Support for East Timor and democracy in Indonesia

Issue 

Picture

Support for East Timor and democracy in Indonesia

By Bea Brear and Jenny Long

SYDNEY — On May 5, around 25 people attended a Univeristy of NSW Resistance Club public forum about the political situation in East Timor and Indonesia. Green Left Weekly journalist Jon Land and Sydney university education officer Aaron Benedek presented a Marxist perspective on events in those countries.

Land, who recently returned from East Timor, described the terror against independence activists since the appearance of the armed pro-integration militia forces earlier this year. He also discussed the long struggle in Aceh province.

Benedek, who participated in the April Resistance students' exposure tour to Indonesia, spoke about the state of the Indonesian democracy movement, drawing particularly on his experiences with the Indonesian People's Democratic Party (PRD).

The meeting followed a lightning action the day before when eight activists from the Australia-East Timor Association occupied the Indonesian Garuda Airlines office, resulting in three arrests.

The "Action to Stop the Killing" demanded that the Australian government call on the Indonesian regime to withdraw its armed forces immediately from East Timor; call on the UN to send a large security force; recall the Australian military attaché from Jakarta and expel the Indonesian attaché in Canberra; and stop all military aid and training to the Indonesian regime.

Land also addressed an Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) public meeting of around 50 people at the Resistance Centre on May 7. A new short documentary on East Timor, Viva Timor Leste!, filmed by Andrew McNaughtan from the Australia East Timor Association and narrated by David Cave, was also shown. A lively discussion followed.

The next project for solidarity activists is the May 13 ASIET picket outside the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre, at which National Union of Students representatives and other student activists will speak. May 20 will be the turn of church and other community groups to picket the same centre.

The pickets are building toward the May 22 international day of solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, for which Resistance and ASIET have initiated an open organising committee meeting on Saturday afternoons.

The first meeting, attracting 25 activists, drew up initial plans for the day. Trade union, student and media groups met to get more people and organisations involved. The organising meetings at 1pm, Saturdays, at the Resistance Centre (23 Abercrombie St, Chippendale), are open to all interested activists.