Tapol & Timor Link now online

6 April 2015


Two influential print journals which extensively covered occupation and resistance in East Timor are now available online.

They are Tapol Bulletin, published by the UK-based Tapol and  Timor Link, published by London’s Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR, now Progressio).

In cooperation with the publishers, the journals were digitised by the Library of Victoria University in Melbourne and are accessible online through the library’s digital research repository. The digitisation project was initiated by CHART.

TAPOL Bulletin
All issues of the printed journal (1973-2008) can be seen here: Tapol – VU Research Repository.

Created by Carmel Budiarjo in 1973 to campaign for the release of political prisoners held since the 1960s by the Suharto regime, Tapol gave increasing attention to the Timor issue from the mid-1970s.

A particular strength of Tapol’s work on Timor was its knowledge of Indonesian language and politics and it played a key role in making internal Indonesian military documents available internationally.

Timor Link
Most of the issues of Timor Link can be seen here: Timor Link – VU Research Repository.

The London-based Catholic Institute for International Relations was a non-government human rights and development  organisation with interests in central America, southern Africa and Asia. CIIR’s pamphlet series, ‘Comment’ tackled the Timor issue in 1982, marking the start of the organisation’s increasingly influential voice on the topic, especially in European human rights and Christian Church circles.

Timor Link became CIIR’s principle vehicle for news and advocacy on Timor from its inception in 1985 until it ceased publication in 2002.

CHART will add links for these journals to its online access point for digitised Timor newsletters – CHART Periodicals.

Chart wishes to thank staff of the Victoria University Library for taking on this digitisation project – especially  Ralph Kiel, Adrian Gallagher, Mark Armstrong-Roper, Lyn Wade and Ingrid Unger.

We also wish to thank Tapol and Progressio staff for their most agreeable response to the project idea – especially Paul Barber and Barbara Patilla (Tapol) and Daniel Hale (Progressio).


Note on Tapol/CIIR archives
The materials collected and created by Tapol and CIIR during their years of public advocacy on Timor will be of much interest to future researchers.

Tapol archives: Most of the Tapol archive is held by the Mario Soares Foundation (FMS) in Lisbon as part of a larger collection of its Timorese Resistance archive. Some 6,500 items from the Tapol archive can be seen in digital form on the FMS-created database, Casa Comum.

CIIR / Timor Link: CIIR’s extensive collection of Timor materials has been preserved but is not yet available for research access. CHART briefly examined the collection in London in late 2013; further information to come.


CIDAC: Timor documents online

16 June 2013

CIDAC in Lisbon has digitised and made publicly available thousands of Timor archival documents.

We provide here a brief introduction to the collection contents and some preliminary observations on the search and access system of this marvellous addition to online archives about East Timor.

CIDAC's linking image to its online facility. Source: CIDAC

CIDAC’s linking image to its online archive. [Source: CIDAC]

Established in 1974, CIDAC (Centro de Intervenção para o Desenvolvimento Amílcar Cabral) in Portugal has been a long-time centre for activism and advocacy in support of East Timorese self-determination and independence. CIDAC holds the documentary records of two internationally known Portuguese solidarity organisations, CDPM (Comissao para os Direitos do Povo Maubere) and APPTL (A Paz é Possível em Timor-Leste).

CHART understands that CDPM, on ceasing its activities, committed to eventually housing its Timor documentary collection in a suitable repository in Timor-Leste. As an interim action, CIDAC has digitised some 10,000 items for universal access. According to the CIDAC website, the digitisation project was assisted with funding from the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

Collection contents
Timor Online is a varied and rich collection of primary source documents and published materials – predominantly covering the years 1974-1999. It includes items written or created inside Timor before and during the occupation years as well as materials from the political Timorese diaspora and non-Timorese activists and non-government organisations world-wide.

