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Subject: AETN: Downer no mandate
Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 13:10:24 +0930
From: Rob Wesley-Smith <> Organization: affet/troppo rural consulting


"Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, has no mandate from anyone to talk secretly to interim President Habibie about East Timor", says the Australian East Timor Network, in a statement endorsed by member groups and individuals signed below.

"Mr Downer's appalling recent record on East Timor suggests that he and the Australian government will only attempt to further sell out the East Timorese right to self-determination", say network members.

In our joint media statement of 12/6/98, we reaffirmed the 5 key demands from the historic forum in Dili on 6th June, which we continue to insist as being a minimum for Mr Downer to affirm. These points are as follows:

  • 1. the release of all political prisoners, including Xanana Gusmao
  • 2. both Indonesia and Portugal to agree to a joint administration for an interim period
  • 3. the removal of ABRI (Indonesian armed forces) from East Timor
  • 4. the UN to send in peacekeeping troops
  • 5. preparations be made for a referendum on self-determination

Mr Downer should ask President Habibie to action these minimum points immediately, and that they not be conditional on any agreements, appeasement of the military, or any other excuse for prevarication.

Further, the Australian East Timor Network members demand that Mr Downer advise in advance, and provide transcript after, what he is putting to President Habibie, because we don't trust either.

* * * * * * *

For example, Mr Downer in mid-June made a speech regarding the setting up of an International Criminal Court (ICC), citing Pol Pot, Rwanda and so on, as situations the Court could influence to ensure people did not act with impunity.

He refused to list East Timor and Indonesia as situations where the proposed ICC could play a role, when these are our immediate neighbours, and where human rights violations occur with impunity on a daily basis. In fact all Australian Foreign Affairs and Prime Ministers of the last 23 years have turned their backs on, and arguably encouraged, the genocide of the East Timorese people by the Indonesian armed forces.

Ambassador McCarthy in mid-June in Dili has just made it clear again that Australia's policy on East Timor, which is in clear breach of the UN and international law, will NOT be reviewed.

"We wonder then what Mr Downer has to say to interim President Habibie which could possibly advance the resolution of the illegal and brutal occupation of East Timor by Indonesia?", members of AETN claim.

Mr Downer recently announced a further nearly $2m of aid to East Timor, but this was given to the Indonesian Director General! To claim that Australia has given $28m to East Timor relief is a gross misrepresentation, as all or nearly all of that money has been supplied through the Indonesian Government, which means only a trickle at best has reached the East Timorese people.

"We insist that all aid money for East Timor, and for that matter to Indonesia, should go through legitimate NGOs", say network members.

Indonesia's President Habibie has also been inconsistent. On 25th June, (the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), Dr Habibie launched Indonesia's National Plan of Action on Human Rights, along with a timetable for its implementation.

"As a member of the UN we have to respect and abide by the human rights norms recognised by the international community", he said. "Respect for human rights is inherent in the heart and soul of the Indonesian people", he claimed.

President Habibie also said that in the implementation of the action plan on human rights, "Indonesia will always welcome any assistance and cooperation so long as they are mutually beneficial, based on mutual respect, and without any conditionality".

Mr Downer is therefore well placed to point out to President Habibie the inconsistency of the above compared to his offer on 9th June. In this he agreed to consider granting special status to East Timor, which was CONDITIONAL on Portugal and the UN recognising it as an integral part of Indonesia!

Mr Downer and the UN MUST convey that such attempted blackmail is unacceptable, and that interim President Habibie should insist, if he can - if he really has control over ABRI (which we doubt) - that the Indonesian armed forces are withdrawn from East Timor commencing NOW.

Further, free discussion and dialogue which all wish to see is NOT possible with the threat of reprisals over participants from ABRI, from their Intel, and from their para-military groups which appear to be being reactivated in a dangerous escalation of force and hypocrisy.

Mr Downer must at least demand that this threat, and the reactivation of the Indonesian para-military in East Timor, be reversed, and this must be monitored by the international community.

