McCully must stop dodging over Balibo 5

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully must press Indonesia to accept responsibility for the execution of New Zealand journalist Gary Cunningham in 1975, Green Party MP Keith Locke said today.

A former Indonesian special forces soldier, Gatot Purwanto, admitted in a magazine interview that Mr Cunningham and four Australian journalists were murdered in the East Timorese town of Balibo in October 1975 in order to stop news of the Indonesian invasion getting out.

“There is no excuse for Mr McCully’s dithering now that a former Indonesian army officer has admitted his unit deliberately killed Mr Cunningham,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

“This matter needs to be cleared up once and for all, with Indonesia taking formal responsibility, issuing an apology, and compensating the families of Mr Cunningham and the other journalists.

“For 24 years, New Zealand governments have swept the fate of the ‘Balibo 5’ under the carpet, not wanting to upset the Indonesian authorities.

“It is no longer acceptable for the New Zealand Government to dodge this issue and wait to see what Australia might do,” said Mr Locke.

“This has been an insult to the memory of Mr Cunningham and disrespectful of his family.

“As a nation we should stand up for a Kiwi journalist killed in the line of duty.

“It is not anti-Indonesian to vigorously pursue this issue. Fair-minded Indonesians will not object to those responsible facing justice.”

Link to article about Gatot Purwanto’s account of what happened to the Balibo 5: