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

Chega! Launched in Indonesia

11 October 2010

Principal editor, Rani Elsanti, with the product of three years work

Chega!, the monumental 2005 report of Timor Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) is set to be widely circulated inside Indonesia.

Something like a Domesday Book for Timor Leste, Chega! is the benchmark account of the dramatic and tragic history of Timor’s struggle for self-determination, 1974-1999.

The Indonesian-language, five volume, 3,500 page boxed set of Chega! was published in Jakarta last week by KPG (Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia) after more than three years’ work. The Indonesian edition also includes a 100-page summary volume and an electronic version of the whole report text on CD.

Publication was funded by the governments of Ireland and Germany.

Jakarta launch of Chega
The National Library of Indonesia hosted the well-attended book launch in Jakarta on the evening of 7 October 2010. East Timorese were represented at the launch by the current director of the Post-CAVR Secretariat in Dili, Agustinho de Vasconselos, and two of his senior staff.

Speakers at the launch included Benny Harman (Chair of the Indonesian House of Representatives Committee III) and Indonesian historian Hilmar Farid

Facebook members can see images from the book launch on KPG’s Facebook Album.

Chega! ‘A gift to humanity’
Hilmar Farid noted that there was nothing comparable to Chega! in Indonesia, hailing it as benchmark for what Indonesia needs on its own history.

‘A gift to humanity’ was MP Benny Harman’s judgement of the report.  He said Chega! meant that everything Indonesians had been told about Timor-Leste in the past was a lie and that it should be made available to the Indonesian public through the education system.

Pax Benedanto, General Manager of KPG, said publishing Chega! was KPG’s largest ever project and a source of pride and honour for the firm. He expressed the hope that it would be received in Indonesia “dengan hati besar dan kepala dingin” (with a big heart and a cool head).

Obtaining Chega!
Information on how to obtain this newly published Indonesian version of Chega! will be provided here as soon as the information is to hand.

The set is listed for sale in Indonesia at about AUD$100 through KPG’s online store, but as of 12 October, stocks are not yet available.

The original 2005 electronic versions of the report can be accessed in English and Portuguese on the Post-CAVR Secretariat website. They are not yet available in printed form.

Chega! and archives
The print publication of Chega! in Indonesia draws new attention to this extraordinary resource. In turn, its launch again highlights the crucial task of preserving the complete original source material on which Chega is based.

The future of the CAVR archive, a national treasure in its own right, is a key question underlying long-delayed and controversial legislation now before the parliament of Timor Leste. We can only hope that the final decision of the legislators recognises the long-term importance of the archive to the nation and the people of Timor Leste. We hope the legislation will decree professional archival management of, and public access to, the CAVR archives.

See earlier blog post on the future of the CAVR archives here.

Many thanks to Patrick Walsh, former special advisor to CAVR (2002-2010), for information and images on the Jakarta launch.

Resistance Archive & Museum: New database access

17 September 2010

The Arquivo & Museu da Resistencia (AMRT) in Dili continues to lead the way on access to digitised archives of the East Timorese struggle for independence.

In a new development, the online search facility has been re-designed to improve access to the well-established collection of digitised documents.

The centrepiece of the AMRT collection is internal resistance documents gathered from individuals throughout Timor-Leste since 2002.

Browsing document folders
Researchers now find documents by entering  simple search terms or navigating the collection’s database through browsing the underlying document folder structure. Previously, only visitors to the Archive in Dili could access the document folders on a dedicated stand-alone computer.

The predominant Timorese resistance document collections are arranged in folders by year; each year folder contains up to 10 standard sub-folders (see graphic).

The other main sections of the folder structure are Photographs and a Digital Library. The photographs folder contains a vast assemblage of images of the internal resistance and international solidarity campaigning. The digital library folder contains copies of published materials – from pamphlets to whole books. Many of these items come from the collection of Antonio Barbedo de Magalhães.

New document presentation
The onscreen presentation of documents has also changed. Instead of whole PDF documents being delivered from search results, documents are viewed page-by-page via navigation buttons. Database information about the origins and content of each document (metadata) is displayed alongside the page view. Page images can be enlarged for better readability.

Researchers’ gems
Some very useful items caught the eye of this researcher while browsing the folders. They include:
The guide to Jill Jolliffe’s well-known microfiche collection of Timor documents. (57 pages)
List of acronyms (9 pages)
List of resistance members’ names and pseudonyms (52 pages)

The latter two were probably internal AMRT documents developed during the course of building its database.

The new design of the search facility is a great improvement over the earlier version. I like browsing the folder structure and the new delivery method of search results – a summary of types of documents and their quantity – is welcome. While the facility is currently restricted to Portuguese language, this is no serious barrier to using the database.

On my wish list for a future improvements would be an advanced search screen which allowed searching for terms in a particular field of the database. At present a word is searched simultaneously across all database fields, sometimes producing too many results to easily browse. It does not seem possible, for example, to search for all items from a particular donor’s collection (Fundo).

Data accuracy & ‘crowd sourcing’
Large databases such as this inevitably contain typographical or informational errors. Having the data online provides the opportunity for end users to spot errors or offer valuable additional information to document data. Getting data help from end-users has the trendy title of ‘crowd sourcing’.

There are errors and holes in the AMRT database. Sadly, data corrections offered in the crowd-sourcing spirit by CHART in 2009 have yet to appear in the database. Perhaps when resources allow, the AMRT will consider establishing a formal method for end-users to submit data suggestions/corrections.

That said, the AMRT digitisation program, and making the material accessible online, is marvellous. AMRT is setting a fine example to all of us interested in making archival material accessible to present and future generations of Timorese and the international community.

