Update 3 September: Please support the TSJC’s crowd funding campaign. Donate now and help ensure Timor gets a fair go.
The East Timorese people have long held a special place in Australian hearts. Now, they need a hand to secure what is rightfully theirs and to secure their future prosperity.
Great riches – oil, gas and more – are buried in the sea between Timor and Darwin, and the Australian Government is claiming far more than its fair share. As a result, our Government is robbing fledgling Timor Leste of billions of dollars – future revenue to fund schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure.
This week, Australia and East Timor are sitting down to “conciliate” at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. It didn’t start well: Australia’s opening remarks rejected the jurisdiction of the international commission!
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is counting on Australians not paying attention. We need to prove her wrong. It’s time to set up a clever and sustained campaign to raise awareness and fight for a fair go for Timor.
Please chip in today with a small donation so we can:
Re-connect and mobilise hundreds of East Timor solidarity groups and networks across the country to run local events and lobby local MPs
Mobilise Australians of diverse faiths
Engage directly with journalists to tell the story in the media, as well as build an overwhelming presence on social media
Provide support to East Timorese Australians who wish to speak up.
Build a coalition of mainstream organisations, well-known Australians, and political leaders of all stripes.
Australians expect our government to be better than this. We successfully urged John Howard to send Aussie troops to support East Timor’s independence in 1999.
For decades, tens of thousands of us campaigned in solidarity with the East Timorese people, raising awareness of their plight under Indonesian occupation. Since independence thousands more have helped to build a safe and prosporous East Timor. It’s time for us to step again.
Last time our Government “negotiated” with Timor, it kindly offered to renovate the Parliament Building while ASIS secretly installed listening devices in the Timor Cabinet room. The Australian Government needs to know: this time we’re watching them!
Now is the moment. Even though it is non-binding, the UN conciliation is a chance to shine a global spotlight on Australia’s unfair behaviour. We need to apply equal pressure here at home.
Let’s make the Government finally do the right thing by East Timor and establish permanent maritime boundaries in accordance with international law.
Here’s to a prosperous Timor, and an Australia of which we can be proud.
Chip in now: Support the Timor Sea Justice Campaign
Update 10 July: Time to continue to support Timor Leste’s struggle against Turnbull/Bishop’s denial of Timor Sea justice over the boundary and oil reserves. Let’s ensure ALP, Greens, and independents, Xenophon, Wilke, unions, left groups and supporters of Timor Leste continue to campaign for Timor Sea justice.
South China Sea ruling puts spotlight on Australia’s untenable position in the Timor Sea
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The response from Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, to the ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China highlights a central contradiction in Australia’s foreign policy.
The Timor Sea Justice Campaign’s spokesperson, Tom Clarke, said whilst well intentioned, the Australian Government’s calls for China to respect international law would continue to ring hollow while Australia itself was failing to abide by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The Australian Government has turned it’s back on the independent umpire so it can short-change East Timor out of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue,” said Mr Clarke.
News on Timor Leste and Timor Sea dispute with Australia. Australian and international protests put pressure on PM Turnbull.
Tom Clarke TSJC spokesperson:
Good Canberra Rally Tuesday March 15 12.30pm outside Parliament House
Update march 16 Sensational spy allegations continue Read here
Timor Leste lawyer bugged by PM Gillard
Then then foreign Minister Alexander Downer and the head of ASIS David Irvine and current ASIS chief Nick Warner and others have to be investigated for these crimes against the Timor Leste people. The $5billion oil/gas royalties coerced by Downer have to be repatriated in the negotiations on a fair Timor Sea boundary.
BISHOP ACTS LIKE QUEEN
The extraordinary decision of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to refuse to issue a passport to a highly decorated former intelligence officer harks back to the time of the absolute monarch James I, who believed he could act without due deference to Parliament.
