KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Issue Twelve

KYD No. 12 Teaser: ‘Unquiet Graves: Returning to East Timor’

by Stephanie Van Schilt , January 3, 2013Leave a comment

Image Credit: cpill

For our final KYD No. 12 teaser, Jill Jollife returns to East Timor after a long absence.

Want to read the rest of Jill’s insightful article? You can get your hands on Issue Twelve on 7th January.

After a long absence I’m back in East Timor on a hit-and-run reporting raid to probe new issues and grapple with memories: Balibó, corpses, East Timor’s so- called China syndrome and its relations with Australia are on the agenda.

I set off first for Balibó with my young friend, Elvis Sarmento Guterres, in a car rented from Sebastião and Sandra da Silva’s car yard in Dili’s west. Sebastião is a fine Timorese artist whose car rentals bankroll his painting. I needed to hire a car with a driver and he recommended Roberto, a cheery, cheeky chappie in cargo pants and a back-to-front baseball cap. He and Elvis size each other up slowly, sideways, like dogs cautiously circling and sniffing, then bond instantly. For the duration of the 140km drive to the border they talk incessantly in Tetûm, cracking jokes, most of which are about East Timor’s prime minister Xanana Gusmão. I’m not sure whether they’re derogatory or admiring – they certainly seem hilarious.

Travelling westward along the coast we come to the old prison at Aipelo, used by the Portuguese in colonial times to disembark deportados – political dissidents also known as ‘red legionnaires’ – who were transported from Lisbon to exile in this most distant of colonies. Rebellious local chiefs (liurais) were also imprisoned, some dying here. By the time of the Indonesian withdrawal, the historic building was falling down and overgrown with weeds. In a prime example of opportunism the Indonesian administration signposted the site as evidence of Portuguese cruelty, which it was, but it paled into insignificance compared to Indonesia’s torture record in East Timor.

I ask Roberto to stop because I can see that a restoration is underway – the building has been cleaned and partly repaired and the weeds have gone. Some Timorese youths seated outside tell me it was initiated by the Secretariat of Culture, responsible for heritage buildings. Although the old Indonesian sign remains (perhaps overlooked), there are some new signs outside with histories of the liurais who perished: Dom Felix Damião Ribeiro of Aileu, Dom Feliciano Pires of Laleia and Dom Caetano of Balibó, as well as a commoner called Manu Hada who fought in the nationalist revolt quashed in 1912.

The seaward view from the Aipelo prison is of the Ombai–Wetar Straits, a deep seawater channel key to international complicity in Indonesia’s 1975 invasion. Michael Richardson of the Age published a story in August 1976 on talks in Washington where senior United States officials warned Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser and foreign minister Andrew Peacock of American interest in East Timor being under a ‘friendly, anti-communist’ government for reasons of direct strategic importance to the US.

Quoting American officials in South-East Asia, Richardson wrote that their interest lay in maintaining access to the deep-running Ombai–Wetar Straits between Dili and the offshore islands of Ataúro and Wetar for safe passage of its nuclear submarines. It is the only deep-water passage between the Indian and Pacific Oceans through which America’s nuclear submarine fleet can pass undetected. In the busy Malacca Straits off Singapore, submarines are obliged to surface during transit and can be photographed by satellites. Washington had backed the Indonesian invasion over alarm at the prospect of independence under the left-leaning FRETILIN (the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor), as had then Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam.

Richardson wrote nine months after the takeover, when Australian leaders were worried by public disquiet in response to atrocity stories coming out of Dili. Under the Portuguese colonial dictatorship, access to the Straits had been guaranteed. In 2008 control of the Ombai–Wetar Straits was to become an issue again in an unexpected context.

 

Jill Jolliffe is a freelance journalist and author whose best-known book is Balibo (Scribe, 2009). She held the Macquarie University post of John Dunmore Lang Achievement Fellow throughout 2012.

Pre-order Kill Your Darlings No. 12, or subscribe to the journal here.




9780374175443

Kill Your Darlings

What We’re Reading: Readings staff share their May picks

Looking for a book recommendation? Below, staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month. Read more »

9781926428239

Abigail Ulman

Cold Feet and Hot Little Hands: Abigail Ulman on writing – and not writing – her first book

Post-book deal, every time I sat down to try to write something, I felt paralysed by some kind of literary stage fright. I had shown my work to other people before – for writing workshops, and submissions to literary journals and competitions – but I had never before written a story while thinking This story is going to be published in a book. Or, more accurately, This story idea is nowhere near good enough to be published in a book. Read more »

