400 attend Pilger-Horta meeting



 400 attend Pilger-Horta meeting

By Jenny Long

SYDNEY — On July 16, 400 people attended a public meeting to hear John Pilger and Jose Ramos Horta speak on the situation in East Timor. The meeting was organised by the National Council for Timorese Resistance and sponsored by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) and the Australia East Timor Association (AETA).

Pilger exposed the complicity of Australian governments since the 1960s in the oppression in East Timor. He singled out for condemnation academics, journalists and diplomats who have been a part of the “Jakarta lobby” which has provided the advice and justification for a policy of obsequious support for the murderous military dictatorship ruling Indonesia since 1965.

He pointed out the continuing roles of former Australian ambassador to Indonesia Richard Woolcott, another former ambassador Alan Taylor, who now heads the Australian spy agency ASIS, Howard White and Michael Thorley, who were advisors during Labor leader Paul Keating's sycophantic relationship with Indonesia's President Suharto and who are now advisors to John Howard.

Pilger condemned the Australian government's support for the agreement which gave the Indonesian military responsibility for security in East Timor during the independence ballot. He said that Howard and foreign minister Alexander Downer had known in early March of the direct links between the Indonesian military and the militia terror gangs.

PicturePilger emphasised the role for the solidarity movement in continuing to pressure Canberra to press the Indonesian government to unconditionally release Xanana Gusmao, allow Xanana and Jose Ramos Horta to return to East Timor ahead of the August ballot, force Indonesia to disarm the militias and withdraw all Indonesian troops.

Horta applauded the commitment and success of the solidarity movement over the last 24 years and gave an optimistic assessment of the prospects for the August ballot. East Timor simply needs the complete withdrawal of all Indonesian troops and militias for the ballot to be successful, he said, because the independence sentiment is so strong.

On July 17, a small group of activists gathered outside the Indonesian consulate in Sydney's eastern suburbs to mark the 23rd anniversary of Indonesia's illegal annexation of East Timor. An AETA-organised “Timor Leste” concert on July 15 raised more than $12,000 for the Mary McKillop Institute's Motael clinic in East Timor.

The maker of Indonesia in Revolt: democracy or death, Jill Hickson, will showing footage from her visit last month to Indonesia and East Timor at an ASIET public meeting and dinner on August 4. Phone (02) 9690 1032.