Nick Xenophon launched a campaign with Senator John Madigan and Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie to challenge the decision and we were joined by Witness K’s lawyer Bernard Collaery and Australian foreign policy expert Professor Clinton Fernandes. The former officer known as Witness K is a key witness in arbitration proceedings between East Timor and Australia in The Hague relating to whether Australia negotiated the Timor Sea Treaty in good faith and Australia’s biggest spying scandal of the last generation. By depriving Witness K of his passport, the Government is using national security as an alibi not a goal. The decision can be reviewed by the AAT but the Minister can simply certify that the decision involved matters of international relations or criminal intelligence. Therefore, Witness K has no genuine recourse.
Kelvin Thompson ALP spoke at the Canberra rally.
His concluding words were as follows:
“The maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste has been a significant and unresolved issue since the late 1960’s. The Timorese fought for 25 years for their independence. They do not want or need our charity. They simply want what is theirs by law. Timor-Leste seeks to exercise its legal and sovereign right, and Australia seeks to stymie Timor-Leste’s right.
Australia has often said, rightly, that everyone should abide by international law in general and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in particular. It is time we practiced what we preach.”
Click here for the full speech:
Good Adelaide rally SA Parliament House on Monday 21 March at 12.30pm
Good Sydney protests Wednesday 23rd march 12.30 1.30pm Hold banners 4 corners Hyde Park;Greenway Plaza North Sydney; DFAT Offices Angel Place.See FB photos
SBS report of protests
300 at Melbourne rally Thursday 24th March 12.30 DFAT 55 Collins st.
Protests in Dili, Jakarta, Manila, KL and online in the USA.
Please share and attend actions in your city
Deja vu for Timor as Turnbull neglects boundary talks
Frank Brennan | 20 March 2016
When Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister six months ago, our Timorese neighbours thought there might be an opportunity to draw a line on the past and to kick start the negotiation of a permanent maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste. For the moment, they find themselves sadly mistaken.
Activism, aid and sovereign borders By Ann Wigglesworth http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18126
2. Lao Hamutuk report on Timor Leste peaceful protests
3. Turnbull disappoints http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/pm-malcolm-turnbull-disappoints-east-timor-on-talks-on-maritime-boundary-20160301-gn798f.html
4. Full videos of recent Timor Leste Studies Association public seminars on the maritime boundary dispute are now available.
‘Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea: Perspectives in International Law’ (Monday 15 February) & ‘Crocodiles in the Timor Sea: development and socio-economic implications of the maritime resources dispute’ (Tuesday 16 February).
Co-hosted by Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology and the TLSA.
Video presentations here: https://vimeo.com/album/3806646
5. More on the Protest in Timor Leste
The following statement is from the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea, a civil society coalition which has organized a peaceful march and vigil in Dili today, across the street from the Australian Embassy.
Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor (MKOTT)
Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea
Declaration to the Australian Government Dili 23 February 2016
For more than 40 years, Australia has thirsted over oil and marine resources in the Timor Sea which belong to Timor-Leste according to international law and principles. From the beginning, Australia has justified their desire with a variety of arguments. For example, in 1972 Australia made a treaty with Indonesia to define their seabed border. Australia still uses the outdated continental shelf argument to rationalize their occupation, domination and theft from Timor-Lestes people.
In 1974, Australian oil companies discovered the Greater Sunrise gas field. To make it easier to reap resources from Sunrise and elsewhere in Timor-Lestes territory, Australia supported Indonesias 1975 invasion of Timor-Leste which killed nearly 200,000 people.
When Timor-Leste won independence from the illegal Indonesian occupation in 1999, Australia still desired the Timorese peoples resources, and coerced Timor-Leste to accept some Australian rights to the Elang-Kakatua, Bayu-Undan and Greater Sunrise fields. They also pressured Timor-Leste to surrender its rights to the Laminaria-Corallina and Buffalo oil fields, which are in an area claimed by both countries.
Many Australian people believe that your Government has been generous to our people, but this is a misconception.
