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BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor

Timor Oil - Voices in Solidarity
Aktivador hakerek ho laran metin kona ba Timor nia Mina
Minyak di Timor: Solidaritas
O Petróleo de Timor: Solidariedade 

Comments in solidarity with East Timor's just claim to oil and gas rights in the Timor Sea.
Priority is given to those writers who are being denied publication in the "mainstream" corporate-dominated or government-controlled media

Up-Dated: 9 Oct 2005
Return to Main Contents: BD: The 2004 TIMOR OIL Collection
NEW = Added to
BACK DOOR Website within the past month

6 Okt 2005 LH: Bantuan Australia seharusnya mendukung Timor-Leste
La’o Hamutuk mengutuk keputusan yang baru saja diambil oleh pemerintah Australia untuk mencabut komitmen AusAid membantu organisasi non pemerintah (LSM) Timor-Leste, karena organisasi non pemerintah Forum Tau Matan (FTM) mengekspresikan ketidaksetujuan mereka terhadap pandangan-pandangan politik Australia. ... Pada akhir bulan Juli, Counselor AusAID menginformasikan FTM bahwa alasan yang sebenarnya pembatalan dana adalah FTM telah menandatangani siaran pers yang berjudul ‘’Masyarakat Sipil Timor-Leste Menuntut Penyelesaian yang Adil atas Batas Laut.’’ " La’o Hamutuk, Institut Pemantau dan Analisis Rekonstruksi Timor Lorosa’e

6 Oct 2005 LH: Australian Aid should support Timor-Leste, not Australia’s political interests
Media Release added 9 Oct 2005
"La’o Hamutuk condemned the recent decision by the Australian government to revoke an AusAID commitment to a Timor-Leste non-governmental organization (NGO), because the NGO, Forum Tau Matan (FTM), expressed political views Australia disagrees with. ... At the end of July, AusAID’s Counsellor (Development Cooperation) informed FTM that the real reason the grant was cancelled was that FTM had signed the press release “East Timor Civil Society demands a Fair Resolution of Maritime Boundaries.” " La’o Hamutuk, East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

28 July 2005 Timor Sea Justice Campaign: Briefing Paper on Greater Sunrise
Briefing paper added 28 July 2005
This paper has been prepared for the [Australian] opposition parties and East Timor solidarity and activist groups to encourage informed responses to the signing of a temporary resource sharing agreement between Australia and East Timor covering the Greater Sunrise gas field.

23 April 2005 ACTU: Unions urge fair go for Timorese in Talks
Media Release added 23 Apr 2005

" Supporting the economic development of East Timor should be a priority for the Australian Government. With an annual budget of just $100 million East Timor is very poor. ... Both Australian and East Timorese trade unionists are keen to guarantee that East Timor also benefits from its fair share of downstream development. ... The ACTU also wants to see more emphasis placed on East Timorese employment on the rigs and platforms in the Timor Sea. " ACTU President Sharan Burrow

22 April 2005 APHEDA: Justice for East Timor in Oil & Gas Negotiations
Statement of support added 23 Apr 2005
"Union Aid Abroad supports the Timor Sea Justice Campaign in demanding that Australia:
* Stop unilaterally exploiting contested gas and oil resources in the Timor Sea.
* Place disputed revenues taken by the Australian Government into a trust fund to be distributed accordingly once a permanent agreement has been reached.
* Immediately negotiate in good faith a permanent maritime boundary in accordance with current International Law.
* Re-recognize the authority of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to settle the dispute by independent arbitration if necessary." Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA

14 Apr 2005 TSJC News: Talks Set for 26th of April
Newsletter added 14 Apr 05
"The next round of maritime boundary negotiations between the Australian and East Timorese Governments, have been scheduled to take place in Dili on the 26th, 27th and 28th of April. The talks are expected to focus on details of the proposed ‘creative solution’ in which the Australian Government has reportedly offered $3-4 billion in return for East Timor postponing its claims of sovereignty for up to 100 years. A protest will be held by the Timor Sea Justice Campaign outside of Melbourne’s DFAT offices at 2 Lonsdale St on Tuesday the 26th of April at 12 noon. Actions are also being planned in the other capital cities." Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne

26 Mar 2005 McKee: How much is Sunrise really worth?:
A revised potential revenue estimate for a disputed gas resource in the Timor Sea
Analysis added 11 Apr 05
"Geoff's analysis shows that, because crude oil prices have climbed dramatically since 2002, the potential government revenue arising from a Sunrise gas project is about four times higher than the figures used by the oil companies and others. Geoff’s conclusions are vital as they enable communities in East Timor, Australia and elsewhere to appraise the actual value of the Sunrise gas resource. Because Geoff clearly states his assumptions, these can be used by ordinary people to evaluate the fairness or otherwise of the Australian government’s offers to East Timor." Editor, Back Door Newsletter

