Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) was among those organisations campaigning in support of a free East Timor. ASIET called and chaired the 40,000-strong demonstration on September 11, 1999 in Sydney demanding Australian and UN armed intervention in defence of the East Timorese people against the rampaging Indonesian army-backed militias.
ASIET, and all other true friends of East Timor, will not stand by now and allow the Australian government, still greedy for blood money, pressure the East Timorese for royalties on oil and gas deposits from their own territorial waters. That is what is happening now.
While Indonesia occupied East Timor, everybody's attention was focussed on the fact that Australia and Indonesia were illegally sharing in another people's resources. There was little discussion of the fact that Canberra had squeezed a concession out of Jakarta which gave Canberra a 50% share in royalties from oil and gas that were not even in Australian territorial waters!
Canberra pressured Jakarta into agreeing to setting up a Zone of Cooperation (ZOCA) which lay entirely on the East Timorese side of the median line - the half-way point between East Timor and Australia. In fact, the southern boundary of this Zone of Cooperation represents what should be the median line according to international norms and laws.
Most of the known deposits of oil and gas have been discovered in the ZOCA, including the largest gas deposit of Bayu Undan. Some estimates put the royalties and taxes from this reserve at around $5 billion over a 20 year period.
East Timor has won the right to political independence. This means it has also won the right to full sovereignty over all its natural resources, including all oil and gas on its side of the median line border between East Timor and Australia.
Australia has no rights to any royalties or any say on what happens in the Zone of Cooperation. If the East Timorese decide they do wish to continue a ZOCA arrangement for technical or other reasons, Australia should receive no royalties from this - the debt to East Timor is already too great. If the East Timorese want to abandon a ZOCA agreement altogether, and make arrangements with other institutions or countries to help develop their resources, they have an absolute right to do so.
ASIET will stand beside the East Timorese in any struggle to achieve absolute sovereignty over their resources, including a struggle against the Australian government.
The Howard government likes to boast that it has spent millions on the Australian military operations in East Timor. But Australian military intervention in East Timor was only necessary because of the 25 years of unqualified support for Suharto's invasion and occupation of East Timor.
Had the government refused to give military, political and diplomatic support to Suharto and taken a principled stand to support the right of self-determination, it could have helped end the suffering of the East Timorese people years ago. Such a policy could have been easily explained to the Indonesian people through Radio Australia and other means. But oil money proved more important than the lives of East Timorese.
Now the Australian government is again putting profits ahead of people. ASIET says this should stop and demands the government:
Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET)
ASIET demands the Howard government:
Return to ASIET: PO Box 458 Broadway 2007
Ph 9690 1230
Fax 9690 1381
Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor
ASIET is a DSP-inspired Australian solidarity organisation which aims to educate and inform the Australian community about the continuing fight for democracy in Indonesia and the East Timorese people's struggle to rebuild their country. ASIET also supports the struggles for self-determination in Aceh and West Papua. ASIET aims to place maximum pressure on governments to adopt a pro-people foreign policy by organising activities including marches and protests, national petition campaigns, film showings, public meetings ...
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Homepage: http://www.asiet.org.au
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