s images have long been recognised by East Timorese as a key record-set in the new nation’s history. Many of her images appear repeatedly on Timorese history and political websites and on social media – though usually without permission or attribution.

More formally, Timor-Leste’s 2002-2005 truth and reconciliation commission, CAVR*, purchased a set of prints of key images which today can be seen displayed at the successor institution, Centro Nasional Chega! It is also known that during his period as Timor-Leste President, Jose Ramos-Horta was negotiating with Penny Tweedie to acquire a fuller set of her images for Timor-Leste archival purposes.

CHART arranged with Tweedie in 2009/10 to put online a full set of her 1975 images as a guide to the collection for researchers and Timor-Leste archival institutions. Sadly her unexpected death in early 2011 meant the project didn’t proceed.

Tweedie at the National Library of Australia
Having unsuccessfully sought over some years to determine the fate of Tweedie’s collection, we were delighted to learn recently that her son Ben had donated her lifetime’s photographic record to the National Library of Australia in 2013.

The collection is a large and complex mix of original film negatives, contact and full-size prints, transparencies, notebooks and correspondence. Timor is a tiny fragment of the whole collection; Tweedie covered many conflict situations in other countries and is particularly well-known for her striking images of indigenous Australians.

See the National Library’s catalogue entry and collection list for more details.

See also CHART’s extract from the NLA’s collection list to point directly to the disparate Timor elements in the Tweedie collection.

Click image to view visual guide to collection

 

Visual guide to Penny Tweedie Timor images
CHART has prepared a visual guide to all Tweedie images from August/September 1975.

With the permission of Ben Tweedie, who inherited legal copyright ownership of the images, we have created low-resolution copies of Tweedie’s contact prints* of all her 1975 film negatives. We have supplemented the images with very brief descriptions of the content of each contact print.

Our purpose in doing this is to inform all East Timor history researchers and Timor-Leste archival institutions of the range of Tweedie’s Timor images and her particular contribution to the historical record.

Note on access and use restrictions
These images may not be reproduced elsewhere without prior permission. Requests for higher resolution copies of any of the images for any purpose must first be directed to the National Library of Australia.*


*Notes:

UDT: União Democrática Timorense / Timorese Democratic Union.

CAVR: Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação / Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

Contact prints: These are direct, original size positive copies of the original film negatives. They were used in the pre-digital-camera era to identify and select images for reproduction. In the case of the Tweedie Timor items, the negatives were standard 35×24 mm black and white film.

Contacting National Library of Australia: See links from NLA’s catalogue entry for Tweedie collection.


Michael Richardson Photographs, 1975

4 April 2018

Australian journalist Michael Richardson’s photographs and reportage from pre-invasion Timor-Leste have a special place in the new nation’s history. We present here a large sample of his 1975 images and seek reader assistance to identify names and places for the long-term historical record.

Fretilin’s unilateral declaration of independence, Dili, 28 November 1975. [Michael Richardson / The Age]

Michael Richardson, South-East Asia correspondent for The Age newspaper (Melbourne), visited Portuguese East Timor and Indonesia several times in 1974-75. From both sides of the Indonesian border in late September 1975 he reported the last days of the civil war, seeing retreating UDT leaders move into Indonesian West Timor. In November/December, he reported and photographed pre-invasion Indonesian military operations in Timor and Fretilin’s unilateral declaration of independence on 28 November 1975.

With journalist Jill Jolliffe and humanitarian aid workers, Richardson was evacuated from Dili just days before the main Indonesian invasion of 7 December 1975. His photographs are a unique and irreplaceable record of these critical moments in Timor-Leste’s pre-invasion history.

Re-discovering the photographs

In recent years CHART and others have unsuccessfully searched for original print copies or film negatives of Richardson’s images. Requests for searches of The Age archives  have resulted in advice from Fairfax (the newspaper’s owners) that the negatives are probably lost.

CHART’s chance online discovery early this year of Michael Richardson’s Timor research papers at the ADFA/University of NSW library in Canberra opened a new avenue of inquiry. With the help of Professor Clinton Fernandes and special collections staff at the library, we were able to confirm the existence of good quality print copies of many of the journalist’s Timor photographs from late 1975.

