By James Smith and Vannessa Hearman
An outstanding documentary about the Indonesian political underground, Indonesia in Revolt: Democracy or Death, had its Sydney premier screening at the Globe Cinema on April 23 to an audience of 380 people. The event raised around $3000 to assist the people's struggles in Indonesia and East Timor.
The film's director, Jill Hickson, explained that the film belongs to the many thousands of Indonesian students and activists who risk their lives daily in the struggle for full democracy, social justice and freedom. She added, "Aside from documenting the clashes with Suharto's military and the mobilisations of students, workers and others, our aim was to allow Indonesian activists to speak for themselves to explain what they achieved and how, and what is still to come".
Hickson said the film, which was produced without government or corporate funding, would have cost at least $200,000 if produced commercially. "This is a tribute to independent film-making and media controlled by working people."
Popular jazz vocalist and member of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) Vince Jones performed two songs and dedicated "One day we'll all be free" to Indonesian political prisoner Dita Sari.
Green Left Weekly journalist and Democratic Socialist Party member Jon Land spoke of his recent visit to East Timor, highlighting the role of the Indonesian military in arming and funding the pro-integration terrorist gangs. He explained, "Their activities are part of a concerted campaign by President Habibie and the Indonesian military to halt the momentum towards independence".
In Melbourne, a series of candlelight vigils to build the May 22 international day of solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor was launched at the premiere of Indonesia in Revolt. The screening, on April 23 at Melbourne University, attracted almost 200 people.
In remarks before the screening, Jo Williams from ASIET, who recently returned from a student exposure tour of Indonesia, stressed the urgency of solidarity with the student movement in Indonesia and the East Timorese struggle for independence. Victorian Trades Hall secretary Leigh Hubbard, ASIET national coordinator Max Lane and Joaquim Santos from Fretilin also spoke.
ASIET, which is sponsoring the May 22 day of solidarity initiated by Resistance, is organising candlelight vigils outside the Indonesian consulate at 72 Queens Road in Melbourne each Friday evening from 5pm. The vigils demand the withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor and the disarming of the Indonesian-backed pro-integration militias in East Timor. They are also calling on the Australian government to cut military ties with Indonesia.
A tent embassy, signifying the territories of a democratic Indonesia and an independent East Timor, will be set up outside the Indonesian consulate on May 21 at noon.
In Sydney on April 26, more than 500 people attended a rally to honour the 60,000 East Timorese who died protecting Australian soldiers in World War II. Church, union and solidarity speakers demanded that the Australian government increase efforts to end the crisis and that the United Nations ensure a peaceful and democratic ballot on independence.
In Canberra on April 27, 60 East Timorese and their supporters demonstrated at a conference discussing East Timor's transition to independence or autonomy, held at the Australian National University. The demonstrators condemned the conference organisers' decision to invite pro-integration militia leader Basilio Araujo to the conference. One protester was arrested.