BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      homeApril news


NO 1/2001. (APRIL’01).

AETA is a voluntary organisation without party affiliation.

Convenor/Dr. Andy McNaughtan (02 9960-5550),
Secretary/Stephen Langford (02 9331-5986),
Treasurer Brenden Doyle (email:,
Warehouse/ Ian Hodges (02 9523-3764)
Ex Officio/Alix Mandelson (02 9331-1496),
Special Projects/Jeff Lee (02 9500-1638).
Newsletter correspondence should be addressed to the editor, Newsletter c/-PO Box 703 Leichhardt, 2040.  or email:
AETA’s postal address:  c/-Secretary PO Box 751, Darlinghurst 2010. (Please include email address).


This is the first newsletter for AETA for 2001. AETA (NSW) had a very successful year in 2000.  Many of our activities were reviewed in our last newsletter (December 2000). Our activity has been concentrated in a few key areas. Firstly, building community support for the ongoing reconstruction of East Timor. Secondly lobbying for justice for East Timorese both here in Australia and in the international arena. Thirdly supporting other groups such as AWPA (West Papua) and the AAA (Aceh) and the Indonesian democracy movement who are increasingly facing head on the brutality of the remaining elements of  the same Suharto’s corrupt military regime that terrorised the East Timorese population for 25 years.
(AETA decides its priorities in the above areas at our monthly meetings
- 4th Wednesday’s of the month at Level 3, UTS Tower Blding, Broadway, details from Stephen Langford 9331-5986).

Events in East Timor itself will become a focus for the rest of 2001 as the slowness of the UNTAET stewardship moves into the uncertainty of the unfolding Timorese attempts of building a truly open and democratic political structure. The ongoing security threat posed by the Indonesian-controlled “militia”, the camps in West Timor, the failure to find justice for those who were victims of war crimes are problems that have to measured against the desire for national reconciliation and the immediate demands of reconstruction and survival.

In Australia we have the luxury of distance to scream the appropriate slogans from the margins - in an Australian election year! Lethargy, burn out and reorganisation of priorities cannot be used as excuses that allow Downer and Co. off the hook. The ‘arc of instability’ is growing. The benefit for Peace Brigades International (PBI) to help fund a mission to Aceh (April 11th) is a chance to consolidate. So too the M1 protest (May 1st) needs to ram home how the impact of ADB/World Bank/WTO neo-liberalist demands are impoverishing the region and causing social disintegration in places like PNG, East Timor and elsewhere.

Canberra’s decision to deny Max Stahl a visa to transit through Darwin to Dili to finish a fothcoming documentary as the August 30th election approaches will haunt them. So will the treatment of  asylum seekers imprisoned in various gulags in the Australian outback. The refugee issue is like Kundera’s ‘struggle against forgetting’. The launch of the John Martinkus book and the work of pre-Interfet photojournalists in the foyer of State Parliament (July 2001) will be a reminder of what has become history - a genocide -narrowly, but only partially, averted?

(from Jefferson 6.4.01).


-MAUREEN TOLFREE VISIT The sister of one of the ‘Balibo Five’ (Channel Nine cameraman Brian Peters) arrived in Sydney in October to speak at a press conference marking the 25th anniversary of her brother’s murder.  It was her first visit since Decmber 1975 when she was lied to in Canberra and then threatened by Indonesian agents when she went to Jakarta in search of her brother whereabouts (or his remains) .

During her two month stay Maureen spoke at the book launch (with Xanana), addressed the 25th Anniversary dinner of AETA’s Melbourne Branch, established links with all the relatives of the ‘Balibo Five’, (Shirley Shackleton, The Stewart family and many others), to forge a united demand for the exumation of the so-called burial site in Jakarta. She went to Dili and Balibo in East Timor to follow up on the progress of the War Crimes investigation into the ‘Balibo Five’. She launched a Coroner’s Inquest in NSW  (with the assistance of solicitor Rodney Lewis from the ICJ) concerning the whereabouts of her missing brother - a resident of NSW when he disappeared. She addressed an AETA dinner in her honour at the Dali Restaurant in Glebe in December before returning to her home in Bristol, U.K. Maureen had many deeply moving stories to tell about her activism in the UK from her first contacts with John Pilger, her appearance as a witness for the ‘Ploughshares Women’ court case, intimidation by Bakin agents during pickets of the Indonesian Consulates, her appearance at the UN Decolonisation Committee Hearings in New York, etc.

