|Subject: affet:Timing Indon Offensive in East Timor,
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 08:57:17 +0930
From: Rob Wesley-Smith <email@example.com> Organization: Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) /Troppo Rural Consulting
re Comments by ETISC Ireland and TAPOL re the timing of the Indonesian offensives in East Timor, and the 'ceasefire' in West Papua:
I'm reminded that in 1975 Suharto took advantage of the Australian convention, which is that of a hiatus or pause in initiating new actions during an election campaign in Australia, to launch his full scale invasion of East Timor 7/12/75.
Australia has again been in a foreign policy vacuum recently and now, as it has been engaged in an election campaign for the last 5 weeks, and the results of the election are still not finalised, though the Conservative Howard Government has been returned despite a more than 5% swing against it, and receiving only about %48 of the total vote on a 2 party preferred basis - hardly a convincing mandate! Further, the current foreign minister Alexander Downer has not yet won his seat, it going to preferences. (The former foreign minister Gareth Evans has spat the dummy and announced he will resign from parliament, now that his party the ALP has not regained government).
No doubt the Indonesians were well aware of the new stance by ALP shadow foreign minister Laurie Brereton, [which I posted 17/9/98], indeed he had explained it to them, being far more supportive of East Timor human rights. They would have been keen to act before a likely change of government.
In the 1975 case he had little to fear from either potential Prime Minister. Gough Whitlam had ignored the invasion across the border that killed the 5 Australian journalists in Balibo 16/10/75. Had he complained and acted, the full scale invasion most likely would not have occurred. He was sacked by the Governor General on November 11th. Malcolm Fraser who was then appointed acting PM, won the election on 12th December, was right wing and did nothing at all.
His foreign minister Andrew Peacock, now Oz ambassador to the USA, allegedly made secret agreements with the Indonesians, particularly at a meeting in Bali in Sep 1975, to signal support for an Indonesian invasion. He also allegedly signalled the sacking of Whitlam. To be fair to Whitlam, it is also alleged that it was only Suharto's promise to Whitlam that delayed him invading East Timor earlier in 1975. (This matter is detailed in the Ken Fry chapter in the book 'Free East Timor' ed Aubrey, Vintage 1998).
Whatever the historic parallels, what is now important is to build on the postings by [ETISC] x2 and Tapol, about Indonesian troop expansions and actions, and lobby the UN and world media to get the facts known and the Indon troops out. The links ETAN is building with Congress should be utilised to the max. Of course the US government is being limited by the bloody mindedness of the Republicans determined to get Clinton by foul means as they can't by fair. This would also have been noted by the Indon Intel.
I've been a bit surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for pushing for the presence of UN Peacekeepers, whatever they are to be called. The way I see it, and Affet sees it is as follows:
The Indonesian Government/Military has no good will at present towards freedoms in East Timor. The Indon Military controls East Timor, it is their training ground, their special income base, their killing field. No genuine freedoms can be established in East Timor whilst the Indon military is present on the ground. The Indon military will NOT get out without UN pressure and whilst there are no UN Peacekeepers (whether really needed amongst the Timorese themselves or not). Genuine autonomy is NOT possible with Indon troops present, let alone the idea of Indonesia controlling the finances and foreign policy! The Autonomy proposal being considered under UN and tripartite auspices leaves Indon military in East Timor. The UN special envoy, the elderly Moslem Pakistani diplomat Mr Marker, says some Indon troops are needed to keep the peace. Thus he and thus the UN at present are arguing AGAINST meaningful freedoms and rights to self-determination for the people of East Timor, and against the UN mandate and Resolutions, let alone its Charter. Thus he should be retired from his special envoy position, go off and enjoy his old age - no further sell out.
The East Timorese, and we, must be satisfied with nothing less than INDEPENDENCE now for East Timor, because there is no other meaningful alternative, and it is their RIGHT. We MUST get UN peacekeepers/observers present on the ground in East Timor as soon as possible to preserve current lives and human rights, and to make Independence feasible.