Churches and solidarity groups demand a free East Timor

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Churches and solidarity groups demand a free East Timor

By Janet Parker

SYDNEY — On May 20, the last of a series of Free East Timor pickets organised by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) was held outside the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre.

Speakers from church and solidarity groups addressed the crowd. They included Sister Josephine Mitchell from the Mary McKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies, Sister Margaret Hinchey from the Catholic Coalition for Justice and Peace, Denis Doherty from Pax Christi and Luke O'Callaghan, a student activist from the Australian Catholic University.

O'Callaghan condemned the inaction of the Australian government, describing it as a "co-conspirator" in the genocide of our close neighbours. "Our continued kowtowing to Indonesia sends a clear message to the rest of the world that Australia values diplomatic relations above the precious lives of civilians", he said.

Others who spoke were ASIET activist Jon Land, Australia East Timor Association convenor Dr Andrew McNaughtan, Riki Stevens from Action for World Development and the Australia West Papua Association, and Resistance national coordinator Sean Healy.

Burmese student activist Maung Maung Than drew the links between the Timorese people's struggle for independence and the Burmese people's fight against the dictatorship in their country.

An emergency appeal for freedom for East Timor was distributed to hundreds of passers-by and hundreds of signatures were gathered on the ASIET petition demanding the total withdrawal of the Indonesian military from East Timor and the disarming of its terror gangs.