Jill Jolliffe

Think of Syria today and you have East Timor in 1975–78, the main difference being that the story of Indonesia’s brutal invasion was totally hidden from the world. It was in this framework of pain, trauma, and confusion that an estimated three to four thousand Timorese children were carried off to Indonesia without informed parental consent.

... (read more)

Witnesses to War, an ambitious book, is part of a larger project by the C.E.W. Bean Foundation to commemorate the work of Australian war correspondents. Fay Anderson and Richard Trembath, setting out to document the performance of Australian war correspondents, have tackled complex material. They deal with an enormous cast of characters and various interwoven themes, including the struggle against military censorship, how journalists have observed their duty to neutral coverage (or not), and the changing technology of reporting war – from sending stories by carrier pigeon or steamship in World War I to today’s live telecasts by journalists direct from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book fills an important gap. Until now, Phillip Knightley’s more general work, The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker (1975, 2004), has served as the final authority in this field. Knightley is a patron of the Foundation and an important influence.

... (read more)

On YouTube, the guerrilla fighter Nino Konis Santana is presented Che Guevara style, in fatigues with beret and rifle, against the East Timorese flag. Villagers sing his praises in the local dialect of Lospalos, his remote birthplace. Santana, both a national and a folk hero, holds a revered place in a country which desperately needs unifying symbols. He became the rebels’ operational commander in 1993 after Xanana Gusmão and his deputy were captured, and when Santana died in the mountains in 1998 at the age of thirty-nine, José Ramos-Horta, the rebellion’s voice in exile, declared his death ‘a tragic loss for the People of East Timor’. This was the man journalist Jill Jolliffe set out to find, some four years before his death.

... (read more)

Thirty-four years after the former colony of Portuguese Timor experienced the horrors of invasion by the Indonesian army, the story of the killing of the five television journalists known as the Balibo Five – a persistent subtext of that history – has found new life in the forthcoming feature film Balibo, directed by Arenafilm’s Robert Connolly. In reviewing Tony Maniaty’s related book, I must declare a vested interest: his book Shooting Balibo: Blood and Memory in East Timor has appeared on bookshelves two months earlier than a book of my own, on which that film is based.

... (read more)