The tour of Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) representative, Nico Warouw, has contributed significantly to public awareness of the campaigns for democracy in Indonesia and to free jailed political activists, say tour organisers.
Susan Price reports from Melbourne that a public meeting of 80 people on October 11 generated a lot of discussion and debate around the role of the PRD in the pro-democracy movement, and the importance of support from Australians for the emerging opposition to the Suharto dictatorship. The meeting, co-sponsored by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) and Green Left Weekly, raised over $400 towards the campaign to free Indonesian political prisoners.
Campus meetings on Monash, Melbourne and Latrobe universities attracted significant student support. Melbourne University Student Union agreed to donate several hundred dollars to pay for the tour. A range of student groups, including the Third World Action Group (Monash), University Students for East Timor (USET), Resistance and the Latrobe Political Action Collective helped organise the campus meetings.
After Warouw gave greetings to a Victorian TAFE Students and Apprentices Network (VTSAN) State Council meeting, a motion was passed for formal links to be set up between VTSAN and Students in Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia (SMID). A fund raising event will be organised by VTSAN, ASIET and other student organisations.
Representatives of the National Union of Students met with Warouw and have agreed to investigate ways in which NUS can provide concrete support and solidarity to SMID.
Warouw also met with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Australian Metal Workers Union. The CFMEU agreed to investigate ways to put pressure on the ACTU to recognise the PPBI and SBSI as legitimate labour organisations, and to support the activist defence campaign. The AMWU participants discussed ways in which their union could place bans on components being exported to Indonesia, and Indonesian-made products being imported into Australia. The AMWU State Council also donated $200 to the campaign.
Warouw appeared alongside Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jose Ramos Horta, at the Green Left Weekly solidarity dinner on October 19.
Kylie Moon and Carol Mitchell report that, on October 15, Warouw addressed more than 50 people from various organisations at the Environment Centre in Hobart. The meeting was ASIET's first public event in Tasmania.
Warouw spoke about the prospects for change in Indonesia and the need for a people-driven democratic movement.
Earlier that day the law faculty at the University of Tasmania had welcomed the Indonesian ambassador to Australia who visited the campus to address law students in an open forum. ASIET members picketed the event. They were initially barred from entering the meeting by security guards who also tried to take away a banner. The meeting was delayed for 15 minutes as protesters insisted on being allowed entry. When the ambassador's speech began, the ASIET members defiantly walked out, having made their point. (See pages 29-31 for details of the international day of solidarity actions in each city on October 28.)