THE EAST TIMOR OLYMPIC TEAM demonstrated the depth of feeling among the Australian community. It is a pity our big spenders (remember Michael Knight?) could not find the resources to feed and house, or even offer a single viewing ticket to the ‘reserve team’ who flew into Sydney with the four competitors. Well done to Kim Gago who organised emergency assistance while the Olympic fat cats ignored their responsiblities.  Well done to the competitors for their historic efforts. Well done to the Timor Australia Council (Philomena and friends) who went out of their way to organise a terrific community reception at the Cabramatta Community Centre and to Bill Buckley and Uni of NSW for the initial leg work to organise the team coming to Australia. The appalling arrival situation for the para-olympic team was highlighted in the media when their Commonwealth Police escort had to buy them a spare set of clothing again highlighted the lack of diplomacy and decency from the upper echelons of the Olympic bureaucracy. They also (along with the Cambodian land mine victims) received a lot of sympathy from the Australian public.

THE XANANA GUSMAO VISIT in November was organised by Professor Stuart Rees and the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies at Sydney University to present him with the Sydney Peace Foundation prize. At the same time Xanana launched the Lansell Taudevin & Jefferson Lee edited book EAST TIMOR MAKING AMENDS? (published by Otford Press on behalf of AETA-NSW).  Kirsty Sword spoke at State Parliament Amnesty Group on the issue of women raped and tortured in war. An excellent two page article appeared in <italic>The Australian</italic> from Sian Powell following her address. AETA organised a photo display in the Seymour Centre to coincide with Xanana’s lecture. Many thanks to the venue and photographers like H.T.Lee and Stephen Tickner, who came  down from Newcastle.

THE ANIN MURAK CHOIR VISIT went off brilliantly thanks to the months of preparation by Sister Susan Connelly and the Mary McKillop Institute of East Timor Studies (9623-2849) who are the distributors of their wonderful CD with cover lyric sheets in both english and tetum. The tour received a Mayoral Reception from Frank Sartor followed by a month long tour of regional NSW which included positive articles in the local press and raptuous crowds from Lismore, to Maitland, to Coffs Harbour, to Bathhurst, to Dunedoo, to Kangaroo Valley, to the Governor General’s House in Canberra, to mention just a few locations, with the finale in the Sydney Town Hall. The poster display from the Design School students at the University of Western Sydney was superb thanks to the hard work of Media Lecturer Peter McGregor (9678-7356) and the students. Two of the students have been sponsored by the Kangaroo Valley group to come here for further studies. Other offers are pending.

-WAREHOUSE SITUATION We (Timor Appeal Committee & AETA) now have a storage depot at 17 Lord St, St Peters, thanks to Friends of the Earth and other tenants. It is open to recieve targeted donations on Saturdays 12-2pm or by appointment. However please call Ian Hodges (9523-3764) or Alix Mandelson (9331-1496) before delivering anything.  The building has been sold but we believe it will be possible to use space there for some months. We also have use of a larger storage space in Robert St. White Bay, but this is subject to commercial security restrictions so we can only unload there with prior approval. We are using it to store a large donation of school furniture from Knox Grammar School in Sydney. (This includes 390 school desks, teacher desks, 250 chairs and other equipment, intended for Bebonuk Public School at Comoro, West Dili). We are seeking transport assistance to get this where it is needed from Australian Navy and some commercial firms. Any leads or suggestions on transport welcome.


- Amnesty Parliamentarians Public Meeting on Aceh (State Parliament House Auditorium) 7/3/2001 . Speakers included Eileen
Pittaway (Centre for Refugee Research,UNSW) on”Women in Aceh”, Ed Aspinall (UNSW) on “Political Reform in Indonesia”, Robert Cavanagh (Law,Newcastle Uni.) “War Criminals & Ending Impunity”, details email:
- Amnesty/Media Alliance Meeting on Reporting Asia (ASX Auditorium) 14/3/2001. Speakers included Louise Williams (SMH) Michael Maher (ABC,Bulletin), journalists from The Nation (Thailand), Gerald Stone (Ch 9,Bulletin). Details Media Alliance (MEAA).
- Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) Meeting (PNG Art Gallery) Dymocks Blding Sydney, Tuesday 27 March 2001. Speakers included ICJ, Rex from (AWPA) copies of paper presented available from AWPA (Syd) PO Box 65, Millers Pt., Sydney 2000, ph 9960-1698, email:
- Asiet Dinner/Seminar on ACEH @ Glebe Town Hall, March 2001. with Ed Aspinal (UNSW) Max Lane and Acehese speaker. Report appeared in Green Left Weekly. Check also Asiet website for a report:

Institute for Post-Colonial Studies Seminar  “The Problem of International Involvement in the Formation of East Timor,” 78-80 Curzon St., Nth Melbourne, (4/4/01). Speakers were Helen Hill (VUT), Dr John Hajek (Uni. of Melb.), Dr Balthasar Kehi (Yarra Theological Union). Details from Dr. Julie Stephens, email:


Hello there, I would appreciate a note in the AETA newsletter regarding my need for a contact to send things through in Suai. I was fortunate to be invited to spend two weeks in E Timor last October, I spent most of my time at Suai, staying at the Timor Aid office at Kamenassa. The children stole my heart and I’d have to say my most lasting impression is of Timor as “the land of  smiles”. I met so many incredible people, locals, nuns, workers, soldiers and volunteers, it was overwhelming.  The resilience and exhilaration of  the Timorese people is a continuing inspiration to me and I feel privileged to have been to see the reality for myself. I was constantly amazed at the geographical and cultural diversity and natural beauty the tiny island contains. Here on the sunny far south coast  of NSW I collect and send stuff that is hard to get over there and also things the children ask for (caps, pens, paper mostly), I’d like to send more but it’s hard to get stuff in at present. I have a young pen friend and I like to send things to help her with her education because she is very ambitious. My current contact in Suai, Angus Cooper, is leaving at the end of April so if anyone knows some way I can get stuff into Suai please let me know.Thanks to Angus, Bec, Russell, Brian & Rick as well as all the locals, for making my stay an unforgettable experience, I can’t wait to get back there. Wendy Hardman - Solicitor (5/4/01)



The East Timor Self Help Project.

(Jalan Korpi, Akadiru Hun, East Dili, ph : Trisha 0407-790151 or Nick 0407-364974, fax 0015-670 390 312141 -Email
A four page overview (of year 2000) of the wide range of activity of this NGO is available from AETA on request. It includes the delivery of 6 trailer loads of equipment from the old Canberra Hospital, and X-Ray machine from the Australian Institute of Radiography in Melbourne (sent to Motael Clinic, note TB is rampant in Timor!). Rotarians in Victoria are sending a team to build a new orphanage in Maubara for the Carmelite Sisters with ETSHP raising $12,500 towards the cost of the building. Donations please! A forklift and truck are urgently needed for the wide range of other aid distributions going on as with the downsizing of the army expected they can no longer rely on “favours”.  e.g. it took 3 months to find a transporter (Wee Poh Co. of Singapore) of a water tank to Maubara orphanage. The Comoro project -sewing classes, computers & English classroom was finished with help from Rotary. The FAIM team helped out with the roof leaks. Now 250-300 students a week. Two Australian nuns are taking a second English class nearby with students sitting on the floor with no pens, blackboards or books until a donation from St George Girls School in Kogarah arrived.  ETSHP had 35 volunteers work with them in Year 2000! Well done!
(contact details above anyone!).

This year (Year 2001) a major agriculture project is underway with seeds donated by Rotary Victoria and planting technique help from Thailand. The Canossian Convent in Baucau needs electricals, plumbing, hot water generator, etc. The girls have to cart buckets of cold water upstairs for the “bathroom”, washing etc.. Also in Baucau the Doncaster Rotary have helped establish a rolling steel mill providing 300 jobs.  Donations of steel coil are needed. Cottage industry stuff- sewing and embroidery co-ops (tias making), soap, furniture, etc are being set up to market to the tourist/NGO community and eventually export to Australia. Donations of cotton, wax, palm/coconut oil machines, carpentry, wood sculpting tools and sewing machines are all needed. (we can purchase a lot of these in Dili if people send money!) An update was received from Alix here in Sydney (April 2001) saying ETSHP are now distributing a container of goods sent from Sydney in March which included 100 boxes of sewing material for OPMT, a Timorese women’s organisation, and items from the now closed Marrickville warehouse for the Hadomi Foundation Orphanage. ETSHP is requesting 20 to 30 pairs of magnifying spectacles, available from chemists or K-Mart (for women weavers) and a portable blood pressure guage for Fatumaca village clinic for use on house calls. [DONATIONS TO THE ETSHP CAN BE MADE DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AETA - CONTACT ALIX MANDELSON (02) 9331-1496. The next issue of the newsletter will carry a report on FUTO - Foti Ulun Timor Oan (For the Children of Timor)]

AETA MEETINGS : List of Guest Speakers for 2001.

Note all AETA Meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6.30pm in the meeting room behind UTS Students Association, level 3 Tower Building Broadway. Enq.’s, Stephen 9331-5986).
January Meeting - Dr Andrew McNaughtan ( spoke on the Timor Gap Treaty re-negotiatons.
February Meeting - James Arvanitakis ( from Aidwatch on Aidwatch’s forthcoming project for auditing of aid delivery to East Timor.
March Meeting - Charles Lennox from Oz Greens, back from Oecussi, on Water Restoration Project.
April Meeting - Wednesday 25th April (Anzac Day) Speakers will include Clare Bennett (freelance /Sky Channel journalist), Aires Almeida (FUTO) and hopefully George Wells (from Timor Aid).

MEDIA WATCH on Important EAST TIMOR Commentary (Late 2000-April2001)
- George Aditjondro articles in Arena (Melb) December 1999-Jan/Feb 2000 is followed up by his interview “East Timor becoming guests in their own land”, Jakarta Post, (2/2/01) Aditjondro lifts the lid on Australian carpet-baggers, UNTAET bureaucrats and CNRT inaction with  great controversy.
- Paul Monk in November 2000 Quadrant. In an article ostensibly reviewing the Death in Balibo book this former Dept of Defence employee turned academic tracks down some of his old workmates to argue there may be insufficient evidence to conclude some of the crucial (but now missing ) October 1975 intelligence intercepts on Indonesian orders to kill the Balibo journalists actually existed in the first place. A half-hearted snow job Paul! Blind Freddy can see and smell “cover up”. Follow up revisionist letters appeared in January and March  2001 editions of Quadrant (thnaks Paddy).
- Greg Sheridan’s review of  DOCUMENTS ON AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN POLICY: Australia & the Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor 1974-1976, DFAT/MUP, 2000, in The Australian newspaper’s (Monthly) Review of Books, December 2000.  Sheridan takes two pages to slag off at the solidarity movement (“the East Timor industry”) and distort the historical record in his typical revisionist style. Luke Slattery (editorARB) fails to print letters sent in by Jenny Hereira (Hobart East Timor Committee), Stephen Langford (AETA), Jefferson Lee (AETA), etc. in the February 2001 edition.
- Lindsay Murdoch,”Officials deterred from sending children home”, (SMH, Sat. 17/3/01,p.15) Story on how children taken from families in West Timor camps were dumped in orphanages in Jakarta and now Hati Foundation (with links to Jakarta government) and Abilio Soares (nephew of former Jakarta-appointed Governor of ET and now secretary of  the Foundation) is blocking the family reunions through the UNHCR. According to Murdoch’s article Soares “continues to refer to East Timor within the framework of “Indonesian unity”. “
- Hugh Rimmington’s coverage of new Defence Minister Peter Reith’s visit to Australian peacekeepers in Maliana (in the wake of John Moore resignation) was featured on Channel  9 News.
- Brian Walker, Head of the International Rescue C’tee (IRC)  in Dili sent a letter to Pacific News Bulletin critical of UNTAET performance. It was reprinted in the Febuary 2001 edition of PNB,
-ABC-TV Foreign Correspondent special report on President Wahid’s Global Diplomacy was commented on in critical terms
by George Aditjondro at the Asiet Meeting (Friday 5/4/01).

