By Mitchell Hamilton
East Timorese activists have drawn attention to the illegal Indonesian occupation of their country with actions on three fronts.
Seven East Timorese students created a major incident in Jakarta and internationally last month by entering the Swedish and Finnish embassies and asking for asylum.
Although they failed in their requests to Finland and Sweden, they brought the issue of East Timor onto the international agenda once again. Non-government organisations and human rights activists were able to raise the issue at Vienna at the UN World Conference on Human Rights.
The Finnish, and Swedish governments eventually surrendered to pressures from the Indonesian government. Within 24 hours the Finns had handed the East Timorese in their embassy into the custody of one of the regime's East Timorese puppets, Lopes da Cruz.
The East Timorese at the Swedish embassy held out longer, refusing to accept assurances of safety from the Indonesian authorities. A compromise solution was eventually reached with the assistance of human rights lawyer Haji Princen, who offered to take them into his own custody. This offer was accepted.
The East Timorese are seeking the help of the International Red Cross in being allowed to leave Indonesia to join relatives in Portugal. Officials of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are denying this is possible.
Despite being refused his initial application to speak to the meeting of G-7 industrial powers, President Suharto still visited Tokyo for meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Miyazawa and US President Clinton.
During his stay in Tokyo, a British man was
arrested outside the Indonesian embassy when he threw tomato juice onto the walls as a protest against the Suharto-Clinton meeting. Clinton himself had been sent a letter from 43 US senators calling on him to raise the East Timor issue strongly with Suharto.
At the same time, the former leader of the student underground in East Timor, Constancio Pinto, was addressing public meetings in Tokyo. Tokyo TV reported on this, also showing clips from the 1991 Dili massacre of East Timorese protesters.
The National Council for Maubere Resistance (CNRM), through spokesperson Jose Ramos-Horta and Xanana's cousin Jose Gusmao, is to lodge a High Court challenge to the validity of the Timor Gap Treaty signed by Australia and Indonesia in 1989.
The challenge will dispute the validity of federal legislation introduced to implement the agreement to exploit the gas and oil resources of the continental shelf between East Timor and Australia's north-west coast. It is being argued that the treaty is void under Australian and international law.
The CNRM's challenge has the backing of the Australian Democrats. The party's law and justice spokesperson, Sid Spindler, said the Democrats wanted to assist the CNRM in using international law to bring attention to the situation in East Timor.
The challenge by the CNRM is the second to the validity of the treaty. A Portuguese challenge, lodged with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague about 18 months ago, applies for unspecified damages against Australia.
[Based on information released by CNRM and other sources via Pegasus.]