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Melbourne Support for a Free East Timor
- September 1999

Linda, a Melbourne Office worker, showing her support for East Timor After the people of East Timor voted for independence on the 30th August 1999, the Indonesian Military launched into a scorched earth rampage of the territory. People around the world reacted immediately - including the people of Melbourne. Victorian Trades Hall Council assisted with office space and co-ordinating protests - including the site. Thirty thousand people rallied in the city on short notice on the 10th of September 1999. Another forty thousand people marched on Sunday 19th September 1999. A picket and an East Timor vigil was set up outside the Indonesian consulate.

Along with many other people I attended some of the protest rallies, wrote letters and sent faxes. This site documents a few of the rallies and events during September 1999. While many people were calling for United Nations intervention, some groups such as the Democratic Socialist Party were calling for Australia to unilaterally invade East Timor. I circulated on several lists an anti-militarist statement by 'ablokeimet' - which argued for an escalation of workers action, not military action to avoid an escalation of military repression of democratic, student and union organisations in Indonesia. The fledgling union movement in Indonesia called for withdrawal of the Indonesian military and independence for East Timor. Many Indonesians protested against increased military power in Indonesia.

One final point - in September 1945, 54 years ago, Australian wharfies refused to work an Armada of Dutch ships in Australia preparing to reimpose Dutch colonial Government in Indonesia after the 1939-1945 World War. The Indonesians were successful in achieving independence from the Dutch. The Australian Trade Union movement contributed to that struggle, as it now contributes towards an independent East Timor.


ACTU drops Union Bans - Monday 20 September

As United Nations Forces entered East Timor, the Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU) announced today that all remaining industrial bans on Indonesian interests have been suspended due to the arrival of peacekeepers in East Timor.

While the ACTU continues to work for social justice for the East Timorese, this decision is disappointing in relaxing the economic and social pressure on the Indonesian Government. Particularly disturbing are the refugee "concentration camps" in West Timor managed by the same people from the "militias" of East Timor. These people are being held hostage under conditions of disease, famine, torture and murder. United Nations Refugee and other Aid agencies are being denied access to inspect these camps, as are journalists and other international observers. One hundred and fifty thousand people are thought to be held captive in these camps. Pro-independence supporters are being identified using Death Lists drawn up by Indonesian military intelligence and then murdered.

See ACTU press release


Melbourne Rally - Sunday 19 September

19 September 1999 An estimated crowd of forty thousand people gathered in the center of Melbourne to protest the Indonesian military genocide on the people of East Timor. Calls were made for the withdrawal of the Indonesian military, the establishment of war crimes tribunals, and the release of hostages in West Timor and elsewhere.

Many people Called for war crimes tribunals. General Wiranto is Defence Minister and head of the Indonesian military and should be held accountable for the atrocities of soldiers under his line of command.

The rally was joined by a busload of Timorese people recently evacuated from the UN compound in Dili. To tears and cheers they lead the march around the streets of Melbourne.

More Photos

At the same time, in Darwin, United Nations forces prepare to enter East Timor.

Melbourne East Timor Rally 19Sep99

Melbourne East Timor Rally 19Sep99
Many Community Organisations such as Community Aid Abroad, and Unions such as the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) participated and encouraged their members to attend.


West Timor - Genocide continues in Concentration Camps

18 September 1999 Many people around the world have been outraged at the events in East Timor. The brutality and atrocities by the Indonesian military, and the militias which are nothing more than thinly disguised military fronts, have caused hundreds of thousands of people in Australia, Portugal and around the world to march in protest, to pray, to send letters, faxes and emails to our politicians in the United Nations, our own nations, and the Indonesian Government in particular.

The United Nations forces are entering a devastated country with a people in hiding, on the edge of starvation, their villages and towns looted and destroyed.

Many thousands of people have been murdered by the Indonesian military and tens of thousands have been forced to leave East Timor by this same military regime. They are being held captive in refugee concentration camps in West Timor, and probably elsewhere in Indonesia. The camps are run be the militias (or is this really the Indonesian Military?), with access barred to Aid and Relief Organisations and journalists.

I urge you to send a letter or fax, to the United Nations, your own elected politician, or to Alexander Downer, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Philip Ruddock, Australian Minister for Immigration.


Indonesian Unionists back East Timor freedom struggle

15 September 1999 - (The following statement was sent to ACTION IN SOLIDARITY WITH INDONESIA AND EAST TIMOR - ASIET. Published on Leftlink)


Boycott Bali! Campaign - 12 September 1999

Boycott Bali

Bali is the headquarters of the Udayana military region which includes occupied East Timor. Indonesian rule has cost the lives of well over 200,000 East Timorese and the deaths, disappearances, imprisonments, torture, rape and cultural genocide continue - all the result of military operations directed from Bali!


Melbourne Rally - Friday 10 September

10 September 1999 Thirty thousand people came together with just a few days notice in the center of Melbourne to protest the Indonesian military genocide on the people of East Timor. This demonstrated to the Australian Government the outrage felt by the Australian people at the atrocities being committed in East Timor. Australians are calling for an end to the political inaction that has dominated foreign policy towards the plight of East Timor by successive Australian Governments, both Liberal and Labor.

Melbourne East Timor Rally 10Sep99
Crowds gather outside the Melbourne GPO

Melbourne East Timor Rally 10Sep99
"Martial Law - Licence to Kill Even More"

Melbourne East Timor Rally 10Sep99
Safe Haven demanded in Australia for East Timorese

Melbourne East Timor Rally 10Sep99
The feeling of betrayal by the United Nations unpreparedness
and betrayal by Australian Prime Ministers:
Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating & Howard


A few Useful Links

Free East Timor!
While our leaders engage in diplomacy, the Indonesian government engages in genocide.
To support the people of East Timor send a fax from

Visit :
| Labourstart News | ZNET Articles |

Stop the Killing
Stop the genocide
Stop all military aid
Boycott Indonesian Goods and services

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Last modified: June 17, 2000

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