|Subject: Caution on ALP Statement
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 05:56:31 +0000
From: Kieran Dwyer <KieranD@zip.com.au>
This is my personal view on the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Statement of 15 September, 1998 and the supposed "new" policy" on East Timor, written for Matebian News:
I would like to urge great caution on the near euphoria about the "new" ALP policy on East Timor; and ask everyone to read the Statement again especially in light of the key January 1998 Platform which it refers to as its source. And do this in light of specific comments made by ALP leader Mr. Kim Beazley interpreting this policy in June this year.
The "East Timor: A Key foreign Policy Priority" Statement can be found on the ALP website at
The ALP policy it refers to in relation to self determination is the one adopted at the January 1998 ALP conference. This policy carefully avoided committing the ALP to a UN, internationally recognized act of self determination. It deliberately left the door open for the ALP to continue teh sophistry of Evans dying days in the Foreign Ministry of "East Timorese self determination within Indonesia".
Indeed, Kim Beazley confirmed that this is what the ALP has in mind when it says "self determination" - when he was cornered by Australian activist Rob Wesley-Smith on talk-back radio on 11 June this year:
Rob W-S: "... does it (new ALP policy) give East Timor the right of self determination ... and what now will Labor do to pursue these rights?"
Mr Beazley: "We've accepted that this is a matter that is ultimately to be resolved internally within Indonesia, Timor is part of Indonesia"
Rob W-s: It's not but ... (cut off)
Mr. Beazley: " ... we have sought within that framework a capacity for self determination ..."
This spells it out pretty clearly.
Add to this the assiduous lack of reference in the 15 September Statement to the United Nations or international law, and we have the continued recipe for "self determinaiton within Indoensia" (sic - sick!)
Mr Brereton's informal statements surrounding the release of this 15 September statement (not new policy) are obviously sounding in the right direction, and add some interesting new initiatives. But beware the potential to use someone like an Envoy for East Timor as a tool to simply say the Australian Government is working on East Timor and in fact attempt to keep it off the international agenda - where it belongs as an international issue to be resolved according to international law. Hasn't this in fact been the way successive "human rights concerns" over East Timor" for years?
Of course the election context of these latest statements must make us even more wary, and increase the need to read them in the broader light of the documented ALP policy position which backs the statements.
While the ALP is clearly working toward a better position, it still remains a task to have them commit to international law and the United Nations as the appropriate framework for a resolution to the Question of East Timor.
The 1998 Platform document is on the ETRA website, along with analysis, as is the full transcript of Mr. Beazley's talk with Rob Wesley-Smith. (follow links to Australia)
We have deliberately not yet posted analysis of this latest development, as we are awaiting further details from Mr. Brereton's office. However, with so much up-beat talk happening amongst activists through these channels, I thought it important to share these views ASAP.
Please feel free to share your ideas or criticism of this analysis.
All the best
East Timor Relief Association (ETRA) website: http://www.pactok.net.au/docs/et/