Dili massacre commemorated
November 12 was the seventh anniversary of the massacre by Indonesian troops of 270 East Timorese at the Santa Cruz cemetery. The unarmed East Timorese were attending the funeral of a student who had died during an earlier raid on a church. East Timorese refugees and solidarity activists in Australia marked the anniversary with marches and rallies in many cities.
From Melbourne, Jo Williams reports that 300 people attended a rally organised by a broad coalition of solidarity organisations. The crowd heard from several speakers, including Alex Tilman and Joaquin Santos from the National Council of Timorese Resistance, trade union leaders and solidarity activists. Members of the Timorese National Youth Resistance (RNJT) performed poetry and freedom songs.
RNJT also organised a vigil opposite the Indonesian consulate on November 11-14 , where supporters displayed banners, information and wooden crosses bearing the names of the victims of the Dili massacre.
The rally marched to the Garuda Indonesia offices, (the airline company has direct links to the Suharto family), chanting "Indonesia out of East Timor, freedom now!". At one point during the march, the marchers dropped to the ground in a symbolic re-enactment of the Dili massacre, with members of RNJT acting as Indonesian soldiers.
Speakers on an open platform afterwards stressed the need to maintain pressure on the Australian government and continue public protests in solidarity with the movements for democracy in Indonesia and freedom for East Timor.
In Adelaide, says Bronwen Beechey, several dozen people attended a rally in Rundle Mall organised by the Campaign for an Independent East Timor.
Speakers included representatives of CIET, Young Christian Workers, Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET), the Greens and the Democrats. They pointed out that despite the Suharto's resignation, the situation for the East Timorese has not improved.
The Australian government's role in propping up the dictatorship was highlighted, as was its hypocrisy towards Timorese refugees. The need for increased solidarity with the democratic forces inside Indonesia was also explained.
Adam Baker reports from Brisbane that a picket called by ASIET and Resistance was held outside the offices of the Petroz corporation. Petroz is one of the Australian companies drawing profits from the oil and gas stolen from East Timor in 1989 when Australia's Labor government signed the Timor Gap Treaty with the Indonesian government.
Some participants held a spontaneous die-in on the steps of the building, lying among placards reading "Petroz profits from murder", "$7.1 million to train Indonesian troops to kill East Timorese. Why?" and "East Timor — Shame on Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard".
From Perth, Chris Latham reports that 250 East Timorese and their supporters participated in a loud and vibrant rally outside the offices of Garuda Indonesia on November 14.
The rally demanded the immediate withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor; a referendum on self-determination; and the freeing of resistance leader Xanana Gusmao and all other political prisoners in Indonesia. It was addressed by Domingos de Oliveira from the Timorese Democratic Union and Francisco Soares from Fretilin.