HL Deb 22 July 1996 vol 574 cc85-6WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Indonesian Government has yet responded to the Australian request for its views on how to seek further clarification, within Indonesia, of the event surrounding the deaths of five Australian-based newsmen, including two British citizens, Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters, on 16th October 1975, following the report on the crime, dated 21st June 1996, by Mr. Tom Sherman to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the hon. Alexander Downer MP; and whether they have expressed any interest to the Indonesian authorities in receiving statements from persons in Indonesia with direct knowledge of the circumstances of the killings, including in particular former Colonel Dading Kalbuadi and former Major Yunus Yosfiah.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

The Indonesian Government has responded to the Australian request. They believe that the report sheds no further light on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the journalists at Balibo, and that further investigation would serve no positive purpose, and would only rekindle the grief of the people of East Timor and of the journalists' families. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right honourable Member for Richmond and Barnes, told the Indonesia Foreign Minister on 15th July that we would wish to study the report. We are in touch with the families of the British journalists and the Australian authorities and we are now considering the next steps.