Since 1999, Australia has provided approximately US$1.7 billion in military and civilian assistance for Timor-Leste through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. During the same sixteen years, the Australian government has received nearly $5 billion dollars in revenues from oil and gas fields which rightfully belong to Timor-Leste. The more than three billion dollars Timor-Leste has given to Australia makes us your largest aid donor, not the other way around.
Timor-Leste continues to endure injustices from Australias occupation of the Timor Sea, and therefore the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) asks the following of the Australian Government:
1. Australia should respect the sovereignty and dignity of the nation of Timor-Leste, as it does for other nations in the world.
2. Australia should return to the mechanisms for resolving maritime boundary disputes of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
3. The Government of Australia should negotiate with the Government of Timor-Leste in good faith.
4. Australia should not continue to use the Continental Shelf argument which is no longer valid under international law.
5. Australia, as a large nation, should not use its economic and political power in the region to continue to take advantage of the Timorese peoples future.
Viva Timor-Leste! Viva the Maubere People!
Down with Australias Occupation of the Timor Sea!
6. News East Timor may drop spying case against Australia if new maritime border struck
Commentary on TL Ambassador Abel Guterres
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/east-timor-may-drop-spying-case-against-australia-if-new-maritime-border-struck-20160215-gmulvf.html#ixzz40wUalXoL
TL: let’s start talks http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/east-timor-to-malcolm-turnbull-lets-start-talks-on-maritime-boundary-20160215-gmugd1.html
Oil, spies and sea cucumbers: East Timor takes on Australia
7. TL government website http://www.gfm.tl
Presentation by H.E. Ambassador Abel Guterres delivered on Behalf of the Government of Timor-Leste
Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay my respects to the elders Past and Present and Future on whose land we gather today. I want to thank the Castan Centre for Human Rights, Monash University and the Swinburne Institute of Technology for hosting this important seminar. I want to acknowledge the participation of International Law Experts Prof. Don Rothwell – ANU, Prof. Don Anton – Griffith University and Dr. I Made Andi Arsana – Gadja Mada University Indonesia.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for us the timing of today’s seminar on the delimitation of maritime boundaries cannot be better. This is because our Prime Minister, Dr. Rui Maria de Araújo has just sent his official letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to request just that – to begin negotiations in good faith on the delimitation of permanent boundaries.
My speech today is not necessarily focused on legal matters, more on politics, although as we all know, law and politics are always hard to deal with as completely separate matters. My speech is the telling of our story trying to settle our maritime boundaries with Australia, in plain and simple language, not finessed with diplomatic nuance.
Academics and lawyers characterise this matter as a dispute. For Timor- Leste all we seek and have continually sought is to negotiate with Australia its permanent and sovereign maritime boundaries and so far the Australian government has not agreed to come to the negotiation table.
The primary goal for Timor-Leste is to achieve demarcation of maritime boundaries based on international law and we are requesting to enter into the next phase of negotiations on permanent maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.
THE NEXT PHASE OF TIMOR SEA TREATY NEGOTIATIONS
The question of the delimitation of permanent maritime boundaries has always been on the table from the Timorese side. When the United Nations, represented by UNTAET (the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor) negotiated what became the current arrangement with Australia, the question of permanent boundaries was put firmly on the table.
Australia preferred, indeed insisted on a temporary arrangement. This temporary arrangement was a new one but one that is prima face modeled on Australia’s treaty with Indonesia, a treaty Timor-Leste regarded as done on an illegal basis and achieved at odds with international law.
The Timor Gap Treaty, which created the Zone of Cooperation (ZOC), was famously signed on an airplane flying over the zone, and celebrated by the two relevant ministers clinking champagne glasses, while the Timorese were being killed by the Indonesian military in genocidal proportions and lived in atrocious conditions.
During the period of the United Nations’ transition, Australia did all it could to shove that treaty at East Timor, to ensure that Timor-Leste had no option but to “agree to it”, just as we were being born as a sovereign State. The pressure from Australia was such that Foreign Minister Alexander Downer felt appropriate and necessary to remind the then Special Representative of the United Nations and Transitional Administrator of East Timor, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, that “Australia could bring meltdown to East Timor if it so chose”.
