East Timor protester jailed


By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Jim Dowling, a long-time peace activist and member of the Catholic Worker group, was jailed for three months on March 22, for a peaceful protest with other Christian demonstrators at the Defence Force Headquarters in the city here last year.

Dowling had been charged along with Ciaron O'Reilly and Josephite nun Sr Kay McPadden with "illegally remaining on a premise" under the Vagrancy Act.

The three dressed in black and lay on the office floor with the names of East Timorese killed by the Indonesian military. They were appealing for an end to Australia's role in training Indonesian soldiers.

O'Reilly also received a three-month sentence, but had it reduced to two days on appeal. Sr McPadden received a good behaviour bond.

"We were all shocked by the sentence", Dowling said. "We were expecting the maximum fine, which was only $100. We had never heard of anyone getting a straight jail sentence for such a simple non-violent sit-in.

"The Indonesian military have been requesting the Australian government to deal more harshly with people protesting against their brutal military dictatorship. It appears the Queensland legal system is complying with their requests."