Indonesian progressives support East Timorese

November 23, 1994

By Max Lane

Indonesia's largest independent national student organisation, Students in Solidarity with Democracy for Indonesia (SSDI), issued a statement on November 13 in support of the 29 students occupying the US Embassy compound. SSDI activists have been in contact with the East Timorese and providing support.

The SSDI statement criticised recent diplomatic initiatives of the Suharto government, including talks with pro-independence forces outside East Timor, as no more than manoeuvres aimed at reducing pressure on Indonesia prior to the APEC summit meeting. There were no steps being taken to solve the problem, the statement said; instead there was more loss of lives among the East Timorese people.

Among the SSDI's demands on the Indonesian government were the holding of a democratic referendum of the East Timorese people under the supervision of the UN and other relevant international bodies, the freeing of Xanana Gusmao and freedom for national and international human rights organisations and the foreign and local press to report without restrictions or needing permission.

The SSDI statement, signed by secretary-general Tri Fajar Marhaeni Dewi and international relations officer Bimo Nugroho, called for the struggle for the independence of East Timor and for democracy in Indonesia to be more integrated.

Other Indonesian groups have also been defending the East Timorese, including the Joint Committee for the Defence of East Timor and the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (LBH). Eight East Timorese students have taken refuge in the LBH headquarters. LBH has issued a statement condemning the government's use of violence in dealing with dissent in Indonesia.

A delegation from Indonesia's new progressive national workers' organisation, Indonesian Workers Struggle Centre (PPBI), is now in Perth attending the Indian Ocean Trade Union Conference and has brought a statement from the East Timorese nationalists in Jakarta appealing for support in Australia. The PPBI will present the statement to the conference and ask it to support the East Timorese.

PPBI general secretary Dita Sari will speak in support of freedom for East Timor together with John Pilger and East Timorese community leaders in Sydney on December 2.

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