Indonesian supporter of East Timorese independence


By Max Lane

Indonesian dissident academic George Aditjondro addressed a meeting of more than 60 East Timorese at Cabramatta Community Centre on November 22. The meeting was chaired by the president of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), Joa Carrascalao. Representatives of Fretilin also attended the meeting.

Aditjondro, on a visit to Australia, earlier spoke at the Northern Territory University, a Rainbow Alliance meeting in Melbourne and other functions.

Aditjondro assure the East Timorese of his continuing support for the east Timorese cause. He reiterated his argument that current Indonesian policy is not in accord with the Indonesian constitution and not in the interests of either the East Timorese or Indonesian people.

He explained that only a small handful of Indonesians, mostly related to top officials, benefit from the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, through the operations of the Bhatara Indra Company, which controls most of East Timorese trade and commerce.

Aditjondro has called for direct talks between the Indonesian government and Xanana Gusmao, as the central leader of the East Timorese resistance. He has opposed the current talks between the government and pro-"integration" East Timorese Abilio Araujo. On November 19, he told Sinar magazine in Jakarta that only Xanana Gusmao can talk on behalf of the East Timorese movement.

He also told Sinar that these talks should include a discussion of how sovereignty can be transferred to East Timor. "A referendum is the way", Aditjondro stated.

When Aditjondro repeated this call for a referendum in Australia, the suggestion was immediately rejected by Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans. According to Evans, Indonesia has to change its policies so as to better facilitate "reconciliation" in East Timor. The ALP government would do nothing which would "help raise unrealistic expectations" of independence.

In the meantime, Indonesians raising their voice in support of the East Timorese resistance movement do so at considerable cost. Aditjondro has already suffered considerable harassment. On October 22 the authorities formally charged Aditjondro, a lecturer at the Satya Wacana University in Salatiga, Central Java, with "insulting the Indonesian government". If convicted, he could face a one-month jail term.

The "insult" is supposed to have occurred during a seminar last August at the Indonesia Islamic University titled "The Urgency of Political Development in the Process of Democracy in Indonesia". Aditjondro is alleged to have made the remarks while he analysed papers by retired General Sumitro, who was the head of the much feared intelligence agency Kopkamtib (Command for the Restoration of Security and Order) and former minister of home affairs Rudini.

Aditjondro, who will be defended by the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YBH), said he planned to summon both Sumitro and Rudini as well as outspoken legislator Sri Bintang Pamungkas, who was present at the seminar.