Murdani

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This image depicts Major-General Benny Murdani in a safari suit with special forces bodyguards (in red berets) and other troops in Dili. Roger East is on the right. The uniform worn by the actors is the vine-leaf camouflage pattern worn in 1975. The pistol is a 9mm FN Browning HP manufactured by PT Pindad.

Here is how the invasion occurred in real life1:

  • At 0200h on 7th December 1975, several (more than five) Indonesian warships are seen off the coast of Dili. Fretilin shuts off Dili's power supply at 0300h, leaving the city in darkness. Some warships open fire on Dili immediately - contrary to their orders - and lose the element of surprise. All warships are then ordered to open fire.
  • At about 0430h, 400 Indonesian troops land at Kampung Alor (western area of Dili) using light amphibious tanks and armoured personnel carriers. They secure the area by 0700h. The Indonesian navy assumes (wrongly) that Fretilin defenders are concentrated in the western suburbs of Dili, so they open fire, killing some of their own troops.
  • Just before 0600h, nine C-130B Hercules aircraft drop parachutists over Dili. Numerous urban hazards lead to several injuries upon landing. One group of parachutists land in the sea and drown. Other parachutists come under fire from Fretilin while still in the air.
  • Around 0800h, a second parachute drop causes confusion as Indonesian units shoot at each other. Indonesian commanders cancel a third drop scheduled for the afternoon due the casualties incurred.

8th December 1975 (the morning after the invasion): Major General Benny Murdani (chief of Indonesian military intelligence) arrives at Dili airport in the morning on a Twin Otter aircraft. He is dressed in a safari suit and escorted by members of Combat Intelligence Command led by Captain Nurdin (Infantry). His arrival is covered by three Indonesian war correspondents, Djumaryo, Ucin Nusirwan and Saleh Kamah. Murdani meets Colonel Dading Kalbuadi and inspects Dili in a BTR-50 amphibious vehicle along with Kalbuadi and two other officers (Colonel Sinaga and Navy Captain Kasenda).

Killings on the wharf, 8th December 1975 (0900h): 27 women captives, some Chinese and some Timorese, are held at the wharf. Some of the women have children, and all of them are crying. The Indonesian soldiers tear the crying children from their mothers and pass them back to the crowd. The soldiers shoot the women one by one, ordering the onlookers to count as they do so. 59 people are shot later that afternoon in a similar manner. This is how we know that 86 people were killed on the wharf that day.

Between 0900h and 1400h: The soldiers shoot a group of Chinese leaders in the street near the Mimosa Hotel. They also shoot the driver of a Red Cross jeep which has been clearly marked as such. The soldiers shoot thirty persons outside the former military police headquarters.

A Chinese-owned shop has an Australian flag protruding from the third floor. The soldiers are enraged at the sight of the Australian flag. They go up the stairs and shoot all twenty refugees sheltering in the third floor apartment.

Dead bodies (many women, some children) are everywhere in the streets of Dili. The soldiers order some Timorese to remove the bodies. Several Chinese Timorese (at least thirteen people) are told to prepare the grassy fields in front of the port to be made into graves. The Indonesian soldiers execute them in the harbour area later.

East is dragged to the wharf, his hands bound with wire. Soldiers kick him and prod him with bayonets. He constantly yells abuse at them. When he is on the wharf, according to a Chinese eyewitness who was standing a few metres away, Roger East turns away from the sea and faces the Indonesian troops. He shouts phrases like, "I am not Fretilin", "I am an Australian". The Indonesian troops shoot him along with the others. His body falls into the sea.

1 Jim Dunn's pioneering investigations helped establish the truth about these events. See also Chega Part 7.2 - Unlawful Killings and Enforced Disappearances.

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