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Tuesday, 18 May 1993
Page: 651

To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:

  We, the undersigned of this public petition strongly support the campaign initiated by the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) subcommittee of Central America along with more than 12 representative institutions. The central objective of this campaign is: that the Australian nation play a more relevant role in the process to consolidate peace and democracy in El Salvador.

  The UN Secretary General has noted that El Salvador is a model of particular importance for the peaceful resolution of internal conflicts in other parts of the world. If Civil/Democratic values are to prevail over military objectives in El Salvador then the international community, including the Australian Government, must contribute to the strengthening of Salvadoran society.

  We, as individuals and as part of the Australian community in general, feel that for the first time in the history of El Salvador a real possibility exists for civil society to be the principal force of its own destiny in a truly participatory democracy.

  El Salvador has a rich experience in efficient, productive, self-sustaining peasant communities, both past and present, which could be the foundation of an alternative economic structure. In order to solve existing inequalities, self-governance must be the key factor for the future.

  We strongly believe that international and, in particular, Australian assistance at this time can contribute to long-term peace in El Salvador and to a reconciliation process based on mutual understanding between human beings. Hence, we call upon the Australian Government to:

1.Commence discussion with the UN Secretary General about the means by which we may become more actively involved in El Salvador, including through the provision of Australian personnel for ONUSAL, UNHCR, UNV.

2.Send an Australian Government delegation to visit El Salvador in early 1993.

3.Immediately establish a Special Humanitarian Fund (SHF) of $2,000,000 over a three-year period to be made available through Australian NGOs currently working with Salvadoran partner agencies.

  We, your petitioners, therefore request the Senate to implement the above.

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