Moresby demo hits Hawke, Namaliu

December 4, 1991

By Norm Dixon

Demonstrators in the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby, have accused the Australian and PNG government's of turning a blind eye to the recent massacre in Dili and the denial of the East Timorese people's right to self-determination.

The protest, led by members of Melanesian Solidarity, was held outside the Australian High Commission on November 20. They hung a big banner at the main gate which read: "Bob Hawke! What about East Timor! Stop the massacre!"

Spokesperson Powes Parkop told the Times of PNG that Bob Hawke was hypocritical in sending frigates to Kuwait while ignoring the invasion and occupation of East Timor.

"Australians' hands are soaked with the blood of Maubere people of East Timor, many of whom are Melanesians. The recent massacre shows that Indonesia cannot integrate East Timor into its fascist state. The Maubere people have shown, even in the face of extreme danger, their preference for independence."

Parkop also slammed the attitude of the PNG government. At that point, Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu had said nothing about the massacre. Parkop called on Namaliu publicly to state his position on the massacre. "[The East Timorese] are our Melanesian brothers, and I don't see any reason why the government should remain silent."

The PNG government finally commented on the massacre a full two weeks after it occurred. Speaking in parliament on November 27, Namaliu condemned the killings but welcomed the establishment of the Indonesian government's commission of inquiry. The inquiry has been widely criticised as being stacked by supporters of the government and military. PNG foreign minister Michael Somare described the "incident" in Dili as an "internal matter for Indonesia to solve".

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