Filmmaker Max Stahl died in Sydney a few days ago. It was due to his extreme bravery that film of the Santa Cruz cemetery massacre and many others came to world attention. Northern Rivers’ locals, Russell Anderson and Saskia Kouenberg, accompanied him.
When the 1999 Popular Consultation ended on 1 August, I was a voluntary UN District Electoral Officer busily sealing ballot boxes when CIVPOL suddenly arrived telling us there was going to be a bloodbath and we had to get out by helicopter ASAP. The promises we had made to the East Timorese people prior to the independence vote, that come what may the UN would stay, were instantly forgotten.
Our translator, Paulino, cried out that they were all going to be murdered. To my dying shame I climbed aboard that helicopter which took us to Baucau. From there we were flown to Darwin, but Max stayed on and filmed the ongoing butchery and the wholesale burning of villages. RIP (Rise In Protest) Max!