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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 395


Mr FRY(5.37) —I find it rather sad that, having listened to the very strong report by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) this morning on the inexcusable brutality of the shooting down of a civilian airliner and having supported that resolution, as I know all honourable members did, we now get a report on the same day that white washes a much greater degree of brutality in East Timor. It was a disgusting and inexcusable act of brutality to shoot down an airliner with 269 people on board, but over the last eight years somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people have been killed in East Timor. Almost one-third of the population has been wiped out. One would not know that from reading the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Indonesia. The report is a justification for Indonesian aggression; there is no question about that. It was not the intent of the Delegation to do that but that was inevitably what would result in this sort of report. The Indonesians are very experienced and very expert at stage-managing such visits. How could one possibly get a balanced view of what is happening or what has happened in East Timor?

I was very sad, on coming into the chamber today, to hear the distortions of history being perpetuated time and again about what went on in East Timor. A member of the Opposition said that the terrible Fretilin people were responsible for the civil war. This is absolute nonsense. If people really want to know what happened in East Timor they should read that very excellent book of Jim Dunn called East Timor-A People Betrayed. That spells out very clearly what actually happened. It is a very fine book and every member of this Parliament should read it. The people of East Timor have been betrayed again today with this report which does nothing but whitewash the sorry, tragic history of what happened to the East Timorese people as a result of the brutal aggression of the Indonesians .

I can only applaud the decision of Senator McIntosh to weigh in with a dissenting report. I am very glad that somebody stood up and said that all the Indonesian propaganda should not be accepted and that we should have a look at the other side of the picture. The honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) said that the honourable senator was under pressure. He was under pressure from his own conscience not to accept the propaganda that was being fed to him. I congratulate him on coming to terms with his conscience and for saying what he felt about it in the light of his experience, the contact he has had with the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that has been looking into the situation and the huge bulk of evidence-I hope some of it will come out shortly in the Committee's report-which points up the brutality of the Indonesian occupation. One would have no inkling of it whatever from what I have read in this report so far. To point up the inadequacy of it, I refer to page 213, appendix 35, which deals with a Press conference on 3 August. The leader was asked about a report from me that the Indonesians were to launch a new attack on Fretilin. He rather rubbished that. He answered:

We have one advantage over Mr Fry and Mr Araujo . . . we have just been there and we have seen for our own eyes and we have discussed with the Governor, with the military commander. I have already detailed the military commander's attitude and his mode of operations. Certainly nothing we saw, nothing we were told there gives any credence to that report.

He said there was no credence in the report. A week later, the great gung ho general, General Moerdani, confirmed the report from the mouth of the leading general in Indonesia: 'We are going to launch a major operation against Fretilin '. I remind the House that there are only supposed to be two hundred of them left. General Moerdani continued: 'We are going to launch a major operation and wipe them out,-once again'. They have been wiped out so many times. It is time we learnt the lesson that these people are not just going to lie down and be trodden on and walked over by the Indonesians.

It does not matter what we do, how many mealy-mouthed speeches we make, reports we bring out or foreign affairs cliches we use about friends, neighbours and relatives and all that sort of nonsense, or what goes on in the United Nations. The people on the ground will decide what is going to happen in East Timor. I have spoken recently to the East Timorese who have come to Darwin. They have said: 'It does not matter what happens outside. It does not matter what Australia, America or the UN does. We will never accept Indonesian domination. It does not matter what Fretilin does, even if it comes to some arrangement. We will never accept Indonesian domination.' I think we should remember this and not just accept the pragmatic, so called real politik view of the foreign affairs people and our own pragmatists who say: 'All right, the Indonesians are there. We can't get them out. We must accept them.' That is nonsense. History has a habit of catching up with aggression. It will catch up wilth the Indonesian aggression in East Timor the same as it will anywhere else. It might take a long time but it will happen. We should not sanctify Indonesia's aggression by whitewashing its actions in the way that we have done in the report.

I speak in support of Gordon McIntosh's report. On page 83, the main sentence in his report is:

There is a clear tendency to gloss over the circumstances in which East Timor was illegally seized in a long operation which caused great suffering to the Timorese people, whose current attitudes to their new situation we were simply not able to assess.

