East Timor rally on Indonesia's independence day

August 27, 1997

East Timor rally on Indonesia's independence day

By Georgie Arnott

MELBOURNE — As guests entered the back gate of the Indonesian consulate on August 17 to celebrate 52 years of Indonesian independence, they were greeted by other proponents of independence.

The crowd of about 100 protesters packed into the back lane — which was supposed to be a protest-free zone for the party-goers — with waving banners and chants.

Fretilin representative Joaquin Santos told the protesters that activists fighting for freedom for East Timor understood the Indonesian celebrations because "it was people like us that fought for their independence".

He said the protest was to remind Indonesians and the Australian government of the massive human rights abuse and slaughter which has taken place in East Timor.

While Indonesian independence was a victory for human rights in 1945, it has led to even greater human rights abuse under the authoritarian leadership of Suharto, another speaker said.

The Australian government's support for the Indonesian regime was strongly condemned, and participants were encouraged to stay active and informed.

The rally was organised by AETA, ASIET, Fretilin, National Council of Maubere Resistance, National East Timorese Youth Resistance, Sanctuary Network and University Students for East Timor.

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