One very valuable component of this digital library is comprehensive digital versions of some key activist newsletters from the occupation period. Titles include: Timor-Leste: Boletim de informação do CIDAC, Informações Timor-Leste & East Timor News – Monthly Memo (CDPM/APPTL), Funu (CDPM), Fitun (Estevão Cabral), East Timor News (CIET, Australia), Hadomi (Comunidade Timorense de Victoria), Informações (Gatimor / UDT),  Kaibauk (UDT) and Nakroma (DFSE).*

Searching and access
Access to all documents is governed by a conventional library-type search screen. Three methods of searching are possible – simple, basic and advanced. After several hours of exploring the collection, CHART recommends the advanced search screen for most searches.

'Advanced' search screen. Arrows indicate CHART-preferred settings.

‘Advanced’ search screen. Arrows indicate CHART-preferred settings.

Whatever the search term and method used, the search result is a list of items in the digital library, arranged in alphabetical order by author/creator of the item. The system searches for terms in the descriptions of the items only – Author, Title, Date (year) etc – it does not look for words in the documents themselves. Digitised documents are presented in the widely-used PDF file format.

Initial observations
Some experimental searches are required to get a feel for the collection’s contents and the data used to describe the documents. CHART recommends the ‘detailed’ record format (see red arrow in graphic) for search results because it provides the best picture of each document’s descriptive data as well as providing a direct link to the document (if digitised; most are).

Subject headings: Headings have been assigned to all items. This can be a useful way to find related materials, but requires some search ‘tricks’ to be fully successful. For example, entering the term ‘Cruz Vermelha’ (Red Cross) in the ‘Subject’ box of the search screen produces no results, but entering (exactly!) the term ‘Organizacoes Internacionais- -Cruz Vermelha’ produces 107 items by or about Red Cross.

Alternately, using the term ‘Cruz Vermelha’ as a ‘sentence’ in the simple search screen produces 111 records by or about Red Cross. The same term used in the ‘Author’ field of the advanced screen produces no results but using the terms ‘ICRC-CICR’ or ‘Comite international de la croix-rouge’ in the Author field produces 20 items created by International Red Cross. [See this search results list for these latter items.]

These problems are common to many search systems and can be confusing. One way to help the searcher overcome them is to provide a browse-able list of subject headings and authors to aid accurate and productive searching.

PDF files: The provided PDF files are photographic images of the original materials and do not contain searchable text. Another notable aspect of the files is that some are quite large. For example, Issue 67 of CIET’s East Timor News is over 37Mb in size. This item takes several minutes to download from the Portugal-based server. It would be possible to significantly reduce the file sizes to speed up access.

Congratulations to CIDAC
The preparation of such a digitised set of documents is a formidable task. The task of then providing access over the internet presents a set of different challenges which CIDAC has had to face and do the best possible with available resources.

CHART offers its congratulations to CIDAC for doing this work. Timor Online is a marvellous addition to the online documentary record of East Timor’s recent history.**

* For a list of all newsletters in Timor Online, enter the letters PER in the Call number field of the Advanced search screen.

** The other major easily accessible online collection is available through the Timorese Resistance Archive and Museum.

Many thanks to Luis Pinto for drawing our attention to CIDAC’s Timor Online.

1965/66 Indonesian massacres echoed in East Timor

26 February 2013

A recent Canberra seminar on the infamous mass violence in Indonesia in 1965-66 revealed many parallels with East Timorese experience under Indonesian military occupation a decade later.

CHART’s John Waddingham participated, sharing his Timor archives project experience with those now seeking to build and share documentary evidence on Indonesia’s trauma in the 1960s.

Indonesian leftists being herded off to public execution. [Source: Unknown]

Indonesian leftists being herded off to public execution. [Source: Unknown]

The killings of several hundred thousand communists and alleged sympathisers marked the rise to presidential power of General Suharto in 1965-66. The broad story has been well-known but the detail has not.

