East Timor: remember the Santa Cruz Martyrs

The Santa Cruz Massacre that was carried out 30 years ago by the Indonesian military (TNI) on 12 November 1991 was one of the worst massacres that occurred during Indonesia’s illegal and brutal 24 year occupation of East Timor. 

On that day, a crowd of East Timorese people gathered for the funeral of  a young East Timorese man – Sebastiao Gomes – who had been murdered by the TNI in the Motael Church in Dili. The funeral procession  became a peaceful protest march against TNI brutality and its perticipants demanded independence for East Timor.

When the procession reached the Santa Cruz ceremony, Indonesian soldiers fired machine guns into the unarmed civilians. Over 270 people were killed and the TNI carried out shocking human rights abuses as well as follow up massacres of those suspected of being witness to the original massacre.

 Unknown to TNI officers, British filmmaker and journalist Christopher Wenner – also known as Max Stahl – was at the cemetry and he hid behind gravestones and filmed the massacre as Indonesian soldiers fired on the peaceful East Timorese mourners.

Afterwards, he hid the film in the cemetry before being searched by Indonesian soldiers. Later that night, he returned to retrieve it and later it was successfully smuggled out of the country.

The Santa Cruz Massacre, tragically was not the last massacre committed by the TNI against the East Timorese people, but because of Max Stahl’s  film footage along with the reports of 2 American journalists – Amy Goodman and Alan Nairn, who were also present, the massacre showed to the world the extent of the TNI brutality against the East Timorese people. Up until then, the TNI had virtually closed off the country from the outside world apart from a visit by Pope John Paul 2 in 1989. 

It should be also mentioned that Goodman and Nairn almost shot by Indonesian soldiers and Nairn was savagely beaten with rifle butts causing him a fracture to the skull. Stahl, Goodman and Nairn showed great courage to bring this news to the world.

The lies of the Indonesian dictatorship were exposed and caused people to question US leaders and those of its allies who had aided and abetted the TNI and acted as apologists for its illegal and brutal occupation of East Timor.

The East Timorese finally gained their independence in 2002 after the UN peacekeeping force INTERFET entered the country in 1999 to force the TNI out after it committed other massacres following the successful UN administered independence referendum.

It is indeed tragic that on the 30th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre, it will also be the day of the funeral of Max Stahl. Sadly Max – a father of four – died on 27 October  in Brisbane surrounded by his wife, Dr Ingrid Bucens, and family after battling cancer since 2012.

As Jose Ramos Horta – 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, and former Timor-Leste PM and president has said Max Stahl will be cherished as a great hero by all the East Timorese people who fought for their independence and this is also true of all those people in many countries around the world who  worked in solidarity with their just cause.

On 12 November 2021, we commemorate those lives lost at Santa Cruz and express our sadness at the loss of Max Stahl who made Ssuch a great contribution to the independence of Timor-Leste. 

We express our heartfelt condolences to Dr Bucens and the family at the loss of their husband and father.

Details about Max’s funeral  are below.

REMEMBER THE SANTA CRUZ MARTYRS & ALL VICTIMS OF THE TNI!

VIVA MAX STAHL RIP!

VIVA TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE!

Andy Alcock   Ordem de Timor-Leste (Medalha)

Information Officer

AETFA SA Inc  

Phone:    61 8 83710480 

                   0457 827 014   

Email:     andyalcock@internode.on.net       

SUPPORT PROJECTS IN TIMOR-LESTE:

Please buy a ticket on line in the Community lottery

You can buy them here:https://communitylottery.peopleschoice.com.au/products/australia-east-timor-friendship-association-sa?_pos=1&_sid=b4b88d6c0&_ss=r3)

DETAILS OF MAX STAHL’S FUNERAL

The funeral Mass will occur in Brisbane’s St Stephen’s Catholic Cathedral  at 10am (Queensland time; 11am EDST 10.30 am CDST ) on Friday 12 November 2021 and following it there will be a private cremation.


The following information about the funeral was sent by Ros Dunlop – a friend of Max and the East Timorese people:

URL for the Facebook Live Stream of the CAMSTL facebook page.https://www.facebook.com/events/396200418886478/

St. Stephens Cathedral in Brisbane provides a live broadcast at the following sites:- either:1. via the Archdiocesan website address:https://brisbanecatholic.org.au/multimedia/web-cast/or2. via the Archdiocesan You tube channel:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtMvvL7ahHez7fMR8yuPfXw

After the Funeral, a recording will be available on demand (from about 45 minutes after conclusion) at either https://brisbanecatholic.org.au/mult…/on-demand-web-casts/
or
https://www.youtube.com/playlist

[NOTE:A second ceremony will be held in Dili, but is yet to be finalised. It will probably be held in mid-December to coincide with Max’s ashes arriving back home].

AETFA SA – 46 YEARS OF SOLIDARITY WITH TIMOR-LESTE FOR INDEPENDENCE & JUSTICE

  (AETFA SA was originally the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA until Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002

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