9781926428239

Sian Campbell

Girlhood and The Woman-Child in Abigail Ulman’s Hot Little Hands

Each of the stories in Hot Little Hands navigates girlhood in some way, from the lives of high school-age teenagers to those of young twentysomething women. ‘Girl things’ such as horse camp, gymnastics, feminised bodies, clothing, periods, crushes, yoga and gossip weave through the fabric of the text. Though the subject matter is often adult – the girls of Hot Little Hands navigate abortion, sex trafficking, young motherhood, drugs, and deportation – the girls themselves are not… even when they technically are. Read more »

amy-schumer

Rebecca Shaw

Amy Schumer and the equal right to be funny

I don’t think men should be banned from making jokes about contentious subjects. I am of the belief that anything can and should be laughed about, and if done right, it can be beneficial. But more often, women are doing it right, and women are doing it better. Read more »

womens-home-companion

Kate Iselin

Trivial Pursuits: The media and ‘women’s interests’

Women, especially in public life, exist as a part of men’s worlds – a big part, sure – but still a part. Even as women become more vocal in demanding accurate and respectful representation, we are kept at arms length by a mainstream media which struggles to catch up. Read more »

SGbTsPQ

Rebecca Shaw

Command and Control: Trophy daughters and overprotective dads

There is no doubt that an overprotective parent is better than a parent who couldn’t care less what their child gets up to. And there is no doubt that most overprotective mums and dads are well-meaning. But paternal ‘protectiveness’ shticks often boil down to fathers not wanting their daughters to have sex, and by extension, get pregnant. Read more »

Partisan

Joanna Di Mattia

To experience the world with blinkers on: Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan

Partisan beautifully evokes that complex space between childhood and adulthood, when we start to question the worldview we have inherited – when we begin to see the world through our own eyes. It is both a coming-of-age story, and an innocence-coming-undone story. Read more »

kstew

Joanna di Mattia

Kristen Stewart Through the Looking-Glass

Kristen Stewart is an actress who has been criticised, maligned even, for an acting style that transmits from set to screen as sullen, adolescent, wooden, blank, fidgety and inelegant. But perhaps she’s an actress concerned with authenticity, and the defining feature of her style is to show us herself by appearing like she’s not acting at all. Read more »

it-follows-4

Anwen Crawford

Behind You: The subtler horror of It Follows

I don’t watch many horror films. Lifelong victim of an overactive and slightly morbid imagination, I regularly envisage disasters, natural or otherwise, that might befall me, without requiring the added stimulus of cinema. Read more »

6428590-3x2-700x467

Anwen Crawford

Nothing Is Sacred: How 8MMM Aboriginal Radio is having the last laugh

8MMM Aboriginal Radio is a situation comedy in which an Indigenous woman always has the last laugh. That makes it a rarity on Australian television. What’s more, it’s funny, which too few sitcoms, local or otherwise, ever are. Read more »

Struggle+Street+KEY+IMAGE

Anwen Crawford

Shame and Stigma on Struggle Street

Struggle Street framed poverty as a combination of genetic inheritance and natural disaster – a barrier to be overcome only through ceaseless positive effort. Those who sabotage themselves through bad choices are therefore fair targets for our scorn, while those who gain employment or remain sober deserve praise for overcoming the odds. The deserving and undeserving poor, in other words. What an old story. Read more »

TheSlap_Show

Genevieve Wood

The Slap: What’s lost when a cricket bat becomes a baseball bat?

‘A cricket bat wouldn’t make sense in an American context’, says Tony Ayres, executive producer of the US adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. He’s right, of course – it wouldn’t. But when, in US playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s version, the eponymous slap occurs as the result of a swinging baseball bat, something’s not quite right. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

DUKMRUTRHLU31425064919799

Katie Williams

The Currency of Games: The real world cost of in-game purchases

A new item introduced in World of Warcraft lets players purchase a month of playing time for the real-life price of $20, which they can then sell to other players in-game in exchange for virtual currency. It’s an exchange of real money for a virtual currency that has in-game value but none in the physical, ‘real’ world – and it makes me incredibly uneasy. Read more »

16741557134_5206bec0cd_k

Jane Howard

Dark Side of the Rainbow: Belvoir St Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz

This production of The Wizard of Oz is ‘after L Frank Baum’: after his book, after the 1939 film, and after our collective memories of both. Fragmented, non-narrative, and largely wordless, it relies on our existing knowledge of the text to build a work of images and emotion, and in doing so demands an extreme generosity from the audience. Read more »

Arts House_Image_10c_Oedipus Schmoedipus (post)_Credit – Ellis Parrinder copy

Jane Howard

A Case for Diversity in Theatre

Attracting different audiences to the theatre is about many things. It’s about accessibility for people without high disposable incomes, but it’s also about marketing and publicity; about creating venues which are physically accessible for people with disabilities; and about ensuring the performers on stage are as diverse as we want their audiences to be. Read more »

2909252617_1f456d0c81_b

Jane Howard

A Working-Class Mythology: Ironing boards at the theatre

In theatre, there is perhaps no prop piece more mythologised than the ironing board, which came to signify the birth of contemporary British theatre. Read more »