As you can draw from this mood, it was a situation where the United Nations and the Timorese leaders could not sustain their position under Australian pressure. Lawyers might call this out as unconscionable conduct.
The desperation of Australia to force these treaties onto the Timorese leaders extended to the period of 2004 and 2007 when the CMATS (Certain Maritime Arrangements on the Timor Sea) was pushed through the Australian Parliament. Pushed through by the Government disrespecting at worst or bypassing at best, its own standards for treaty making.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Treaties that analyses treaties, was ignored, before CMATS was subjected to the deliberation of the Parliament. The then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer saw fit to make use of the executive powers of the government to bypass Parliamentary procedures. Mr. Downer argued that his move was to safeguard national interests because the Timorese were soon to go through an election. In giving this reason he invoked the ‘National Interest Exemption’.
CMATS was tabled before Parliament on the 6 February 2007. Mr. Downer announced the National Interest Exemption on 22 February 2007, with the treaty entering into force on 23 February 2007. He explained that he was invoking the National Interest Exemption because: (i) the treaty did not alter arrangements under the Sunrise IUA, which the Committee had already reviewed and supported, (ii) CMATS had been publicly available since January 2006, and (iii) Timor-Leste had indicated to the Australian Government that it wished to move ahead expeditiously to bring CMATS into force, with an opportunity to do so prior to its presidential and parliamentary elections. Mr. Downer explained that, given the importance of the treaty to Australia and Timor-Leste, Australia did not wish to allow an opportunity to pass to finalize the treaty, and it was uncertain when such an opportunity would arise after the Timor-Leste elections. This process was quite interesting, seeing a rarely used exemption invoked for CMATS.
At the time, there was considerable criticism of Mr. Downer’s decision to invoke the exemption, given that the treaty had been signed a year prior to being tabled before Parliament, and the somewhat unclear explanation of Timor’s political circumstances on the decision to expedite CMATS’ entry into force.
In his letter to Dr. Andrew Southcott MP, Mr. Downer wrote “I have decided to invoke national interest exemption and proceed with taking binding treaty action for the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) Treaty even though twenty sitting days have not elapsed since it was tabled”. Mr. Downer went further adding “The CMATS Treaty would also suspend maritime claims for a significant period.” This reference is to a moratorium of fifty years on maritime boundary matters.
Now, we can look back and see that this process is another interesting aspect of the story behind CMATS.
We Timorese believe that had good faith been a feature of our interactions we would have a chance to explore a pipeline to our shores, in the same way that Australia had one to theirs with great benefits ensuing to the Northern Territory and Australian economy. That was not to be. The good faith was blown up firstly by Australia not assisting at all in this endeavor to have a pipeline to our shores or even consider it, and secondly when we had confirmed to us in the second part of 2012 that we were not only spied on during the treaty negotiation, but that Australian agents had entered our government offices to plant listening devices under the guise of an aid project. This was and is still unacceptable.
Thirdly, we believed that Australia would enter into negotiations on the delimitation of maritime boundaries, in the future, having established some temporary arrangements.
Bearing in mind this moratorium clause to quote Mr. Downer, the expectation was that Timor-Leste, even after fourteen years of independence, as a sovereign country and member of the United Nations, still cannot discuss its sovereign rights to access to its natural resources allowed for by international law. This is just not right. And the Government of Timor-Leste is ready and committed to change it.
Adding salt to the wound, on the 22nd of March 2002, two months before Timor-Leste was to become an independent and sovereign State, and a member of the United Nations, Australia saw fit to withdraw itself from the jurisdiction of the ICJ and ITLOS under UNCLOS, in relation to [and I quote] “any dispute concerning or relating to the delimitation of maritime zones, including the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, or arising out of, concerning, or relating to the exploitation of any disputed area of or adjacent to any such maritime zone pending its delimitation”.
ADHERENCE TO INTERNATIONAL LAW
Nevertheless, both the Timor Sea Treaty and CMATS clearly indicate the intention of the parties not to hinder the right to negotiate maritime boundaries in the future; and that such negotiation will be under international law provisions, UNCLOS being one such provision. I hope our experts, academics and supporters today would continue to articulate this for the benefit of a healthy debate and discussion on this important issue.
In this regard, Timor-Leste is encouraged by the recent statements of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull concerning international law. Reflecting upon the South China Sea, Mr. Turnbull advocated that the United States ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea because “non- ratification diminishes American leadership where it is needed most”. This correlation is of vital importance.
Adhering to the rules of international law and leadership in international affairs are intertwined. Reflecting upon the dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia, the fact that Australia withdrew from relevant provisions of UNCLOS to protect itself from dealing specifically with maritime boundary delimitation matters that can only be applicable to Timor-Leste, does not conform to the behavior of a country that wants to also exert its international rules based leadership in our region and beyond. In pursuit of this we observe that Australia is seeking a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
And this is why Timor-Leste welcomed the 2015 resolution of the ALP National Conference to settle permanent maritime boundaries with Timor- Leste based on international law. This resolution, approved unanimously, demonstrated a courageous policy stand by the ALP because of its readiness to put right a wrong and to seriously review the reservations that Australia, under the Coalition government and Mr. Downer, registered in the United Nations to deny any possibility of Timor-Leste taking the maritime boundary dispute to the ICJ or ITLOS.
If you consider those reservations combined with Australia’s current refusal to negotiate maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste, you can see the effect. It has rendered Timor-Leste almost powerless. Almost powerless to exert any pressure on Australia to come to the negotiating table in good faith to
reach a maritime boundary delimitation that is fair, equitable and permanent, as provided for by applicable international law.
The language of the ALP resolution is what we can call a show of leadership and the party’s commitment to find a real solution. The commitment to maintaining a positive relationship with the people of Timor-Leste is certainly echoing what most Australians want. Entering into structured engagement with Timor-Leste to negotiate the settlement of maritime boundaries between both countries reflects what is perceived by Timor- Leste as an act of good faith, particularly when one reaffirms the duty to commit to a rules-based international system and the readiness to review its reservations to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to the settlement of maritime boundary disputes through the ICJ and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
The review promised in that resolution was obviously undertaken forensically with the party that is the alternative government now announcing it will submit itself to the jurisdiction of the judicial umpires of the ICJ and ITLOS, or another mutually agreed forum, to settle permanent maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste if negotiations fail to reach an agreement. This is the right and sensible approach.
We sincerely welcome this approach as one, that is “very Australian”, a phrase we have heard Prime Minister Turnbull use on very serious matters. He said it recently in his most welcome speech on domestic violence. A serious and challenging matter that besets and blights both our societies.
The good will and strong adherence to international norms, which enhances Australia’s reputation as a good international citizen, was well articulated by the Hon Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, in her address to the Press Club last week and in subsequent media interviews. In an interview with Lateline, Shadow Minister Pilbersek said:
“I’m responding to the fact that for decades we haven’t had a proper border with one of our nearest neighbors. I’m responding to that in a way that is acceptable to the Government of East Timor and most importantly, also in Australia’s national interest.
The ongoing uncertainly about where the border lies between our two nations is not in our national interest and it’s also not good for us internationally, not good for our reputation. We are a country that has benefited a great deal through the rule of law internationally – the fact that we were able to take Japan to the ICJ and win the whaling case was because we are party to conventions including UNCLOS – United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea – that allow us to do that.”
We cannot agree more. Entering into negotiations with Timor-Leste now to reach an agreement, in good faith, on maritime boundaries is, indeed, not only the right thing to do but also in Australia’s national interest.
THE CASE OF ESPIONAGE IN THE HAGUE
This seminar also intended to look into “current court cases” and I know that there has been a lot of public attention given to the espionage case. In 2014, Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott and his foreign minister the Hon Julie Bishop asked our then Prime Minister Mr. Xanana Gusmão to drop both cases. The cases being the raid of lawyer Bernard Colleary’s office in Canberra confiscating documents related to the espionage case that culminated in the matter being before the ICJ, as well the espionage case arbitration.
The idea was to begin consultations with Timor-Leste, they said. We said talks.
Again, Timor-Leste, acting in good faith acceded to that request, not dropping the cases but agreeing to suspend them for a period of six months. We decided it would give us time to listen to what Canberra had to say about the request of Timor-Leste to begin maritime boundary negotiations. At the end of the six months suspension period, Canberra had nothing new to say, except its readiness to dialogue on the basis of the current arrangement, as if the current arrangement is a biblical arrangement which one cannot change.
Australia always says, speaking for itself, that they are happy with the current arrangements. Australia says the same speaking for Timor-Leste too! Well yes, we are sure they are, but the current arrangements are clearly not working and bring into question serious matters of legality and indeed morality.
Regarding the case in ICJ it reached a conclusion when Australia decided to return all the documents, thus acknowledging the sovereign rights of Timor- Leste and its proprietary rights in the seized documents. The Australian Attorney-General Mr. Brandis acknowledged, in writing, the obligation of Australia not to interfere with the communications between Timor-Leste and its lawyers.
So this case has concluded.
On the espionage case, Timor-Leste has informed the Tribunal that it is willing to continue with the case, which will probably last for another year until its conclusion. The Australian government has, it seems, talked to the witness known as ‘witness K’, taken away this person’s passport and until now continues to refuse to return it. It seems that the Australian government refuses to allow the witness to make themselves available to the Tribunal, in person, in order to contribute towards the due process of the Tribunal.
The dilemma for the Australian government is that it actively engaged in this legal process, has been following all the procedures, has replied to Timor- Leste’s submission and has access to the affidavit signed by the witness. In addition, the Tribunal has formerly requested Australia and Timor-Leste to cooperate in order to allow the Tribunal access to the witness. Having ‘talked’ to the witness, the onus is now with the Australian government to allow the Tribunal unfettered access to the witness.
The Australian government must cooperate with the Tribunal, and not bypass the natural course of justice. Again, I am no expert in legal procedures and international law, so I leave this issue here.
What I see as important to remember is that, in this case, Timor-Leste did not take the case to the international tribunal based on statements made by witnesses from other countries. Timor-Leste was informed about this espionage case by one of Australia’s own intelligence veterans and Timor- Leste being the victim has the right to pursue, if it so chooses, redress and
the truth, which it did. The reason Timor-Leste opted for an international arbitration tribunal in dealing with this sensitive matter is also relevant. Being such a sensitive matter, it is dealt with in a private hearing where the parties cannot disclose the details of the proceedings. In our view this is proper and reasonable.
IT’S TIME TO DRAW THE LINE
It is now high time to draw the line, as one of Australia’s public intellectuals Father Frank Brennan has written in his works on this matter. One reason is that this is not the first time Timor-Leste calls upon Australia to draw the line. Going back in time, Australia and Indonesia recognized the ‘gap’ as belonging to Timor-Leste. Then Portuguese Timor was asked by Australia to join the negotiation on maritime boundaries, for the 1972 Seabed Boundary Agreement to begin with, but Portugal refused knowing that the law of the sea was evolving and becoming even less favorable to Australia’s position. And Portugal was right. They objected to the spurious continental shelf claim.
More recently in 2004, a United States Congressmen wrote to then Prime Minister John Howard appealing to Australia to negotiate maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste, under international law and in good faith. Even during the negotiations of the Timor Sea Treaty, Timor-Leste discussed the need for permanent maritime boundaries.
Professor Gillian Triggs and Dean Bialek wrote, in their paper “The New Timor Sea treaty and Interim Arrangements for Joint Development of Petroleum Resources of the Timor Gap”, published in 2003 by the University of Melbourne, that “Concerns that ratification of the Timor Sea Treaty will be interpreted as acceptance of the coordinates have prompted calls for East Timor to negotiate new permanent boundaries before it agrees to ratify”.
The National Parliament of Timor-Leste has also adopted legislation on maritime boundaries, including the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a middle line, closing the gap, so that Timor-Leste has what rightfully belongs to it, an EEZ.
I began by pointing out that we are ready and would want to enter the post phase of the Timor Sea Treaty and CMATS negotiations. I also stated that both treaties have a clear “without prejudice” clause to protect the rights and positions of each party to negotiate maritime boundaries in due course.
It is time to get back to the negotiation table to discuss, in good faith and within the realms of international law, maritime boundaries between our two friendly nations. After all, Australia has settled its maritime boundaries with its other five neighbors. Only less than two percent remains, which is with its sixth neighbor – Timor-Leste. It is time.
Bearing in mind our common history, including the active solidarity the Timorese showed to Australia during the Second World War, our call for maritime boundaries delimitation should fall on a receptive, friendly ear in Canberra. After all, about 50,000 (fifty thousand) Timorese died for supporting the Australian commandos in WWII, they died in defense of the sovereignty of Australia.
Now, when the Timorese call for maritime boundary negotiations with Australia, it is calling on Australia to help finally define the Timorese people’s sovereignty, to conclude a quarter of century struggle for our national independence and sovereignty of the new state.
Australia and Timor-Leste are loyal friends and allies with a bond of friendship forged in times of war and misery, tested in the rugged mountain jungles of Timor-Leste during WWII. The Timorese villagers and the trusted Criados never betrayed their Aussie mates and ensured that they stayed alive to come back home to their loved ones in Australia.
Please Australia; it is time to Right the Wrong in the Timor Sea and give your close friends, next door – a fair go!
4. ALP Tanya Plibersek Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development
Strained Relations With Our Newest Neighbour
5 ‘Sounds like fun’: Aussie diplomats mocked reports of Indonesian rape and murder of Timorese
From Andy Alcock: Australian diplomats mock the rape and torture of East Timorese
(MSN News 22 February 2016)
MSN News and the SMH listed an article that revealed that Australian diplomats had ridiculed the rape and torture of East Timorese at the hands of the invading Indonesian military as something that “sounds like fun”, .
The annotations made in 1976, less than a year after the occupation began, were found on a memo sent to the Australian embassy in Jakarta from colleagues at the embassy in The Hague. They were discovered by by Monash Uni researchers Sara Niner and Kim McGrath
AETFA SA believes that rape can never be considered as fun and is, in fact, a brutal crime against humanity. This is especially so when it is being committed on a mass scale along with the crime of genocide. If such remarks had been made about the victims of the Nazis during World War 2 (gypsies, Jews, unionists and socialists), there would have been righteous outrage.
How come it was thought as acceptable by Australia officials to hold such attitudes towards the victims of Indonesian fascism?
AETFA SA has released the following comment about the story:
Sara Niner and Kim McGrath are to be applauded for revealing these notes made on official Australian documents by Australian officials regarding the crimes committed against humanity by the Indonesian military (TNI) in East Timor.
No matter what arguments are made to defend these attitudes held by a number of Australian diplomats and politicians during the time of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, most Australians who value human rights and the rule of international law have every right to be appalled by them. After all, they are very cynical, callous and arrogant attitudes for officials to hold towards a people who arefacing genocide and human rights abuses. This was a very shameful period of our nation’s history.
During World War 2, the East Timorese were slaughtered by the Japanese Imperial Army because they gave great assistance to Australian commandos who fought there The East Timor lost about 70,000 lives out of a total population of 500,000 during the war while Australia lost 40,000 out of 7 million.
For Australian officials to make fun of a people who showed us great friendship and sacrificed so much because of that support, it is nothing short of disgraceful that when they were suffering genocide and sickening human rights abuses again.
It is well-known that the TNI used rape as a strategy in East Timor as it does in West Papua today.
