By Danny Fairfax
SYDNEY — Four hundred people packed the Globe Cinema on Friday, June 25, for the premiere of John Pilger's documentary The Timor Conspiracy, presented by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) and Green Left Weekly. A further 100 people had to be turned away at the door.
The film was preceded by speeches from East Timorese activist Naldo Rai and Green Left Weekly journalist Jon Land as well as songs by the Solidarity Choir. Afterward Suzie Ferreira, who lost close relatives to the genocide inflicted on East Timor by the Indonesian military, sang about those experiences.
The film itself, the sequel to Pilger's Death of a Nation, began with a foreword by Pilger, saying, "When this film was first shown on the Independent Television Network [in Britain], its switchboard was bombarded with 4000 calls a minute. So much for the myth of public indifference."
From there the film continues Pilger's ceaseless tirade against the Indonesian military's genocide of the East Timorese people, and the complicity of the Western powers, most notably the US, Britain and Australia, in maintaining this order. At the same time as graphically and chillingly highlighting the plight of the East Timorese people, Pilger makes a mockery of government officials from Indonesia, Britain, Australia and the US.
The film shows: the Indonesian ambassador to the UN denying any form of genocide in East Timor; the British minister of state for foreign affairs, Derek Fatchett, blathering about an annual report when questioned about British arms sales to Indonesia; and, in the most memorable scene of the film, the then Australian foreign minister, Gareth Evans, drinking champagne with his Indonesian counterpart, Ali Alatas, after signing the Timor Gap Treaty to rob East Timor of its oil.
As East Timorese Noble Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta points out, the hypocrisy is stark: "First they say that East Timor is too poor to be its own country; then they sign the Timor Gap Treaty".
ASIET was thrilled with the response to the film. ASIET national secretariat member Janet Parker said, "The number of people there was overwhelming, and it shows the real public concern about both the fate of the East Timorese people and the dealings of those in Western governments. The only disappointment was the number of people turned away at the door who were not able to see it, but hopefully we will be able to hold another screening of the film soon."