Activists put Indonesian ambassador on the spot


By Maurice Flame

BRISBANE — Nick Everett and Mike Bryne from the Democratic Socialist Party and Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) highlighted the injustices maintained by the Habibie regime when the Indonesian ambassador Sastrohandoyo Wiryono gave a lecture at Griffith University on May 15. Wiryono had been invited to speak about the June 7 Indonesian elections by the university's Asian Pacific Council and the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA).

ASIET organised a picket of the lecture, which was supported by Resistance, the Students' Representative Council, the International Socialist Organisation and other students. The picketers held a speak-out outside a morning tea with the ambassador then marched to the lecture theatre following the entourage.

Wiryono's talk was predictable. In question time, Everett asked why Budiman Sujatmiko, Dita Sari and six other People's Democratic Party (PRD) leaders are still imprisoned under the previous Suharto dictatorship's political laws, and why other PRD members have received death threats from their former kidnappers. He pointed out that the PRD is a legal party campaigning in the "democratic elections". The ambassador had a sudden attack of incomprehension and responded by lecturing the audience on "cultural sensitivity".

Byrne asked why more than 200,000 East Timorese had died since their Indonesian military's illegal occupation of that country in 1975 and why, if the military are in East Timor to protect the population, as the ambassador had asserted, they are doing nothing to disarm the militias terrorising the independence movement. This question seemed to cause equal confusion.

The audience responded much more positively to the questioners.