East Timor Activities in Germany

NEWSLETTER – International Communication Project, ICP – No. 21: “Europe and East”, AStA Universität Hannover – Student Union of Hannover University, February 1995

“The European Responsibility for East Timor” and “East Timor – an
International Responsibility”

by Claus Roehl, Schrozberg, Germany

Asta_hannoverUnder these headings, conferences were held at the Evangelischen Akademie (Protestant Acadamy) in Iserlohn, Germany from September 30th to October 2nd – , and afterwards at the University of Porto, Portugal. During these conferences, experts from all over the world gave an overview on latest developments and the present situation in East Timor.

Dr. Gilmar Mendez, Brazil, a member of the Constitutional Commission, and Renato Constantino Junior, Philippines, representative of the Asia-Pacific-Conference on East Timor (APCET), gave lectures on the international and regional reactions to the occupation of East Timor. Dr. Ariffin Omar, Malaysia, reported on the perspectives of the Malaysian government, while Professor Roger Clark of the Rudgers Law School/USA, spoke about the right of the East Timorese people to self-determination.

Christine Chinkin, Professor at the Law Faculty of the Southampton University and a member of the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (IPJET), pointed out European reaction to the invasion of East Timor. She also pointed out the role of the western media, which, in the past, had only very scarcely reported on East Timor. In this, she refered to the film documentary of Noam Chomsky, in which the reaction of European countries is impressively exposed. The reaction of the European countries, especially after the Dili massacre, as well as the arms trade with Indonesia were the main focus of her report.

Rainer Kahrs, journalist and member of the BUKO campaign “Stop the Arms Trade” laid open a detailed list of German arms trade to Indonesia during the conference in Iserlohn. Most interesting in this case is the fact that Indonesia is the biggest trading partner of Germany in arms. Besides the actual arms trade, one should not forget that Indonesia is producing the rifle G3 and the helicopter BO 105, under license – weapons and weapons systems produced in Indonesia and therefore not mentioned in any German export balance sheet.

Klemens Ludwig, journalist and member of the “Gesellschaft fuer Bedrohte Voelker” (Organisation for Threatened Peoples), gave an overview of the historical development of East Timor, starting from the pre-colonial epoch until the present day. It became obvious, not only in this report, that a profound change of the political situation in Indonesia is the basis for the right to self-determination.

During the opening session of the conference in Porto, the Northern Ireland Nobel prize laureat Mairead McGuire gave an enthusiastic and deeply moving report. Her explantions on the positive development of the political situation in Northern Ireland, which, not long ago, were regarded as being at a deadlock and hopeless and only recently took such a surprising turn, raised the question why such a surprsing turn should not also be possible in East Timor. For her speech, during which Mrs McGuire had great difficulties to supress tears, was rewarded with a standing ovation by the conference participants.

Arnold Cohen reported on the work of the Christian Conference in the USA. The American bishops had declared that they will stand up stronger for East Timor in the future. Outwardly, they are addressing religious freedom and human rights abuses as well as disturbances of church masses which have recently increased drastically.

The exiled Timoreses José Ramos Horta, UN-representative of the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM), and José Amorim Dias, European spokesman of the CNRM, gave an insight into the present state of the negotiations between the Portuguese and the Indonesian representatives under UN-supervision, as well as human rights abuses in East Timor. Ramos Horta explained in a detailed account the different steps of a CNRM-peace plan, of which the release of Xanana Gusmão is a pre-condition for further negotiations. Phase 1 of this plan describes the entire de-militarisation of East Timor, phase 2 describes the autonomy of East Timor, based on the de-militarisation. This means free access of NGO’s, a Timorese council as well as free elections under UN supervision. Phase 3 will finally lead to the self-determination of East Timor.

The representatives of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), Mari Alkatiri, and of the Democratic Union of Timor (UDT), Zacarias da Costa, demanded the European countries to finally put pressure on Indonesia. Now more than ever, after the USA had cut down arms trading with Indonesia after the Novembe 12 massacre, Indonesia itself is looking for compensation in Europe. How successful they have been, is shown impressively by the British delivery of Hawk fighter planes and the German delivery of NVA warships (NVA = former GDR army). Furthermore, Germany promised to deliver submarines and to train Indonesian marines.

Pedro Pinto Leite, chairman of IPJET, as well as Professor Clark, called attention to the forthcoming decision of the Timor Gap agreement between Indonesia and Australia, expected for 1995. This agreement, which regulates the mutual exploitation of the East Timorese oil fields by Australia and Indonesia, was brought to the International Court by Portugal.

Liem Soei Liong of Tapol, London, gave an overview of the present political situation in Indonesia. His report was completed by representatives of different NGO’s from Indonesia, who attended both conferences in Germany and Portugal under serious risk. Their detailed statements on the present situation of the democratisation movement in Indonesia and the restricted circumstances of their work were very interesting.

Rachland Nashidik, chairman of the Centre for Information and Action Network for a Democratic Reform (PIJAR), spoke in the name of the Indonesian delegation, which was also represented by Saleh Abdullah of the Indonesian Front for the Protection of Human Right (INFIGHT), Agus Edi Santoso of the Centre for Information and Education for Human Rights (PIPHAM), Raziku Amin of the Foundation for Human Rights (LEKHAT), and George Aditjondro, Professor at Satya Wacana Univeristy, Salatiga. The latter emphasised that in these days, for the first time since the Indonesian Invasion in East Timor in 1975, negotiations between Ali Alatas, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and representatives of the East Timoresese resistance took place. Although these are only very small steps, still it is a very important one. Mr Nashidik also hinted at the development in Northern Ireland as an encouraging comparison and expressed his hope that the negotiations between representatives of Indonesia and East Timor will head toward the same direction. The right to self-determination of the East Timorese people is directly linked to democratic development in Indonesia (and vice versa), emphasised Mr Nashdik. Because of this, East Timor has a main part in the political programme of the democratisation movement in Indonesia. By reports from our Indonesian friends, the participants of the conferences got an insight into the work of Indoesian NGO’s and the difficulties and problems they have to face. By the intended disclosure of their financial means, the NGO’s are threatened to cease working. Salleh Abdullah ended his report with a quotation of our Philippine friend Renato Constantino Junior: “It is about time to stop this war.”