Further, that any harm coming to community leaders including Manuel Carrascalao, (who was recently attacked), will result in Australia withdrawing support for ANY general IMF or World Bank bailout money to Indonesia.

Downer's current attitude to East Timor is clear from the following report from Indonesia's official Antara newsagency on Friday 3rd July 1998:

"Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said a referendum is not a sufficient solution to the East Timor issue because it will only trigger dissension among the East Timorese.

"In a referendum, there is a winner and there is a loser. And that could possibly trigger a civil war", he said in an interview with ANTARA here Friday. (Its report continues):

Downer is scheduled to visit Indonesia on July 8-10 to meet with President BJ Habibie, and their discussion would focus on the East Timor issue and the economic crisis. He underscored that the most important thing to do to solve the long-standing issue is to hold dialogs among all concerned parties.

Asked whether the Indonesian government's proposal to grant East Timor an autonomous status is a right step, Downer said the Indonesian government's effort to involve the East Timorese in finding a solution to the problem is indeed an important point.

"Basically, they (the East Timorese) have to be fully involved in any dialog on the issue. The problem is how could all those efforts be carried out well", he said.

So Mr Downer is reaffirming Indonesia's right to solve 'the issue', and has not affirmed any rights to the East Timorese at all. He is taking the absurd Indonesian propaganda line that a referendum will necessarily lead to a civil war, which is not only a complete fallacy but is against their UN stipulated human rights.

Indonesia is extending this argument to visits from UN and other dignatories, in a blatant attempt to once again isolate East Timor, and to encourage apparent conditions of anarchy. The opposite is indeed the case - there is nothing the East Timorese could not resolve peacefully if only the Indonesian armed forces were withdrawn.

So to set up conditions for dialogue REQUIRES the oppressive Indonesian military and Intel apparatus in East Timor be dismantled - "will you please at least accept that, Mr Downer?"

On the ABC 4 Corners program Mr Downer postulated that all East Timor supporters were basically hysterical, abusive ill-informed rabble, and that only his quiet back door diplomacy can achieve anything. Well, we haven't seen any benefit at all for East Timor human rights from Australia's 23 year sell out - "here is your chance Mr Downer".

Finally, we demand that any Australian government and United Nations position on Indonesian suggestions of limited autonomy for East Timor be that such is only an interim position at best, which necessarily MUST be monitored and controlled by UN Peacekeepers, until the East Timorese are able to make a proper determination of their right to self-determination and independence.

Anything less is a continuation of the 23 year abandonment of the East Timorese to the brutal military domination by Indonesia which Australia has condoned, to our national disgrace and shame.

Signed by Australian East Timor Network members as follows:

Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) Darwin spokesperson Rob Wesley-Smith PhFx 61 8 89832113, mobile ph 015 613570 East Timor Justice Lobby (ETJL) Dr Vaclava Vlazna Ph 02 99487043 Australian East Timor Association (AETA) Sydney president Dr Andrew McNaughtan Ph 02 99605550, 0412 135391 Friends of East Timor (FOET) WA spokespeople Neil Sullivan Ph 08 93281970, Justin Woodruff Ph 08 93281115 Hobart East Timor C'tee (HETC) spokespeople Peter Jones, Jennie Herrera Ph 03 62282727 Campaign for an Independent East Timor (CIET) SA, spokesperson Andy Alcock Ph 08 83710480 University Students for East Timor, member Sam Maresh Ph 03 96821123 Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) Canberra, spokesperson Gareth Smith Ph 02 62477429 Dr Martin Wesley-Smith AM Ph 044 651299 Professor (Law) Peter Wesley-Smith Ph 044 651299 Geoff McKee Ph 042 942341 Bushfire Media, ask for Peter, Ph 02 96601804 'The AustralAsian' editor Sonny Inbaraj Ph 08 89855529, 89485333

Fax (FREE) the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexandr Downer, to protest Australia's official
position on East Timor. (Site maintained by University Students for East Timor.)

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