- Paul Daley “Gareth’s crisis management”, SMH/insight/ Friday 9/3/01, p.11 Gareth states “The truth of the matter is that...we[the Hawke-Keating Govts] did as much as we possibly could to advance the East Timorese cause within the environment as we found it with the cards that we had....The notion that we, you know, had anything to answer for morally or otherwise over the way we handled the Indonesia-East Timor relationship, I absolutely reject..” Evans went on to outline the possible future use of mercenaries in IPKF’s as a rapid deployment option given the reluctance of Western Govts to commit their troops to Rwanda/Bosnia style situations. He advocated the ‘Gurkha’ rather than the ‘Sandline’ model of mercenaries. A critical letter to the editor pointed out the real Evans ET legacy.
-Mike Carlton column (SMH 24/3/01,p.26).....on Canberra’s slowness on Civpol tax exemptions for their ET service.  Carlton reported that Canberra still hasn’t honoured its pledge to give Civ Pol ‘back pay’ for taxing them on their income while they were in East Timor when all other salaries for the Australian armed services were tax exempt.
- SBS-TV Insight Program (Thurs 29/3/01) on Tax Exemption for Churches , Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists,etc. Local family farmers in Northern Victoria are complaining that the Mormon Church is not taxed on its huge agricultural agri-business in the  NSW Griffith area. The church argues it sets aside a large percentage of its profits for charity and religious work for example their project in the West Timor camp last year was worth $500,000 and they have other projects in East Timor.
-April 2001. Media coverage of the Xanana Gusmao resignation from National Congress (29/3/01). Xanana was quoted (out of context and in edited form) on various television news reports as referring to the rest of the leadership as “rubbish”  which  appears to misrepresented his argument.


- Wednesday 11th April  6pm Asia Australia Institute meeting at State Library, Mitchell Gallery on Future of Indonesian Democracy with George Aditjondro, etc.  details
- Wednesday 11th April  8pm SOUL-IDARITY Nite @ Harbourside Brasserie for Peace Brigades International (PBI) with Epizo Bangoura, Geng-gong, Solidarity Choir and Natalie Oliver, $15/$10 concession, tix at door.  details Mary Larkin (0403) 943656 or email:
- Canberra @ Easter: International Greens Conference and National Folk Festival. Help needed with stalls. details Jeff Lee 0425-201638/9500-1638.
-Friday 20th April, 4.45pm Panel on “Running Radio Fretilin in Darwin 1975-76” with Brian Manning & Chris Elenor @ 7th National Labour History Conference, ANU Copeland Bdg, Rm G030 or G031.
- Friday 20th April, 8pm Bush Dance Petersham Town Hall, Sydney with Skewiff $15/$12 concession, Greens benefit (help at AETA stall needed) ring Jeff  on 0425-201638.
- Sat. 21st, 1pm, Aceh Picket at Indonesian Consulate, Maroubra Road, Maroubra details Aust Aceh Assoc 9972-0382 or ASIET 9690-1230. (Note also Asiet Mtg in Nike with Indonesian speaker2/5/01).
- Friday 27th April, 8.30am. Picket of Rio Tinto AGM, Darling Harbour Convention Centre. Details Vikki Johns from the Bougainville Freedom Movement 95582730.

