Subject: MKOTT: Statement in Solidarity with Australians for Timor Sea
Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea Dili, East Timor 20
Statement in Solidarity with Australians for Timor Sea Justice
Dear Australian people,
Warm solidarity greetings from East Timor!
We hope you share our joy in celebrating the second anniversary of the
restoration of our independence. As you know, a critical step in that
achievement was when
InterFET, led by Australian General Peter Cosgrove, came to East Timor
in 1999 to ensure that atrocities carried out by the Indonesian armed
forces and its pro-Jakarta militias were halted. East Timor will always be
grateful to Australia for that support, which has helped some of us to
forgive Australia's complicity with the previous 24 years of Indonesian
But today thousands of East Timorese people, who welcomed the
international forces as their saviors in 1999, see that the Australian
government is stealing revenues essential for the development of our newly
We are outraged that, because of the Australian government's illegal
occupation of our petroleum resources under the Timor Sea, more of our
children will not live to reach the age of five, many more children will
not be able to go to school, and our already high maternal mortality rate
Since our liberation in 1999, the Australian government has been
stealing approximately one million U.S. dollars every day from East Timor.
If this continues, and if your government succeeds in delaying a maritime
boundary agreement for decades, Australia will have misappropriated
approximately seven billion dollars that rightfully belongs to East Timor.
As an independent and sovereign country, Timor-Leste has right under
international law to determine permanent seabed and maritime boundaries
with its neighbors, and to manage resources contained in its territory.
However the Howard government is obstructing this process by refusing to
allow impartial arbiters to resolve the dispute, and by stonewalling on
Australian people are very proud of your "fair go" tradition,
and we encourage you to apply it to the people of Timor-Leste in terms of
The Howard government is occupying and stealing at least 60 percent of
East Timor's rightful share of the resources beneath the Timor Sea between
Australia and Timor-Leste, worth about 30 billion U.S. dollars in
Imagine how we could better our lives with this money? How many people
will get access to basic health services or will finally learn to read?
How many more children will survive their first year of life? How many
other rights and services that Australians take for granted might become
available to the people of East Timor?
The people of Timor Leste protest the injustice inflicted by the
Australian government. Last month, our Movement Against the Occupation of
the Timor Sea launched a three-day protest in front of Australian embassy
in Dili, but so far, the Howard government has not changed its position.
From 18-20 May 2004, East Timor's Socialist Youth Alliance and the
Movement is against demonstrating against your government.
We realize that it will take a bi-national campaign, in both East Timor
and Australia, to change the position of your government. We therefore
welcome and highly appreciate the endeavors of Australian people joining
the Timor Sea Justice Campaign to support us in the second anniversary of
our restoration of independence. As in 1999, when thousands of people in
Australia and around the world took to the streets to urge the government
to dispatch the Australian soldiers to Timor-Leste, we now once again rely
to you to change Australia's position and support justice for the people
The Australian government does not care about a "fair go" for
Timor-Leste and the international rule of law. The Howard government is
using every opportunity to bully its tiny northern neighbor.
The government of Australia often says that Timor-Leste is trying to
win sympathy within Australia over Timor Sea issues. Though Timor-Leste is
really small and the poorest country in Southeast Asia, we are not trying
to be as wealthy as Australia by claiming Australian resources or asking
for your charity. We just want our entitlement under international law.
We therefore, urge the government of Australia to quickly and seriously
negotiate permanent seabed and maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste. But,
as we have seen at the negotiating table, Australian delegates have no
legal justification for their occupation of oil and gas reserves closer to
Timor-Leste's coastline than to Australia's. The Australian government is
still stubborn and does not want to obey international law or any moral
This week in Dili, the Timor-Leste Development Partners' meeting has
begun. It is no secret that the newest country will experience a financial
deficit in the coming three years, estimated at US$126 million. In 2003
alone, the government of Australia collected approximately US$ 172 million
from the Laminaria-Corallina oilfield. If the government of Australia had
not stolen these resources from our birthright, Timor-Leste would not have
to beg donor countries for help.
Australia is one of the richest countries on earth per head in natural
resources. The Australian government's budget for this year is about US$
125 billion, but the natural gas reserves in Timor-Leste's part of the
Timor Sea, which are equal to less than one fifth of Australia's natural
gas resources, will bring in about US$30 billion in government revenues
over the next five decades. The amount is relatively small compared to
Australia's budget, and "greed" is the only word to describe
this occupation. Timor-Leste's government budget, on the other hand, is
less than US$0.1 billion per year, and losing these revenues will have a
tremendous impact on our people.
The Australian people should not lose face in the eyes of the
international community because of the deeds of your government, due to
its occupation of Timor Sea resources. However if the government of
Australia continues to stonewall the negotiation process, it will be hard
for Australia to escape global shame and condemnation.
As the relations between the people of our two countries date back to
the Second World War, Timor-Leste is committed to be a good neighbor to
Australia. We still believe that the government of Australia has good
political will to settle the dispute peacefully and follow international
It took 24 years to bring Jakarta to the table -- but we are all better
organizers now, and Canberra has less at stake than Indonesia did. Ending
the Australian occupation of our sea will complete the victory which began
when we ended the Indonesian occupation of our land, and it will be much
On this second anniversary of the restoration of our national
independence, we ask your support for the demands on Australia's
government from Timor-Leste's Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor
1. Respect East Timor as an independent and sovereign state. Our
government's legitimacy and authority are equal to Australia's.
2. Negotiate a fair maritime boundary with East Timor, according to
contemporary legal principles as expressed in the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea, based on a median line. If both sides
approach the process in good faith, meeting monthly, it should take no
more than three years to reach an agreement.
3. Rejoin the maritime boundary dispute resolution mechanisms of the
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court
of Justice, so that East Timor and Australia will have boundaries
consistent with the law if negotiations do not result in a just and prompt
4. Stop issuing new exploration licenses in seabed territory that is
closer to East Timor than to Australia. During each of the last three
years, Australia offered such areas to oil companies, and Canberra signed
one contract just three months ago.
5. Deposit all revenues received by the Australian government from
petroleum fields that are closer to East Timor than they are to Australia
into an escrow account. When a permanent seabed boundary is established,
this account will be divided appropriately between the two nations.
Thank you for your interest, support, past, present and future
solidarity. A luta continua!
Movimento Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor
Dili, Timor Lorosa'e,
20 May 2004
Timor Sea, Boundaries
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