|Subject: Shame Australia Shame - Appeal for
BYRON FRIENDS OF EAST TIMOR
Gareth Smith, 14 Cumbebin Park, Byron Bay, N.S.W. 2481, Australia Tel: 616-2-66858410
On September 10, 1999, when the violence in East Timor was at its height, Maxine Caron, Mark Gwynneth, Jacob Grech, Robert Samsa and Gareth Smith protested against the Australian Government's pro Indonesian propaganda and its reluctance to agitate for an international peacekeeping force. The four men scaled the front of Canberra's Parliament House, draped a Fretilin flag over the Australian court of arms and hung a huge black banner with "Shame" written on it. Gareth Smith, who had recently returned from East Timor as a UNAMET volunteer, spray painted, "Shame Australia Shame" across the white marble wall.
"UNAMET promised the East Timorese that it would stay in East Timor whatever the ballot result. We put up hundreds of posters making that promise and held civic education classes in which we tried to assuage peoples' fears by telling them that, even though the Indonesians were saying that a vote for independence would plunge the country back to the bloodbath of 1975, UNAMET would be there to ensure these threats would not come true. When we left on August 30 people asked me why the promise had been broken. I promised to do everything I could to get peacekeepers into East Timor as quickly as possible", said Gareth.
The four men were found guilty of trespass and Smith was ordered to pay $16,335 in compensation for the damage to the marble. Canberra magistrate Karen Fryar accepted the prosecution's argument that a defence of reasonable excuse should be dismissed because animal liberationists who had freed chickens from a factory farm had used the same defence unsuccessfully. Smith's defence pointed out that it was inconceivable that the fate of chickens could in any way be compared with the mass slaughter of human beings but his words fell on deaf ears.
Ms Fryar insisted that painting the wall violated community standards and maintained that any protest had to fall within the law. "In this matter there is no allegation, nor could there be, that the Commonwealth was carrying on any unlawful activity. No matter the urgent need felt to protect the people of East Timor or to bring maximum publicity to the cause, there were lawful means by which this could have been done." Obviously, Ms Fryar has not experienced denial of her democratic rights by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who have targetted East Timor supporters since 1975.
Increasingly, the evidence is mounting that the Commonwealth was indeed acting unlawfully by conniving with the Javanese elite in suppressing evidence that the militias were armed and organised by TNI on orders from the highest political and military echelons. Australia's Defence Signals Directorate continuously monitors all Indonesian military and political communications while the Australian Federal Police and ASIS work closely with their Indonesian counterparts including the dreaded BAIS. Australia has an unrivalled window on the inner workings of Indonesia which it is reluctant to share even with its U.S. allies. When Washington-based Merv Jenkins gave his U.S. counterparts data about TNI/militia cohesion marked "Australian Eyes Only", he was so tormented by his superiors that he committed suicide. Sandra Jenkins is now suing the Australian government for compensation. The case should let out more secrets that Australia would prefer to be kept hidden.
Gareth Smith has now received a demand from solicitors MinterEllison for the $16,335 to be paid within 14 days. It is interesting to note that MinterEllison have an office in Jakarta. Is it possible that some of their clients include Suharto cronies and murderers like General Try Sutrisno? If anyone has information about MinterEllison's operations in Indonesia please send it to me.
"I would be grateful for assistance in paying this impost", says Gareth. " In the unlikely event that we get more than $16,335 the residue will be used by Byron Friends of East Timor and H.O.P.E. in East Timor for humanitarian relief in East Timor".
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