Moment of truth for Timor’s truth commissions’ archives

19 July 2010

CAVR Archives: Priceless, unique, irreplaceable

Upcoming legislation in Timor-Leste’s parliament marks a critical moment in the long-term preservation of, and public access to, Timor’s truth commission archives.

Timor’s 2001-2005 Commission for Reception, Truth & Reconciliation (CAVR) and the 2005-2008 Indonesia-Timor joint Commission for Truth & Friendship (CTF) both hold archival records of long-term importance to the people of Timor-Leste, Indonesia and the broader international community.

Both commissions made broadly similar recommendations on the need for addressing justice and reparations issues arising from the violations of human rights they documented. Similarly, both commissions recommended the creation of formal entities to preserve and provide access to the respective commission archives and to collect, house and provide access to related materials currently held outside Timor-Leste.

Draft legislation

Draft legislation defining the institutional framework for implementing the recommendations of both commissions is now under active consideration by the relevant parliamentary committee. Committee A heard Timorese non-government organisations and victims groups’ comments on the draft legislation in early July. The Committee is expected to submit the legislation to Parliament for debate in September.

The Timorese NGO La’o Hamutuk is maintaining a valuable guide to this process, including background documents, links to the draft legislation text and some critical commentary on it.

Archival principles important

CHART’s brief submission on the draft legislation – limited to commentary and suggestions on specific archival aspects – can be found here.

The final form of the institutional arrangements to keep the commission archives is unclear. Regardless of the structure, some basic archival principles will need to be adopted. They include:

Collection integrity
Any legal action against perpetrators or reparations for victims must necessarily be based on evidence. If material collected by either commission can contribute to any such future actions, it is absolutely crucial that the evidence is protected against accidental, environmental or intentional/malicious loss, defacement or destruction.

For this reason, the legislation should enshrine the need to follow recognised international archival standards and practices for managing and protecting these important materials. Additionally, an offsite copy of the archives – similar to the post-CAVR secretariat’s initial projects with the British Library – should be mandated.

Collection authenticity
A piece of evidence is more likely to accepted if it can be authenticated as belonging to a body of evidence from a documented process or investigation. For this reason alone, it is important to keep records gathered by each commission as separate and distinct collections so there can be no confusion about the origins (gathering process, source) of the evidence.

For similar reasons, any related material collected later by the new institution should be maintained separately and not interfiled with either commission’s archive.

Collection Access
Public access to truth commission archives internationally is a complex issue. Restrictions on access to confidential victim statements from individuals may be necessary to protect the victim’s privacy or protect them against pressure or harm from alleged perpetrators. Allegations against individual perpetrators, yet to be tested in some legal process, may need to be protected to prevent private revenge actions.

These examples need to be balanced against the need for access to the records for reparation, legal, educational, historical research and memory reasons.

In the absence of post-independence laws in Timor-Leste on access to government documents and national archives, the current legisation should define rules on access – probably specifying that the post-CAVR secretariat’s  access guidelines be adopted as an interim measure.

Anecdotal evidence from researchers suggests already some difficulty in ease of access to CAVR archives, despite the existence of an access policy. Hopefully an ethos of public access – within prudent limits mentioned above – will be enshrined in the new institution, whatever form it might take.

Invasion 1975 – Photographs

29 April 2010

Indonesian soldiers inside East Timor, 1975

The smiles of these Indonesian soldiers inside East Timor in late 1975 belie their deadly mission. Under orders from their President (Suharto) and military superiors, they were part of the first wave of Indonesian forces launched to stifle the establishment of an independent East Timor. Many such soldiers didn’t return home. Countless numbers of Timorese died or were brutalised at their hands.

Photographs of the Indonesian military presence inside Timor in the first years of the invasion are rare. This image is one of 52 pictures posted on Facebook in mid-2009 by an East Timorese.

The images, while generally of low quality, are a valuable addition to the pictorial record of the early occupation years. Along with photographs of Indonesian troops, equipment and some senior Indonesian officers, there are also some  rare images of UDT/Apodeti forces and key personalities – presumably in the 1975 post-civil war period.

To make all these images more visible outside the Facebook community, we have created a public album – Indonesian Invasion 1975.

Where do they come from?

Our source got the digital versions from friends at an East Timorese NGO but suspects they may also not know about the origins of the set.

A small subset (11) of these images does appear on the website of the Timorese Resistance Archive & Museum (AMRT).

In addition to some more detailed captions on content of the images, AMRT attributes their origin to the collection of Mario Carrascalao (formerly Indonesian-appointed governor of Timor-Timur and now vice prime-minister of Timor-Leste). Given the varied nature of the images, it is probable Sr. Carrascalao was a collector rather than the original photographer.

It is unclear whether AMRT holds copies of all 52 images shown here, or just the ones displayed on its website (see images among those under the heading “09.01. Invasão” ).

Some of the images appear to be professionally composed. Perhaps they were originally taken by Indonesian reporters like Hendro Subroto who were ’embedded’ with Indonesian forces before and after the invasion.

How you can help

A key aim of the Timor Archives project is to connect the creators/photographers to images swirling around the internet, to get more information on them and to establish any copyright claims. Timor Archives readers can help us establish more data about these images. The obvious questions are:

  • Who took the photographs?
  • When and where were they taken?
  • Can we identify faces and locations in some of the images?
  • Who holds original or better copies?
  • Does anyone claim legal copyright?

If you can help with answers to any of these questions, please send comments through the Leave a reply/comment link immediately below or add comments to individual images in the Album.

Note on captions: Many image captions in the album may need correction. They are reproduced from the Facebook album as found and supplemented with AMRT captions where available. Comments in [square brackets] are mine.