Subject: UDT on Downer
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 15:08:43 +1100
From: Geoffrey Heard <gheard@surf.net.au>

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release: 2 pm AEST, Tuesday 12/1/98

Cautious welcome for Downer's East Timor statement

SYDNEY: The Australian Government's announcement today that it supports the idea of an act of self-determination for the people in Indonesian occupied East Timor has been cautiously welcomed by Mr Jo„o Carrascal„o, world President of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT). "The good news is that this is a major and very welcome shift in the Australian Government's approach to the problem of Indonesia's occupation of our country and repression and murder of our people," Mr Carrascal„o said. "Successive Australian Governments have almost pigheadedly maintained their position as the only democratic country in the world which has recognised Indonesia's brutal annexation of East Timor in defiance of world opinion and the United Nations. "Today's statement is a big advance on that position. "However, the bad news is that Mr Downer's position, that while a referendum should be held, there should be a delay of as much as 10 years before it takes place and that independence for East Timor is out of the question, is very much the position proposed by Indonesia at the current United Nations negotiations with Portugal on the issue. As an observer at these talks, I know precisely what the positions are. "The question must be asked: 'Is this Australia announcing an independent new position on East Timor designed to promote the interests of a people suffering daily violence, torture, rape, murder and theft at the hands of a brutal occupying army, or is it Australia bowing to the will of its powerful neighbour, Indonesia, yet again and setting its policy to reflect Indonesia's desired directions and interests?'. "Only time will tell. In the meantime, we welcome the fact that an Australian Government is now talking about East Timorese having some say in their future some time. We will be watching closely Australia's performance in moving this forward in the interests of the East Timorese themselves, which ultimately must mean supporting the desire of East Timorese for independence." FURTHER INFORMATION: Jo„o Carrascal„o, President, UDT % 0418 767 101 % 08 9527 2062 Issued on behalf of UDT by Geoffrey Heard & Associates Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Geoffrey Heard GH&A Public Relations Tel: +61 3 9583 0788 Email: gheard@surf.net.au

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