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UN talks welcome step towards independent East Timor.

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Senator Vicki Bourne

Senator for New South Wales

Australian Democrats Whip






Australia should immediately reverse its recognition of Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor, following last night’s breakthrough in talks between Portugal and Indonesia, the Australian Democrats said today.


Senator Vicki Bourne, Democrat Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Spokesperson, said “The communiqué issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Portugal and Indonesia is an welcome and important step on the long path to solving the problem of East Timor.


“However, it is difficult to see how talks can effectively progress while so many East Timorese political prisoners are incarcerated in Indonesian gaols. I urge the Indonesian Government to show its goodwill by immediately releasing all these prisoners, including Xanana Gusmao.


“Experience in New Caledonia shows that partial autonomy can satisfy the wishes of formerly colonised peoples. It is possible that New Caledonia can provide a model for the process in East Timor.


“Ultimately, the only viable solution is self-determination for the East Timorese. Whatever is contained in the accord must be acceptable to the people of East Timor. The only way to assess the merits of an accord between Portugal and Indonesia is by allowing the people of East Timor to decide via the ballot box — a fundamental human right which they have for too long been denied.


“Australia stands alone as the sole western nation recognising Indonesia’s illegal and brutal occupation of East Timor.


“This is a unique opportunity for the Coalition to show leadership by bringing Australia in step with other western nations by dropping that recognition. For that matter, it would bring Government policy in line with the overwhelming wishes of the Australian people.”


“Australia has a moral and historic responsibility to play a constructive role helping to bring the parties together for the next crucial steps to ending the oppression of our East Timorese neighbours.


“After so many years of suffering, violence and oppression in East Timor, it really is time for an Australian Government to finally act on that responsibility.”



Contact Senator Bourne: 02 9247 3377 W  or  018 205 407 H