Any critical discussion of the Suharto government’s official narrative on the killings, and its subsequent long-term imprisonment of huge numbers of ‘leftists’, was taboo in Indonesia. The fall of Suharto in 1998 has seen the lid lifted. Indonesian non-government organisations, activists and academics are now openly exploring those events – many with the aim of seeking reparations for victims and their families and holding perpetrators accountable for crimes against humanity.

Seminar topics
Held at the Australian National University, Canberra, New perspectives on the 1965 violence in Indonesia (11-13 February 2013) was organised by Australian-based academics researching 1965. In addition to well-known western researchers in this area like Robert Cribb and Kate McGregor, a number of very active researchers and activists flew in from Indonesia to communicate their work.

Topics included the emerging public debate in Indonesia, the local and Cold War aspects of the killings, Indonesian activist actions to counter the official narrative, to remove stigmas still disadvantaging victims’ families, to collect victim and perpetrator first-hand accounts and to document claims for justice and reparations. Several presentations explored the relationship between Suharto’s military and militias and other non-state actors responsible for many killings. The evidence for external support for the military, especially from the USA and UK, was one of a number of consistent threads in seminar discussion.

Komnas HAM report launch, Jakarta, July 2012.

Komnas HAM report launch, Jakarta, July 2012. [Jakarta Post]

Komnas HAM report
A recent four year study on 1965 by the official Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) was also discussed. The Commission’s landmark report, completed in July 2012, reported evidence of widespread crimes against humanity including killings, slavery, forced removal and displacement, torture, rape, extra-legal executions. The report recommended State apologies and reparations for victims and that responsible Indonesian military officials be charged with crimes against humanity. The 200-page Indonesian language executive summary is available here.

The Komnas HAM investigations shows that the issue is no longer taboo, but some reactions to the report suggest resistance to truth and justice on the matter remains strong. Indonesia’s Attorney-General, responsible for implementing the recommendations, has rejected the report’s legitimacy.

Shared experience: Indonesians and East Timorese. [CHART]

Shared experience: Indonesians and East Timorese. [CHART]

CHART inputs
CHART participated in the third day of the seminar – a closed session for current activists and researchers to exchange views, information resources and strategies. While time was restricted, John Waddingham outlined CHART’s program and methods to locate, document and provide access to archival materials. He particularly emphasised the importance of authenticating documents to ensure they were genuine and the need to demonstrate the authenticity of newly collected oral and documentary evidence from victims and perpetrators so that they cannot be challenged as fabrications.

Many exact matches were observed in the language to describe the 1965/66 killings and the invasion and occupation of East Timor. This shared experience provides an opportunity for Indonesians and East Timorese to better understand each other’s modern history.

The strong emergence of a raft of Indonesian activists and others now digging into their hidden past is a marvellous development. We hope that one spin-off from this blossoming will be increasing interest from Indonesians in uncovering documentary and other evidence of their military’s interventions in East Timor.

– – – – – – – – – –  

Useful introductory guides to the topic:

Inside Indonesia special edition, 2010

Online Encyclopedia of mass violence item, 2009

Remembering the Santa Cruz Massacre

12 November 2011

To mark the 20th anniversary of the infamous Santa Cruz Massacre, we present here a guide to recent commentary and some archival resources on this landmark event.

Relatives hold photos of Santa Cruz massacre victims during a commemoration in Dili, 12 November 2009. (1)

The shooting by Indonesian troops of an unknown number of unarmed Timorese demonstrators at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili on 12 November 1991 was a watershed event in East Timor’s modern history.

While other massacres and much larger losses of life occurred in earlier years of Indonesian rule, the Santa Cruz Massacre became the iconic representation of the military occupation of East Timor.

The essential difference between this event and earlier crimes was that it was witnessed and recorded by independent (ie non-Timorese and non-Indonesian) reporters and other observers.

