Subject: A bit of history that highlights Rod Donald's courage
 
A bit of history that highlights Rod Donald's courage - from a "work in progress" Maire

Jogging with the General

 
When  Indonesia's Commander in Chief, General Feisal Tanjung, arrived on May 1, 1994 the visit was publicly condemned by both Labour and Alliance spokespeople.[1]

 
While in New Zealand General Tanjung was an official "Full Guest of Government" and he and his party were treated to sightseeing and golf in Queenstown prior to undertaking inspections of airforce and naval bases and holding official meetings with Prime Minister Bolger, Minister of Defence Cooper and New Zealand military Chiefs of Staff.

The General had one unscheduled, less comfortable meeting.  A Christchurch activist, Rod Donald (later to become a member of parliament and the co-leader of the Green Party), was visiting Auckland and decided to go jogging on Mt Eden - a favoured sightseeing spot.  On the way up he was passed by a fleet of large cars and at the top a group of military personnel and their wives were posing for photographs.  Guessing that the VIP was General Feisal Tanjung, Rod said he "mentally debated what to do as I watched this happy gathering.  The options ranged from cowardly turning my back and running down the hill to creating a scene.
 
Instead I waited for the picture-taking to finish and went up to a New Zealand officer to ask if I could meet the Indonesian General.  Yes, certainly what was my name?  We shook hands and I opened my attack with ... the weather.  I was sure, I said, that the view from Canterbury's Port Hills would have been better that morning than from Mt Eden.  This got everyone in a jovial mood then I said I wished to convey the views of many many New Zealanders that we totally oppose Indonesia's occupation of East Timor and the continuing atrocities being committed by the forces under his command.  His smile had gone.  I urged him to withdraw his troops then walked away.  ... I would probably have been shot for my polite protest if we lived in East Timor".[2]

[1]  New Zealand Herald, 3 May, 1994, "Indonesian General's Visit raises ire"

 
[2]  Rod Donald, 5 June, 1994, Sunday Supplement, National Radio, transcript supplied by the author

 
Indonesia Human Rights Committee is a solidarity organization which aims to build links between the people of New Zealand and Indonesia by developing network with the groups in Indonesia and around the world who are working for human rights and democracy in Indonesia. Being interested is not enough, get involved!

 
IHRC, P.O. Box 68 419, Newton, Auckland.
 
Phone/fax: 64-9-8159000, Email: maire@clear.net.nz

 


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