Balibo Five probe test for human rights: says son

Balibo Five probe test for human rights: says son

John Milkins' father Gary Cunningham was one of the Balibo Five, a group of journalists killed before the invasion of East Timor. N07DV307

THE son of Balibo Five journalist Gary Cunnigham has welcomed news the Australian Federal Police will probe the deaths of the five Australians in East Timor in 1975.

John Milkins says the outcome of the investigation will test how seriously the Australian Government values human rights.

The Greensborough resident said the news was “the first in a long series of hurdles” in seeking justice for his father’s death.

A coronial inquest in 2007 found Mr Cunningham and four other Australian journalists were killed by Indonesian troops in the East Timorese village of Balibo to prevent news getting out about an impending Indonesian invasion on the country.

The results of the investigation will to be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide if charges should be laid. Mr Milkins - who is Banyule Council’s environmental sustainability co-ordinator - said the release of the Australian film, Balibo, had played a major role in the government’s decision after it reignited public interest in the events.

``The film has been instrumental in bringing this issue into the for once again, and it’s very important for a new generation of Australians to understand what happened,’’ he said.

Mr Milkins, who was five when his father died, said 34 years of seeing his death used as “political and diplomatic football” had left him frustrated.

“There is still a healthy amount of cynicism which won’t help me get anywhere,” he said. “But this is how you feel when your government has abandoned you.”

“This case is more than the case of five Australian deaths. It indicates whether our government is willing to stand up for our citizens.”


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