The impact of this event on East Timor’s future was decisive. In the words of former Indonesian foreign Minister Alatas, thereafter “international support for Indonesia’s position inexorably declined while that for the independence movement in East Timor markedly increased”. (2)

Long-term preservation of the documentary source materials is crucial to retaining for future generations a detailed knowledge and understanding of this event. Some of these documents may also serve justice if the perpetrators of the crimes on this day in 1991 ever face a proper and fair trial.


Centro Audiovisual Max Stahl – Timor-Leste (CAMS-TL)
British film maker Max Stahl’s dramatic video footage of the massacre was crucial to international knowledge of the event. Copies of the original footage and productions including key scenes are held at CAMS-TL in Dili.

The French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) houses copies of some Max Stahl Timor footage. INA provides sample sequences for viewing online – including the original Santa Cruz footage and subsequent interviews with survivors.

Some Stahl footage can be found on YouTube, including this low resolution sequence.

CHART recently published a guide to CAMS-TL video footage, including the 1991 material and a transcript of some massacre footage.

Resistance Archive & Museum (AMRT)
AMRT provides online access to vast numbers of digitised documents, including Santa Cruz material.

The 20th anniversary is commemorated by AMRT with a special website presentation which also includes a link to a catalogue search result on the term “Santa Cruz”.

Commission for Reception, Truth & Reconciliation (CAVR)
The library and archives of Timor’s CAVR (now managed by a Post-CAVR Secretariat) hold original records on Santa Cruz, including eye-witness accounts. An account of the event and a guide to sources can be found in CAVR’s monumental 2005 report Chega!. See especially Chapter 3 (p.115ff) and Chapter 7 (p.199ff).

ACFOA Human Rights Office
The Human Rights office of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (now ACFID), headed by Pat Walsh, collected extensive materials on Santa Cruz during the course of its long-standing advocacy work for East Timorese justice and self-determination. CHART produces here for the first time a guide to the content of these files.

This collection of material remains in private hands but under CHART custody where it will be the focus of an extensive digitisation program in 2012 for easy access in Timor-Leste and elsewhere.

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
ETAN began in the USA in response to the Santa Cruz massacre and soon became a key reference point for international East Timor activism and advocacy.

ETAN marked the 20th anniversary with a feature page on the event and maintains a guide to Santa Cruz information and ongoing calls for justice on the matter.

Clinton Fernandes
Prominent Timor researcher and justice advocate Clinton Fernandes’ web-based Companion to East Timor includes some sample documents and a summary of Santa Cruz.

Jill Jolliffe
Microfiche copies of some Santa Cruz material may be found in Jill Jolliffe’s archival collection. See pages 35-36 of the guide to her collection – The East Timor Question, 1975-1996.

The Jolliffe collection is held by a number of academic and major libraries in Australia and elsewhere.

National Archives of Australia (NAA)
NAA holds large volumes of material on East Timor. However access to its holdings are generally covered by a standard ‘closed period‘ of twenty to thirty years after the events documented. Santa Cruz files will not be open for access until 2016-17.

With the exception of documentary fragments held in collections outside Indonesia, we have no knowledge of accessible official or unofficial Santa Cruz records in Indonesia.

Other sources and commentary?
Here is a list of other instances,  from disparate sources, of online Santa Cruz materials and commemorations of the 20th anniversary. More to be listed in coming days.

Forensic studies report (2010) by Soren Blau & Luis Fondbrider

Amnesty International Statement (2011-11-12)

Historical Justice & Memory Research Network

La’o Hamutuk reflection (2011-11-12)

VivaNews.com (Indonesian)

TSF Radio Noticias (Portugal) – includes some great still images of Santa Cruz events.

Sapo Noticias Timor-Leste  (Portuguese language feature)

If you know of other significant archival collections with Santa Cruz content, please advise us and we will add them to this guide.


(1) Martine Perret / UNMIT, 2008. See online source.

(2) Ali Alatas. The pebble in the shoe: the diplomatic struggle for East Timor. Aksara Karunia, Jakarta, 2006, p.64.