We can understand the difficulties of the Delegation. The members of the Delegation were the captives of their hosts, but they did have a wonderful opportunity to make this report something worthwhile. That was when the two Fretilin people walked out of the bush and conducted a conversation with the leader. Unfortunately, the Delegation turned its back on a wonderful opportunity to get the other side of the story; to hear an alternative view point about what was going on. They had gone to the trouble of arranging a delegation to be there to meet our Delegation and we turned our back on them.

I read the transcript of the recordings of the discussion that took place. I have some sympathy with the leader in that I believe that a misinterpretation of the conversation may have led him to make that decision. I have read the transcript, and that is how it seems to me. It was quite clearly misinterpreted. What they said was not in fact what they conveyed to the honourable member for St George. I give him the benefit of the doubt but, even so, the members of the Delegation missed a wonderful opportunity of meeting those people and hearing something of the Fretilin view point. Unfortunately, they turned their back on it.

The other aspect I want to make some reference to is the fact that after eight years the killing continues. Even though my report was rubbished at the time, it has now been confirmed. We have had a report from Lord Avebury, of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament signed by hundreds of parliamentarians calling on the right of self-determination for the East Timorese. We have also had a report from the Timorese independence liberation movement in Lisbon spelling out in great detail some of the atrocities that have been committed on particular individuals in East Timor at the hands of the Indonesian invaders. People have been publicly castrated and left to die in the sun. People have had their bodies mutilated. There has been a report of cannabalism-one of the people eating a captured Fretilin person who was killed and saying: 'This is what we do to Fretilin', to try to frighten the life out of people. We cannot just turn our backs on this and say: 'It has happened. Too bad . We can't do anything about it.' I am just as concerned as anybody in this Parliament with having good relations with Indonesia. I do not see that we can't have good relations with Indonesia on the basis of their respecting our point of view as we respect theirs.

We have a policy about the right of self-determination for all people. There is no question about that. Yet we are being advised to turn our back on it, forget it and say: 'Too bad'. We must not do that. Self-determination will not be brought about by politicians making statements here. As I said, it will be brought about on the ground of East Timor. But at the same time, Australian Labor Party policy is to support the right of self-determination for the East Timorese. It will not be changed either by people making statements in this House about how our delegation should vote at the next UN meeting on this issue. It should be and it will be decided by the Party itself.

I ask honourable members to look at what happens in these situations. We cannot just say that the Indonesians are there, and therefore do nothing about it. The Indonesians have been in West Irian for 23 years. The people there are still resisting them. They will not accept them. The Indonesians have not succeeded in winning their minds and their hearts. There are plenty of other examples, of course, in places such as Ireland. The Armenians have been killing the Turks for many, many, years. That will go on. I do not think we can expect the East Timorese people just to lie down and forget about it. They are not built that way. They are a fine, proud race of people who value their independence more than anything else. They are not urgently in need of aid. I refer briefly to the list of names I gave to the honourable member for St George. It was not the list of places that were in the control of Fretilin. They were places which were fairly critical in relation to the possibility of famine or starvation. I understand, in fact, that it was confirmed. Some of the places the Delegation went to were not actually flowing with milk and honey. The position was rather tight. There is no question about that.

I think that this report is a great shame. It will be seen for what it is-a whitewash for the Indonesian presence in East Timor. It will be used as such in a most blatant way, as propaganda. I think that the way it is written really destroys its own credibility by presenting such a one-eyed picture of what is going on in East Timor. I do not say that as a personal criticism of the Delegation. Members of the Delegation were captives of their hosts: they reported what they saw. Naturally the Indonesians guaranteed that they did not see anything the Indonesians did not want them to see. I give full credit to Senator McIntosh for putting in a dissenting report. I can assure honourable members he was under no pressure from his colleagues. The only conflict he had was that he wanted to get a consensus but he had the problem of his own conscience in signing a report with which he did not agree. I congratulate him for bringing out a dissenting report which adds a little balance to a one-eyed view of the situation.