Angry protests over Timor massacre

November 20, 1991

By Philippa Stanford

"The flag comes down over this consul just as it will come down all over East Timor", shouted one protester as Indonesian officials hastily lowered the flag at their Perth consulate during a protest on November 15.

Angry demonstrations around the country have followed the Indonesian government's latest round of killing in East Timor. About 700 people gathered outside the Indonesian consulate in Melbourne on November 15. They were addressed by Shirley Shackleton, whose husband Greg was one of five Australian journalists murdered by Indonesian troops in East Timor in 1975.

In Perth, about 80 people, including Timorese nationals and members of the Latin American community, participated in the angry picket of the Indonesian consulate. Further actions are planned.

In Sydney, there were actions at Garuda Airlines or the Indonesian consulate every day from November 13-16, culminating in a 1000-strong memorial service for victims of the massacre on November 16.

In Canberra on November 13, a largely Timorese crowd of around 300 was addressed by Democrat Senator Sid Spindler, ALP Northern Territory MP Warren Snowdon, former ALP MP Ken Fry and Russell Rollason from the Australian Council for Overseas Aid.

In Brisbane, a hastily called rally in King George Square drew more than 200, who called on the Australian government to end military ties with the Indonesian government.

"The Australian government can no longer hide behind rhetoric. We must call on the Australian government to end military aid to Indonesia and to impose trade sanctions just as we have with other countries with records of human rights violations", said Gary Gibson, Labor MP for Moreton.

"In September 1990, Prime Minister Bob Hawke said 'Big countries cannot invade small countries and get away with it'. Perhaps this only applies when oil is involved", said Democrat Senator Cheryl Kernot.

Colin Pemul, secretary of Action Solidarity Indonesia (Aksi), laid a wreath to commemorate the people who died in East Timor. "Fellow Aksi member Kamal Bamadhaj was a valuable and respected activist. His death will not be in vain and has made us more determined than ever to continue the struggle for freedom", said Pemul.

Speakers from Australian Aid for Ireland, the Democratic Socialist Party, the East Timor Freedom Movement, the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action, the Anti-Aidex Campaign and the Palestinian community also declared their solidarity with East Timor's struggle.

The protest ended at the Garuda Airlines office, to be followed by a public meeting called by Aksi Brisbane, addressed by East Timor person Alfonso Cortereal and Colin Pemul. Further actions are planned for December 7, the anniversary of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. For more information about Aksi Brisbane ring Philippa or Colin on 358 4875.

In Adelaide, about 300 people gathered outside Garuda Airlines on November 16, where they were addressed by state MPs Ian Gilfillan (Democrats) and Kerry Roberts (ALP) as well as speakers from the Timorese community, the Campaign for an Independent East Timor, Amnesty International and Aksi.

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