1992 Xanana capture: Indonesian records

23 May 2011

Xanana Gusmao moments after his capture. Dili, 20 November 1992

Indonesian video footage of the 1992 capture of East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao is the tip of an iceberg of still-secret Indonesian records about its military invasion and occupation of East Timor.

Aired on Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service program, Dateline, on 22 May 2011, the footage shows Indonesian preparations for the raid on a house in Dili where Xanana was known to be hiding, the armed raid and arrest and parts of a later exchange between Xanana and the head of the Indonesian military, General Try Sutrisno, who flew to Dili on news of the capture. The footage also shows Xanana’s belongings – including weapons and documents.

Questions arising
Several obvious questions arise from viewing this footage: What was the origin of the footage used by SBS and is other material available from that source; will this material be made available to East Timorese institutions for long-term preservation and access; given the relatively poor quality of the footage, does a better master exist; are the documents and weapons captured with Xanana still kept in Indonesia and if so, will they ever be repatriated to East Timor?

Xanana interrogation in Bali – more detail
A further pointer to Indonesian records of the Xanana capture can be found in a 2007 account of Xanana’s interrogation in Bali just days after his arrest in Dili.

Xanana with his interrogator, Lieut-Col. Nurhana, Bali, 1992

Nurhana Tirtaamijaya, an Indonesian military police commander in 1992 and Xanana’s principal interrogator, published in 2007 a personal account of his encounters with the prized political prisoner. Pak Nurhana’s account, while emphasising his claimed ‘victory’ over Xanana, also gives some insight into the sequence of events between the resistance leader’s arrest and his incarceration in Cipinang Prison.

Australian researcher Ernie Chamberlain has translated the Nurhana text. A small selection of images from the interrogation, including captions identifying participants, can be found on Nurhana’s website (scroll through images). See also:
Xanana & Nurhana : Xanana writing : Xanana with laughing interrogators : Xanana laughing

Tapping into Indonesian records
Pak Nurhana says the story he tells was once a State top secret. Hopefully, his preparedness to tell his story publicly means other knowledgeable Indonesians may be prepared to also release their Timor information.

The task of seeking, finding and securing primary records of Indonesia’s East Timor history is large and urgent. We hope this task will be taken up by the people who can best do this – interested and concerned Indonesians.

Thanks to Ernie Chamberlain for drawing my attention to the Nurhana article and, especially, for his translation.

Thanks to Sara Niner for the use of her Xanana capture image – taken from her blog item on the topic.

Nurhana Tirtaamijaya website

Vale Penny Tweedie

24 January 2011

Penny Tweedie, one of a select group of professional photographers who have contributed irreplaceable images to the documentary record of East Timor’s modern history, died tragically in England on 09 January 2011.

Her photographs of events and people in East Timor in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic 1975 civil war will be especially important to future generations of East Timorese. Her contribution to East Timor’s archival record will live on in these images.

Some details of her extraordinary working life can be found in an obituary in The Guardian (UK).

Timor images
A small number of Penny’s 1975 Timor images are well-known – though often circulated on the internet without any attribution to, or knowledge of, the original creator.

Penny was very protective of her professional copyright and was unhappy with unauthorised use of her work. For this reason, we have not reproduced any of those images here.

A number of agencies handle commercial distribution of Penny’s work and carry samples of her Timor photographs on their websites. The most comprehensive set of 1975 images can be found at Panos.

The Alamy agency also displays some of her 1975 images, along with work from a 2007 visit to Timor Leste. A subset of the Alamy images can be seen at Corbis.

Arriving in East Timor after 1975 civil war. (From left) Bob Hannan, Jose Ramos-Horta, Penny Tweedie, Clive Scollay

Many 1975 images still unseen
A much larger number of images from her 1975 visit to East Timor have yet to be seen publicly. In personal communications with CHART in 2009-10, Penny advised she had some 50 rolls of black and white film.

Penny agreed to a CHART request to place copies of all these images on this website;  the mechanics of achieving this must now await later discussions with her Estate.

