East Timor embassy opened
By Craig Cormick
CANBERRA — An East Timorese embassy has been established here, further straining Indonesian-Australian government relations following the November 12 massacre in Dili. Relations were already strained after the revelation that the Australian government has been monitoring and decoding Indonesian military broadcasts in East Timor and might know more details of the massacre than it is revealing.
The Australian government is currently the only one in the world that recognises the Indonesian takeover of East Timor. The United Nations still recognises Portugal, the former colonial ruler, as the administrator of the territory.
Located at the gates of the Indonesian embassy, the East Timorese embassy has an information centre and about 100 white crosses daubed with red paint to represent those who have died.
The embassy is being supported by the ACT Trades and Labour Council, which has placed a picket on the Indonesian embassy. On behalf of the coordinating committee for the East Timor picket, Kerry Browning says as many as 200,000 East Timorese have been reported killed since the Indonesian invasion of 1975. This is a third of the small country's population, or about 100 deaths every three days for the past 16 years.
Browning says the Australian government should do more than simply condemn the Indonesian government. Following the recent peace initiatives in Cambodia, there should be hope for a similar settlement in East Timor. For the past 16 years, East Timorese resistance forces have continually fought the Indonesian occupation from bases in the mountains.
Kerry Browning says the Indonesian embassy has protested to the Department of Foreign Affairs against the presence of the East Timor embassy. "They expect the government to just move in and take it away", she said.
Supporters of the East Timor embassy are calling on the Australian government to urge the United Nations to:
- organise an independent investigation into the November 12 massacre;
demand that Indonesian troops be withdrawn from East Timor; and
organise peace talks.
There are about 10,000 East Timorese living in Australia, and similar protests have been held outside Indonesian consulates in Melbourne and Sydney.