The Guardian September 15, 1999

Collaborators in genocide

The Indonesian Government and the military high command which controls 
it must be forced by continued pressure from the international community to 
withdraw their forces from East Timor now.

Those responsible for the carnage and mass murder must be made to face 
charges of crimes against humanity. 

The governments of the major powers and the Government of Australia already 
stand condemned in the eyes of the world for their appeasement of the 
military dictatorship over many years and their silence about the slaughter 
of the East Timorese.

It was clear long before the vote on independence that unless the 
Indonesian military was made to withdraw and the militias, which are an 
extension of the military, were disarmed and disbanded, there would be a 
ruthless vendetta of bloodletting. (See "East Timor Betrayed" p 6)

The UN made no preparations to prevent the intended massacre while the 
Howard Government played the role of apologist, spruiking diplomatic 
rhetoric, which defended Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor. 

Prime Minister Howard summed up this position with his statement that 
sending in any forces to East Timor "would be like invading Indonesia". 

With each passing moment that the Government stalls and the UN 
procrastinates, more lives are being lost in the reign of terror, with East 
Timorese citizens being shipped out to who knows where. As such the 
Australian Government is collaborating in an act of genocide.

Any government genuinely concerned with human rights and democracy would 
also be supportive of the trade union movement's solidarity in applying 
bans on trade and tourism to Indonesia. Instead Workplace Relations 
Minister Reith is taking the opportunity to encourage employers to use his 
anti-union laws to stop the solidarity actions.

And while the appeasement continues, the Indonesian military has set about 
systematically destroying East Timor's infrastructure, wiping out its 
hospitals, its water and electricity supplies, its transport and 
communications, driving the people out and burning their homes in what may 
well be preparations for the partitioning the country.

It is the intention of Indonesia to leave behind an economic disaster, a 
country divided: one part containing the rich mineral and land investments 
of the Indonesian power elite, including the Suharto dynasty; the other 
part in ruins.

Economic and political sanctions must be implemented against Indonesia. All 
military ties must be cut. The issuing of visas to Indonesian nationalists 
should cease along with a campaign to discourage Australians from using 
Indonesia as a tourist destination.

Indonesia's ruling class must be made to feel the pressure of international 

World-wide pressure is increasingly coming from the ground up. During 
Indonesia's years of occupation of East Timor public awareness and 
solidarity have grown considerably in Australia. At the first protest in 
Sydney in 1975 there were 200 people. Last weekend in Sydney there were 
20,000 protesters.

Around the country the wave of protest has grown as the trade unions, 
community organisations and churches give voice to their outrage. 

The Suharto dictatorship came to an end in May of last year following mass 
actions by Indonesian workers, peasants, students, professionals and 
intellectuals: all those who have had to bear the brunt of oppression, 
economic hardship and the crushing of democratic rights.

While the government with President Habibe at its head has been forced by 
the actions of the Indonesian people to make concessions the Western powers 
with the USA in the forefront, did nothing to force Indonesia to end its 
illegal occupation of East Timor. Their inaction and appeasement exposes 
the big lie of their flowery rhetoric about democracy and freedom.

It was the Indonesian people who swept Suharto away. It is the courageous 
East Timorese that will finally end Indonesia's occupation of their 

As a speaker at the Sydney rally said, "The home of the brave? I know where 
that is. It's 600 kilometres from the Western Australian coast. It's a 
country called East Timor."
Back to index page