The Photograph Collection

ADFA/UNSW is now adding photographic data to their original contents-list of the broader Michael Richardson papers. In concert with the library, we present here low-resolution copies of all the photographs, along with an invitation to readers to assist identifying any content (names, places etc).

We have divided the collection into five ‘galleries’. Each ‘gallery’ is based on the original film roll number recorded on the back of each photographic print.

Click on the gallery headings below to see each print set, provisional captions and instructions on how to add information or commentary to any individual image.

Film Roll 1: UDT and others in East/West border area
Includes late September 1975 images of some of the UDT leaders, Batugade fort, refugees, Portuguese soldiers held captive by UDT and Indonesia, Atambua refugee camp.

Film Roll 2: Declaration of Independence, 28 November 1975
Partial record of Fretilin’s unilateral declaration of independence and associated Falintil troop parade. Roll may also include some images of Richardson’s earlier journey with Jill Jolliffe and Rogerio Lobato to Atabae to witness Indonesian military actions.

Film Roll 3: Scenes from Dili & Atauro, December 1975
This sequence appears to record Richardson’s final day(s) in Dili and departure to Atauro before evacuation to Darwin. Includes portraits of individuals and unidentified pilots and Portuguese naval and military personnel.

Film Roll 4: Scenes from Dili and north coast, November 1975
Includes various buildings around Dili, a series on (Apodeti?) prisoners, Falintil troops on drill exercises. May also include some images from the Richardson, Jolliffe, Lobato journey to Atabae / Loes River area.

Film Roll X: Scenes from Indonesian West Timor, September 1975
Appears to depict refugees in West Timor and an Indonesian military parade (in Atambua?). A few images only; may be fragments from the same border area series in Roll 1 above.

Accessing Michael Richardson’s photographs
In a gesture that we hope many others will follow, Michael Richardson has given ADFA/UNSW permission for the images to be copied and used for research and publishing purposes with only one condition: That all image use includes credit to Michael Richardson / The Age.

Good quality ‘medium resolution’ digital copies of the images are available for download from the ADFA/UNSW library’s online guide to the Michael Richardson papers. (Note: scroll to end of the guide web page). High resolution copies are available from the library on request.

The ‘missing’ images
Sadly, not all of Richardson’s images from late 1975 are to be found in his archival collection. Some key ones are missing, including his published images of Indonesian naval ships and aircraft operating off the north coast.

For a guide to other missing known images see this collage and view CHART’s checklist of film negative numbers and physical prints.

We can only hope that, in time, the original film negatives are found at The Age and/or some of the missing prints will turn up in other personal archival collections.

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Grateful thanks to ADFA/UNSW special collections staff Rose Holley and Paul Dalgleish for their ongoing work to bring these images into the public arena. Thanks to Domingos de Oliveira for helping with captions for Richardson’s September 1975 images from border zone. Also thanks to Clinton Fernandes (ADFA), Will Jones at Fairfax Media and Anya Dettman (National Library of Australia) for their assistance in tracking down the photographs.


Access to CHART digital files

5 September 2017

We are delighted to announce the launch of CHART Digital – a website to access digital materials created by Clearing House for Archival Records on Timor (CHART) Inc.

CHART Digital is a project to provide access to some digital files on Timor-Leste history, 1974-1999. The digital files were created in the course of CHART work on privately-held Australian collections.

CHART Digital is an interim access step. The original physical collections must ultimately be secured in a public library or archive. CHART Digital provides access to digital copies of some of these materials while decisions are made about where to permanently house the physical collections.

We expect CHART Digital to provide a unique Australian supplement to the extensive online collections already available through the Timorese Resistance Archive & Museum and CIDAC.

Modest beginnings
This online resource begins with one collection – the Timor papers of former Senator Gordon McIntosh. Many of the working files of McIntosh’s time in the Australian Senate (1974-1987) have been digitised and are accessible on CHART Digital. We also selected a small number of individual documents to exhibit the range of material to be found in the larger collection.

Digital files from other collections will be added to the website as time and resources permit. These include, for example, materials from Timor Information Service (1975-1983) and the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) Human Rights office, 1978-2000.

Feedback wanted
We are calling CHART Digital a pilot project. We are keen to get feedback from researchers on the design of the website and any difficulties experienced in finding or accessing material.

Please let us know what you think by way of a ‘Comment’ (see below) or emailing us at: chart[at] timorarchives.info


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.