Of course, there is a certain irony about this revelation. Many conservative Australians who want Australia to follow US policies without question because of the assistance given to us in World War 2 by the US are amongst those who want us to forget the great sacrifice made by the East Timorese for Australia.
History shows that in 1965 it was the US CIA that assisted the TNI to overthrow democracy in Indonesia and to install the brutal Suharto dictatorship. During its 33 years in power, the military dictatorship was responsible for massive loss of civilian live and sickening abuses of human rights in Indonesia, West Papua, East Timor and Acheh.
On 6 December 1975, the eve of the TNI’s full-scale invasion of East Timor, former US president, Gerald Ford, and former US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, met with General Suharto and gave support to his planned invasion of East Timor. The fact is that the support by the US and its allies of the invasion and occupation of East Timor is something of great shame and indicates that those justifying the invasion and the cynical attitudes to the crimes that were committed show that they have little regard for international law, democracy, human rights and social justice.
The hilighting of the use of “impotent” in the FRETILIN report to describe the ability of the TNI is understandable if one knows the background. I have had discussions with former East Timorese and West Papuan resistance fighters and they have told me that the TNI performed very poorly in the field but that it was very effective at torture, rape and mass executions of civilians.
It is also ironic that these facts have come to light at a time when Australian officials, in violation of international law, are justifying the stealing of oil and gas from Timor-Leste’s half of the Timor Sea. Because Timor-Leste has raised this issue at the International Court of Justice, the current Australian government has sought to pervert the course of justice by stealing papers from an Australian lawyer representing Timor-Leste and withdrawing the passport of a vital witness to the court case – dishonestly claiming the actions were taken because of national security.
Many courageous Australians and East Timorese fought side by side in the struggle against fascism during World War 2. Those who sacrificed so much in that struggle would feel betrayed if they knew that Australian governments were supporting terrorist organisations like the TNI or were appointing officials to represent us who showed an irresponsible attitude to the principles of democracy, human rights and social justice.
Most humanitarian Australians who take a responsible attitude to fair dealing between nations call upon the Australian Government to:
* cease its cynical and callous attitude towards the people of Timor-Leste who have suffered so much at the hands of the TNI and US and Australian complicity
* work towards making Australia an independent and non-aligned nation that promotes democracy, peace, social justice and fairness between nations
* only employs Australians in its diplomatic service who have a proven commitment to the principles referred to above
Andrew (Andy) Alcock Information Officer
Australia East Timor Friendship Association (South Australia) Phone: 61 8 8371048 0457 827 014
6.Timor Sea Justice Campaign Update
TSJC campaign meeting in Melbourne is at 6pm on Thursday 25 February at Trades Hall on the corner of Lygon and Victoria streets. Lots to talk about and lots to plan – including our upcoming protest action 24 March 12.30pm DFAT Collins st.
Alexander Downer as the Minister and David Irvine head of ASIS and DFAT bureaucrats ordered and carried out the illegal bugging the TL PM’s office and coerced them in an unfair agreement depriving the TL people of 5 billion in royalties and they have to be exposed in a judicial enquiry, with witness “K” proving what happened.
7. Australia East Timor Association The first AGM since Incorporation of AETA and the last to be held in the first floor foyer at the office on the corner of George and Webb Street Fitzroy before moving. At the last AGM, Secretary John Sinnott was congratulated on receiving the Medal of the Order of Timor-Leste.
Elections will be held for the Committee and new program ideas will be discussed and also the ongoing campaign on permanent maritime boundaries between Timor-Leste and Australia.
New members are welcome to stand for election. Volunteers are also called welcome for the sub-committees: Village Technology, Education, Health and Communications. For further information phone AETA on 9416 2960. Please invite others who might be interested, particularly those with Timor experience. The next event will be a welcome to the new Timorese students in Melbourne.
If you are not already a member you can pay on the day Membership is currently $15.00 per year ($5.00 concession) but will probably be raised at the AGM so get in early! You can join on-line at http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=102794