Hands off East Timor!

East Timor Solidarity Committee Auckland

Once again Australia and New Zealand are organising a major military intervention in East Timor. Australia will send up to 1,300 troops, and a smaller number of Kiwi troops at Burnham base near Christchurch are preparing to join them.

The new intervention is being planned because the East Timorese government faces a popular rebellion which it has struggled to suppress on its own. In February nearly half of the East Timorese army went on strike to protest at poor pay and conditions and the brutality of military commanders and the East Timorese police force. On April the 28th the rebel soldiers staged a peaceful march on the East Timor capital Dili, where they were joined by four thousand civilians at a protest rally. On the orders of Prime Minister Alkatiri, the police opened fire on the protesters and killed at least five of them. Since April the 28th the police have been hunting down rebel soldiers and their supporters. Reports suggest that scores of these opponents of the Alkatiri regime have been killed.

Australia and New Zealand want to prop up the government of Alkatiri and his Fretilin party. They want Alkatiri to stay in power because he protects Australasian business interests in East Timor. In recent years a series of one-sided deals with Fretilin's corrupt leaders have given Australia control of the oil and gas reserves under the Timor Strait. Aussie companies earn billions a year from these resources, but East Timor receives only a pittance in royalties and its people remain very poor.

Plans for an intervention in East Timor are supported by the United States. John Howard is George Bush's most loyal ally in the Asia Pacific region, and Australia has been pushing Bush's policies aggressively in this part of the world. Howard has already organised a military intervention in the Solomon Islands, and deployed Aussie cops across Papua New Guinea. Like Bush, Howard believes in using the military to impose extreme right-wing policies on Third World countries.

The vast majority of New Zealand workers oppose the war Bush and Howard are waging in Iraq. The Council of Trade Unions voted to oppose any Kiwi involvement in the military intervention in Iraq. We should oppose the same sort of intervention in our part of the world. If it's wrong in Iraq, it's wrong in East Timor!

The people who need our solidarity are not Alkatiri and Howard but the workers and peasants of East Timor, who are waging a just struggle against a brutal government and its supporters in Canberra, Wellington, and Washington.




For some background to the crisis in East Timor, see this article: https://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2006/05/east-timor-on-brink-of-civil-war-whos.html 

The view from Green Left Weekly




May 2006

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