Union Songs

The Dili Massacre (12 November 1991)

Words by Ian Hodges©Ian Hodges 1993
Tune by Denis Rice©Denis Rice 2010

- [play]

Australia stops one minute and suspends all work and play,
While poppies bloom in Flanders Fields two continents away.
Eleventh month, eleventh day, and on eleventh hour,
The Anzac Legend fresh that day – but next day it turns sour.

They held a Mass in Dili – twelve November ninety-one,
Remembrance for the murder of young Gomez by the gun.
He was just one of thousands the invaders blew away;
Four thousand came to mourn him and to demonstrate that day.

Sutrismo set the plot: "Those ill-bred people must be shot!"
And wheels were set in motion to exterminate the lot.
Their torture victims told them of the demonstration date;
So soldiers quietly waited near the Santa Cruz Cemet’ry gate.

The mourners carried flowers and also banners well concealed;
They marched off to the graveyard where their banners were revealed.
"Vive Xanana!" they cried, and "Vive Fretilin!" as well;
The Indonesian marksmen showed no mercy as they fell.

"Vive Xanana!" they cried, and "Vive Fretilin!" as well;
"Vive Xanana!" they cried, and "Vive Fretilin!" as well.

The military killers fired into the unarmed crowd,
Anger at these people who were broken yet unbowed.
No child or mother, old or young, were spared the hail of lead;
On a victim lying wounded, they used rocks to crush his head.

The military hospital brought tender loving care,
The wounded who were dragged there, force-fed poison for their fare.
The injured ones left over whom the doctors didn’t kill
Were crushed beneath the wheels of trucks until their screams were still.


No Tianamen emotions when Bob Hawke received the news,
A diplomatic time-bomb which he hastened to defuse:
Some deaths in Dili? Don’t be silly! Whitewash the event.
"An aberration," Gareth says, "a one-off incident."

The Timor Gap Oil Treaty, I did sincerely sign –
That wealth beneath the ocean made Suharto friend of mine.
We’ll just ask him politely to ease up on the slaughter,
We’ll tell him he’s a nice old man, but that he shouldn’t oughter.

We grovelled to Suharto, our leaders shamed our land;
They minimised the murders and they shook Suharto’s hand.
November twelve, Jakarta’s day of infamy and shame,
But Sutrismo was promoted and absolved of any blame.


Our Foreign Office boffins put the matter safe to bed;
Four hundred gentle people swelled two-hundred thousand dead;
Would their deaths be rightly honoured? Was their sacrifice in vain?
May the Indonesian people break the militaristic chain.

But the courage of the students with that flashing of a smile,
As they raised their banners proudly for the freedom of their isle,
Lit a beacon for humanity and ranks them evermore
With the men who fell along the Somme and on the Fatal Shore.



Many thanks to Ian Hodges and Denis Rice for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection.