Adelaide campaign for East Timor takes off

Issue 

Adelaide campaign for East Timor takes off

By Jon Lamb

ADELAIDE — The campaign in support of a free East Timor is well and truly under way here, with several successful meetings and events over the past month.

On April 7, Resistance launched its campaign to end military ties with Indonesia. Campaign stalls for East Timor in the Rundle Street Mall have collected hundreds of signatures calling on the Australian government to end the training of Indonesian troops and the sale of military supplies.

Sponsors for the march and rally on the National Day of Action, May 13, include Campaign for an Independent East Timor — SA (CIET), Aksi — Indonesia Solidarity Action, Bougainville Action Group and the CFMEU.

Davey Thomason, an organiser with the Construction, Mining and Energy Division of the CFMEU, explains why his union is supporting the day: "After the coup in '65 there was no longer the freedom for workers to organise in Indonesia. As a result, the Indonesian regime was able to squash resistance in Indonesia and elsewhere — such as through invading East Timor and West Papua.

"The recent jailing of trade unionists shows how far the Indonesian regime will go in suppressing the independent organising of workers. Unfortunately, the ACTU has been noticeable in its silence on this. We should all condemn the jailing of activists in Indonesia and the occupation of East Timor."

Amnesty International held a well-attended meeting on East Timor on April 4 to mark the conclusion of their year-long focus on human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor. Speakers included David Barreto, an East Timorese activist with CIET, Kathy Kingston from Amnesty, Senator Gordon Bilney and Greg Hunt, an adviser to Alexander Downer (opposition spokesperson for foreign affairs), who delivered a speech on Downer's behalf.

Both Barreto and Kingston condemned the position of the major parties and the close ties they advocate with the Suharto dictatorship.

Andy Alcock, chairperson of CIET, told Green Left Weekly, "Jakarta would be pleased about the proposals being suggested by Australia's two main political parties because they change nothing. The Indonesian military can continue to profit from East Timor's resources while they proceed with the genocide of the people. At the same time the Australian government and key individuals can also enrich themselves from East Timor's resources and from the sales of arms and military equipment to the Suharto regime."

"The pressure that we can exert here on our own government is crucial to the East Timorese resistance movement", Phillipa Stanford, Adelaide Resistance organiser, told Green Left. "The federal Labor government is extremely sensitive to any criticism of its chummy relationship with the Suharto dictatorship. More and more people — especially young people — are disgusted by the fact that our government is playing a big part in propping up the military dictatorship."