Tweedie materials already in Timor Leste
Official copies of some of Penny Tweedie’s key images from 1975 are already held in Timor. Some are in the collection of the Commission for Reception, Truth & Reconciliation (CAVR). We know from correspondence with Penny that the office of President Jose Ramos-Horta was given high resolution scans of some 190 images in early 2010.

CHART hopes these images will one day be accessible to all Timorese. We will endeavour to ensure all the as-yet-unseen images from Penny Tweedie’s  Timor work eventually become accessible in Timor-Leste as a lasting testimonial to her part in recording the country’s troubled recent history.



Penny Tweedie image: Self-portrait taken from her own website.

1975 image: Courtesy of Bob Hannan.

More Penny Tweedie obituaries and reflections online

Panos Pictures. 21 January 2011

Lisa Hogben Blog. 23 January 2011

Editorial Photographers (UK). 24 January 2011

Australian Geographic. 25 January 2011

Funeral Eulogy – Duncan Campbell. 27 January 2011

BBC4 audio. “Last Word”. 28 January 2011. Speakers include John Pilger and her son, Ben Tweedie. Segment begins at 15 minutes into program.

The Australian. 31 January 2011

Sydney Memorial Event (20 February) – Media Release. 06 February 2011

Portuguese Timor Archives Online

14 April 2010

Front Page 06 Jan 1900

Portugal’s Tropical Research Institute (IICT – Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical) offers a surprising and welcome entry point into some records from East Timor’s long Portuguese colonial era.

In the Historical Archive section of the IICT website is a link to an online version of the colonial government’s official gazette (Boletim Oficial) for Timor.

The record begins in the 1838 (when Timor was managed from Macao) and ends on 5 July 1975 (a month before the civil war). The gazette reproduces relevant official statements from Lisbon, along with local colonial administrative directives, reports, statistics, civil servant appointments etc.

While items are largely brief and predictably bureaucratic in tone, the gazette as a whole offers a ready means to track the main political/administrative developments affecting Timor over that whole period.

1912 Revolt & 1974-75 decolonisation

During 1912, the final year of the great Manufahi/Boaventura uprising, the weekly publication contained many ‘military command’ reports from the regions, headed by notes on Politica Indigena. A report on a battle at Mt Cablac and a special brief statement on a major (perhaps final?) assault on a mountain stronghold at ‘Leolaco’ (10-11 August 1912) are rare examples of specific detail on the uprising.

For the years 1974-75, a random perusal of the gazette appears to show little of the drama and detail of what East Timorese were doing and thinking in Timor. The publication is, however, a very useful guide to Lisbon’s directives on Timor after the Carnation Revolution and, for example, includes the ground rules for the establishment of a formal decolonisation commission for Timor (April 1975).


Welcome as this resource is, there is room for improving its presentation. The search screen is limited to finding a particular issue (by date) and navigation within a given issue is limited to viewing page by page (which does become tedious). Some of the digitised pages are very difficult to read; many will be too faint for any future OCR process (Optical Character Recognition – which would allow text searching within the collection). For the future perhaps – create a rough index by rescanning the content-summary front pages of the gazettes and converting them to searchable text?


Films: 1950s Timorese culture

Also on the IICT website are short extracts of 23 films (16mm) taken in Timor during the 1953-54 anthropological mission headed by António de Almeida.

In addition to moving images of indigenous Timorese arts, crafts, building and cultural performance in various regions, the samples also include several (somewhat upbeat) sequences on Portuguese colonial reconstruction after World War II.

Links to this set of film samples can be found here.


Can you help?

I intend constructing a guide to other East Timor archival resources in Portugal – online or not. I would be grateful for any information on, or guides to, known public or private materials which I could include in the Collections section of this website.


Credits: Thanks to Susana Barnes (and her original informant) for drawing my attention to the 1950s film records and to Kevin Sherlock for background information on the Gazette.