Sunday 29th April , 11am-1pm, Opera House forecourt. Shareholders Rally to Defend “YOUR ABC”.
- Tues. May 1st. M1 Blockade of the Stock Exchanges around the world.
Let’s raise the regional issues!
- June 7-10th, Jakarta, Indonesia,  Asia-Pacific People’s Solidarity
Conference. Details Asiet 9690-1977 or
- August 30th  2001, East Timor’s historic  national elections date.

Some  Publications and CD’s on East Timor available through AETA (NSW).

(Please send cheques marked TIMOR SPECIAL PROJECTS to PO Box 703 Leichhardt, 2040. Prices include postage. Enquiries: .
For a complete list of resources available and bulk orders for solidarity groups contact AETA (Melbourne) email:
[Or See: Current AETA Resource List (Australia-East Timor Association):  - BD]
- L. Taudevin & Jefferson Lee (eds), EAST TIMOR MAKING AMENDS? Analysing Australia’s role in reconstructing East Timor, Otford Press, (on behalf of AETA), NSW, 2000. (253pp/photos.......$27)
- R.Tiffen, DIPLOMATIC DECEITS, Government, Media & East Timor, UNSW Press, April 2001 (($25).
- L.Taudevin, EAST TIMOR: Too Little Too Late, Duffy &Snellgrove, Syd., 1999. (319pp./photos....$25)
- G. Hull, TETUM Language Manual for East Timor, Academy of East Timor Studies, University of Western Sydney, Dec 2000, (4th edition). (126pp.....$20 ).
- G. Hull, Short ENGLISH-TETUM Dictionary, Acad. E. Timor  Studies, U.W.S, 2000, (97pp....$20)
- D. Ball & H. McDonald, DEATH IN BALIBO, LIES IN CANBERRA: Blood on Whose Hands?, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2000, (199pp/photos......$25)
- B. Breen, Mission Accomplished, East Timor : The Australian Defence Force Participation in the International Forces East Timor (INTERFET), Allen &Unwin, Sydney, 2001, (HB/226pp./photos....$40)

Music CD’s/Cassettes
- TEBE Dance of Life CD, from Timor Assoc of Victoria, released in late 2000 (15 tracks.....$30).
- ANIN MURAK Songs of Timor Loro Sa’e CD, Anin Murak Choir  from Dili , 2000 (19 tracks.....$23).
- Remember East Timor CD, Mary McKillop Singers from Sydney (8tracks.....$20)
- ALL IN THE FAMILY CD, Rock compilation 1994 ($20)
- LOVE FROM A SHORT DISTANCE CD, Rock compilation 1996 ($20).
- LIBERDADE CD, Rock Compilation, 1999, ($25)
-Dili All Stars CD/Cassette, 6 track Rock/Reggee compilation  ($12)
- SOLIDARITY CHOIR. CD release April 2001 includes the track “Four Strong Women”....($25)
- Enda Kenny, Bakers Dozen CD, includes track “from Darwin to Dili “ ($25)

(This newsletter is compiled by Jefferson Lee, AETA (NSW) Special Projects Officer, 1998-2001).

The Australia East Timor Association (AETA)  Updated Apr 26
The Australia East Timor Association was the first and longest serving solidarity organisation for East Timor in Australia.
The Melbourne Branch is 25 years old. The Melbourne Branch has an extensive book list via mail order. Contact Melbourne thru John Sinnott email:
The Sydney Branch was formed in 1992. The Sydney Branch brings out a Newsletter which includes NGO Report Backs, Coming Events And Media Digest. Contact Sydney thru email  The Sydney Branch meets the 4th Wed of the month at UTS Tower Building, 3rd floor. Details Stephen Langford (02) 9331-5986.
April 2001 AETA (NSW) Newsletter:
Current AETA Resource List (Australia-East Timor Association):

See Also:
Current AETA Resource List (Australia-East Timor Association)  Resources on ETimor added Apr 26
AETA (Melbourne) provide a community-based non-profit service that includes the provision of books, educational materials and music CDs/cassettes. This diverse collection of resources includes materials that are otherwise difficult to obtain. - BD

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