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KASAMA Vol. 11 No. 4 / October-November-December 1997 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Philippine Solidarity for East Timor and Indonesia

c/o PCISP,
70-1 Matahimik St.,
Teacher's Village,
Quezon City,
Philippines
Tel: 435 4584 / Fax: 435 4533
Email: kakammpi@skyinet.net

MANILA - 12 November 1997

Dear Friends,

Today's solidarity activities went smoothly as planned. At 10:45 we marched from Ayala Avenue in Makati, the capital's financial district, to the Australian embassy where we staged a brief picket. We read aloud PHIL-SETI's urgent appeal to the Australian government. We also read the ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) report on their activity last November 8 in Australia on the same issue. A delegation submitted the letter of appeal to embassy staff.

From the Australian embassy, we proceeded to the Indonesian embassy where we also held a short program. Solidarity messages were shared by representatives of the different organizations present like the Ateneo Human Rights Center, the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific (LAWASIA), Philippine Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Sanlakas, Kamalayan, Ateneo de Naga, BISIG, Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP), Initiatives for International (IID), Asia Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET), People's Front for Bases Clean Up, National Federation of Student Councils, University of the Philippines Student Council, People's Council for International Solidarity and Peace (PCISP), and Philippine Solidarity for East Timor and Indonesia (PHIL-SETI).

A commotion occurred when Indonesian embassy staff tried desperately, but failed to stop a youth painting the embassy wall with the slogan "Free East Timor". The program ended with the singing of Unang Alay (first offering) in honor of the victims of the Dili massacre and all befallen heroes of the East Timor struggle. The names of some of the East Timorese who have been summarily executed, arrested and made to disappear in 1996 were displayed in memoriam on a big board and flowers were offered.

The most poignant feature were the mounted photos showing Indonesian brutality in action in East Timor. These blown-up photos, courtesy of Dr. Andrew McNaughtan of Sydney, Australia, were displayed prominently all throughout the march and the program. We dispersed in the scorching heat of the mid-day sun and went back to our respective offices feeling exhilarated and surely looking forward to our next mobilization on December 7.

Aluta continua! Viva Timor Leste! Thank you.

Urgent Appeal to the Australian Government

Submitted to the Australian Embassy in Makati City, 12 November 1997 by Philippine Solidarity for East Timor and Indonesia (Phil-SETI)

We, members of Philippine Solidarity for East Timor and Indonesia (Phil-SETI), together with fellow Filipino human rights advocates, friends and supporters of East Timor, make this urgent appeal to the Australian government to grant asylum to 1,385 East Timorese who have sought refuge and protection in Australia, among families, relatives and friends.

They have fled the horrors of the brutal occupation of the Indonesia army. The absence of any political freedoms and the possibility of being arrested, tortured, raped and murdered have forced them to leave their homeland and seek refuge in Australia.

The East Timorese do not want to go to a third country. They wanted to stay with their families and friends in Australia. Many of them have been in Australia for two years. The East Timorese feel safe in Australia. They feel protected because other members of their families and communities in East Timor who have escaped the brutality of the Indonesian occupation of their country have also sought refuge in Australia. In the Australian northern territory, in Darwin, where the biggest East Timorese population is settled, the Timorese could see East Timor in the horizon.

The Australian government has been fighting in the courts and through the Immigration Department to prevent the East Timorese refugees from staying in Australia. Their situation of uncertainty, of no residency rights to welfare, work etc. is causing immense emotional, psychological and material suffering for these East Timorese.

At the same time, the Portuguese government, to whom the Australian government would like to endorse the East Timorese, has stated that it will not accept East Timorese who does not wish to go to Portugal.

We, therefore, make this urgent appeal to the Australian government to agree to a submission made jointly by all the East Timorese community organisations in Australia to the Australian Minister for Immigration requesting that the East Timorese refugees be granted a humanitarian category visa even if this requires legislation to create such a category.

The East Timorese left East Timor to escape the brutality of the Indonesian military forces. For more than two decades now, they have endured the sufferings under the illegal occupation. Having arrived in Australia, they face another, more subtle but also very painful form of brutality.

Please stop forced repatriation of East Timorese.

Phil-SETI Steering Committee Members: Ateneo Human Rights Center; BISIG; Movement for Popular Democracy; PAHRA; Pandayan; PCISP; PCPR; PDSP; Sanlakas; Sarilaya; Siglaya; Women's Legal Bureau; Dr. Joel Rocamora; Gus Miclat; Renato Constantino, Jr.

Back issues of Kasama containing the following articles are available upon request:

"No Christmas Without Human Rights" by Australian Democrats' Senator Rev. John Woodley - a seasonal reflection on East Timor, Vol.6 Nos.5&6, Sept/Dec 1992.

"Issues and Controversies: Manila Conference on East Timor" interview by Emere Distor with Renato Constantino Jr., Vol.8 Nos. 4&5, July/Sept 1994.

"To Resist Is To Win" by Emere Distor - CPCA Brisbane solidarity message, East Timor rally, and "Wall of Testimony" - Lafaek, Darwin's East Timorese Cultural Group national tour, extract from performance program, Vol.9 No.6, Nov/Dec 1995.

There is also available a tape of "I Want To Be Free", a radio documentary about the history of East Timor produced by Hank Wymarra for 4TripleA Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.

Contact: SPAN/CPCA, 84 Park Rd, Woolloongabba 4102
Tel: (07) 3891 5877 or Fax: (07) 3891 6944
Email:

Sydney, April 10-13 1998

The Asia Pacific Institute for Democratisation and Development (API) is organising a solidarity conference to discuss and assess the struggle for socially just development in the region. As we go to press, the Conference publicity includes three speakers from the Philippines who are members of the API interim council:

Renato Constantino Jr. is the founding convenor of APCET (Asia Pacific Coalition for East Timor) and president of Sanlakas;

Dr. Francisco Nemenzo is the founding president of BISIG and professor of political science, University of the Philippines;

Anna Maria Nemenzo is the convener of Women's Health Movement-Philippines.

For more information about API and the 1998 Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference contact Dr. Helen Jarvis, SILAS, University of NSW, Sydney 2052 or by fax on (02) 9690 1381 or email: apiaustralia@peg.apc.org

Update from Philippines Union News

On December 10, Human Rights Day, over 2,000 B'laan people and residents of General Santos City organised a jeepney "peace caravan" from the Western Mining mine site at Tampakan to the city and there held a protest rally outside WMC headquarters. They were calling for the proposed open cut gold and copper mine to be stopped. The protest was organised by local human rights and church-based organisations.

Philippines Australia Union Links (PAUL) and Indigenus Pilipinas are focussing their campaign in Australia on WMC shareholders urging them to call upon WMC management to withdraw from the Tampakan Project, or to sell their shares in WMC, or to give proxies to Indigenus Pilipinas to take the protest to the November 1998 WMC Annual General Meeting.

[In July and August 1997, the Uniting Church in Australia sponsored the speaking tour of two B'laan tribesmen, Willy Gulaya and Juanito Malid. See "We Feel The Pain Of Our Mountain" in Kasama Vol.11 No.3 July/Sept 97.]

Commemorate May Day with Filipino Workers at the KMU 15TH ISA 1998

The KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno - May First Movement Labor Center) 15th International Solidarity Affair will run from April 28 to May 8, 1998. In addition to the three-day conference, participants can also opt to join the Metro Manila and regional exposure trips.

For more information write to: PAUL, P.O. BOX A671, SYDNEY SOUTH 2000 or telephone Brian Beer (02) 9897 2011 or Peter Murphy (02) 9310 3966.