By Wendy Robertson
Because injustice is intrinsic to the system ...
For 32 years Suharto guaranteed the interests of Western businesses and governments, which, in return, provided full military, political and economic backing. The Timor Gap Treaty on oil was only the most overt example of the thieves dividing up the spoils. The human cost of these deals was devastating. The Indonesian military have killed at least 1 million people in Indonesia, 250,000 in East Timor and tens of thousands in West Papua and Aceh.
But human rights abuses are not confined to Indonesia and East Timor. It is the same story all around the world. More and more, naked military aggression is being used to assert the interests of the rich and powerful — from Iraq to the Balkans.
Because they lie to cover-up the truth ...
We are told that the current crisis in East Timor is a result of "warring East Timorese factions", not a result of terror gangs armed, aided and abetted by the Indonesian government. Downer pretends to want peace in East Timor, but tries to strip the East Timorese independence fighters of their ability to defend themselves. The government says it wants democracy in Indonesia but continues to arm and train the Indonesian military.
In Serbia, the US lies about its concerns for the Kosova Albanians, who now are killed by NATO bombs as well as by the Serbian military.
Because if people unite they can win ...
Last May, after months of continuous demonstrations of up to a million students, Suharto stood down. Having held power for more than 32 years, one of the most brutal dictators in the world was forced to resign. Rather than risk the demonstrations spreading throughout the population, one by one Suharto's cronies came to realise that they needed get rid of Suharto before they lost control forever. Similarly, rallies of students in East Timor, after the fall of Suharto, forced a recognition that the occupation had become impossible to maintain.
When people work together and rise up against injustice, even the most brutal dictatorship's days are numbered. In Australia we have so many issues to campaign around: stopping the Jabiluka mine, the war in Kosova, the voluntary student unionism legislation. We can learn from the courage and determination of students in Indonesia.
Because change will not happen without action ...
The campaign to overthrow Suharto began through a small group of activists, who formed the People's Democratic Party (PRD). They argued that students, workers and the poor were the only force capable of overthrowing the dictatorship. The PRD have now grown 10-fold, and their slogans are taken up by millions of people.
In Australia, Resistance seeks to play a similar role in the movement for change. We stand against all oppression. Last year, when the major parties stood by watching racist forces like Pauline Hanson's One Nation grow, Resistance led mass high school walkouts which mobilised thousands of students across Australia. We have taken a stand for women's rights, free education, to defend the Maritime Union of Australia and protect the environment.
Because if not now, then when?
Now is a crucial time to act. It is our responsibility to act for East Timor and Indonesia. It is a crucial time to stand against the tyranny of profit and fight for a world where people and the environment come first. A time to stand up to the war machine killing people in Kosova. A time to stand up for justice.
It is our responsibility to match the determination and courage of our brothers and sisters who are struggling overseas. As well as fighting "our" government on all fronts, Resistance is fighting for a lasting solution to these problems: a democratic and socialist society.
[Wendy Robertson is a member of the Resistance National Executive].