A very profound insight into the effects of the Indonesian invasion and the occupation of East Timor was delivered by Professor George Aditjondro of Satya Wacana University in Salatiga/Central Java. In Porto, Professor Aditjontro held a lecture on the subject at the University and gave further information. Besides the social, economical and political changes, that came along with the occupation, Aditjondro dealt with the ecological effects of the occupation in particular. Those who want to have more information on this subject, should read Aditjondro’s latest book, “In the Shadow of Mount Ramelau”, published by INDOC, Leiden/The Netherlands. Additional lectures at other universities could not be staged, because Professor Aditjondro was urged by the local police station of his residence to immediately return to Indonesia and to report to the police. Meanwhile, it was reported that Professor Aditjondro was questioned several times by the police; beyond that, no other repressions by the Indonesian military regime were reported.

The initiator of both conferences in Portugal and Germany, Professor Antonio Barbedo de Magalhaes, once again emphasised the courage of our Indonesian friends who declared that after their return, they will continue their work for a democratisation of the Indonesian society.It is to be hoped that after their return, they are not confronted with repressions and that they can continue their work successfully. The family of Mulyana Kusumah, an NGO-representative, who intended to participate at both conferences, was terrorised by Indonesian officials in the approaches. Mulyana Kusumah was then arrested before his departure. The incidences of Mulyana Kusumagh and George Aditjondro reflect impressively the dangers of active human rights work in Indonesia.

Finally, reports on the solidarity for East Timor from all parts of the world were given at both conferences. The possible coordination of activities in general and for 1995, in particular, when Indonesia wants to celebrate two jubilees – the 50th anniversary of Indonesia and thirty years of Suharto-governemt – were discussed. Our task will be to make public the third jubilee which Indonesia would rather conceal: 20 years of genocide in East Timor!

East Timor Group founded

by Claus Roehl, Schrozberg, Germany

On the margin of the East Timor conference in Iserlohn, German East Timor activists assembled and founded an East Timor Solidarity Group. It is a work group of the Berlin human rights organisation Watch Indonesia! and will exclusivlely work on East Timor. Public relations as well as the intensification of contacts to other East Timor group are the main focus. Because of the three forthcoming jubilees, the Hannover Fair will give occasion for different activities. Indonesia is nominated “partner country” of the fair. The Hannover Fair is Germany’s biggest industry fair. For this reason, high ranking officials are expected to come to Hannover. Indonesia will expose its technological development and and its culture, and it will withhold its massive and permanent human rights abuses, or rather deny them. In cooperation with other German human rights organisations, we will point out these abuses in Hannover. Because of the 20th anniversary of the Indonesian invasion in East Timor in December 1995, and because of the forthcoming sentence of the International Court on the illegal exploitation of East Timorese oil resources by Indonesia and Australia, the year 1995 holds several concrete occassions for activities.

Mr Kinkel, Human Rights and the Freedom of Expression

by Claus Roehl, Schrozberg, Germany

At the Conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU and ASEAN countries in Karlsruhe Germany (23.9.1994), a memorial vigil was authorized to take place under the arches of the city’s church, but was overshadowed by the brutal and over-zealous actions of the police. The vigil, which was originally authorized by the City of Karlsruhe, was surprinsingly banned just before the beginning. The texts of the banners – “Indonesia – 19 Years of Genocide in East Timor”, “200.000 Dead in East Timor – why does Germany Export Weapons to East Timor” and “Ministers of Europe: Stop the Occupation of East Timor” – had previously been discussed with the parish parson, and were also known to the police and the City of Karlsruhe.

On the very day of the vigil, all of a sudden, these texts were supposed to be offensive. The withdrawal of the authorization was notified to us only some minutes before the scheduled start. Although access to the city’s marketplace was possible after a body search by the police, the bringing of banners and leaflets was forbidden. The behaviour of the police stood in no relation to the situation on the marketplace. One of the participants had the film of her camera snatched away. One effort to unfold a banner that was smuggled into the square, was answered by several policemen tearing it down.

The church, situated only 20 metres from the City Hall, where the Ministers of Foreign Affairs signed the distinguished visitors’ book, would have been the ideal place for a vigil, because the present ministers, visitors and in particular the reporters, could hardly have ignored us. Meanwhile, it became clear that the reaction of the city and the police was an immediate response to the urging of the German Minster for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kinkel, who was afraid that the vigil might cause some unrest with his collegues. Furthermore, he was probably afraid of bad news on this, supposedly model meeting. With a successful large event in a rather provincial city like Karlsruhe (electoral district of Kinkel for the federal elections in the same year), some further votes might be won! Kinkel himself had already weeks before stated that they would not talk about human rights.

This highly undemocratic procedure and repressive behaviour against citizens, who on their turn, would like to show their criticism on repression in other countries, is to be clearly condemned. Those who witnessed the actions in Karlsruhe, must ask themselves what is the state of freedom of expression in Germany?! The human rights activists Renato Constantino Junior, Philippines, and José Amorin Dias, East Timor, were openly disappointed by the procedure of the German officials. They would never had expected such measure in a democratic country like Germany – greetings to Kinkel! <>

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