March 2005 MMIETS: Eye Witness Accounts of Poverty & Hunger in East Timor
Accounts added 7 Apr 2005
"The whole of the Suai district is affected by hunger. Suai had rain very early so the people planted corn, but without further rain it has all died. Aileu had so much rain that the crops were washed away."
Tess Ward, Educator, MMIETS
"The desperate poverty situation, particularly of the children, was brought home to me when I saw a young boy about 8 years old climbing into putrid rubbish to retrieve some tins which he could sell. ... There are few paying jobs for the youth ... immediate, stop-gap measures are necessary to tide people over; [but] the causes of this poverty must be addressed." Joan Westblade, Health Worker, MMIETS

25 Mar 2005 TSJC: TV channels SBS and SEVEN Pull Timor Sea Ads

Press release added 31 Mar 2005
Channel 7 and SBS have announced that they will not be screening the latest television commercials about the Timor Sea dispute written and funded by Australian businessperson Ian Melrose. ... “What I want to know is, have the networks received any directives or suggestions from the Australian Government? What’s changed since the last ads were screened?” Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne

23 Mar 2005 TSJC: NEW TV claims Aus Gov is 'doing a Skase'
Press release added 31 Mar 2005
“The Australian Government is stealing billions of dollars from a country whose children are dying from preventable diseases. Stopping this money from going to the establishment of a working health system in East Timor has a direct and fatal impact on the lives of many East Timorese children.” Ian Melrose, author of TV ads re Timor Sea oil and gas dispute

20 Dec 2004 ACSJC: Catholic Council urges Come to the table on Timor Sea
Media release added 21 Dec 2004
"East Timor is among the poorest nations of the world. Half of the population of 900,000 is under the age of 14. Food security is poor and there is widespread malnutrition. ... The only resource available to East Timor to provide adequately for its growing population rests in the Timor Sea. ... The ACSJC urges the Australian Government to resume negotiations on Greater Sunrise that will allow fair terms to assist East Timor to be self sufficient and prosperous." Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC)

2 Dec 2004 James Dunn: Timor's Birth-pangs & Australia's Diminishing Generosity
Commentary added 2 Dec 2004
"If the Australian government is serious about its concern to help this new nation gain its deserved level of prosperity, then the answer lies in according the Timorese the kind of access to the Timor Gap resources that is theirs by right. It calls for the kind of caring and generosity that continues to be displayed by Australian state governments and, in particular, by individual groups throughout the country. In this way ordinary Australians are displaying the kind of compassion that has apparently dried up in our Federal Government." James Dunn, author of Timor: A People Betrayed

Timor Sea Talks between Timor Leste & Australia:
Canberra & Darwin (Sep/Oct 2004)
Complete compilation:

25 Sep 2004 MMIETS: Timor Sea Resources - Issues of Principle 
Paper added 28 Sep 2004

"Here is a paper I gave at Politics in the Pub on 17.09.04. With the Timor Sea talks underway between Australia and East Timor at the moment, it remains to be seen what outcome there will be.  I believe that regardless of what the East Timor Government accepts, there are issues of principle which Australians should require that our Government fulfil. 
These made up the terms of the recent petition:
1.  That a fair and equitable boundary be set.
2.  That Australia negotiates in good faith and in a timely fashion.
3.  That Australia returns to International arbitration.
4.  That Australia stops benefitting financially from areas under dispute.
(Please note that Australia has been receiving one million dollars a day from an area claimed by East Timor. This amounts to nearly 2 billion dollars, ten times the amount we have spent there in aid.) ...
Australian policy is that we benefit financially from areas which are under dispute, and that policy has brought us nearly $2 billion since 1999. In discussing consequences of this policy, it is both fair and proper to consider the effects of the distribution of wealth.  So whilst I argue that the ownership of the resources of the Timor Sea must be determined only on principles of accepted law and customary practice, I maintain that the dire need of the people of East Timor makes the application of justice a priority. East Timor has gained its political independence, but is not yet economically independent.  It is one of the poorest nations in Asia."
Sr. Susan Connelly, Spokesperson on oil issues,
Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies (MMIETS)

24 Sep 2004 IPS: Hopes Rise for New Oil Revenue Deal 
News summary added 28 Sep 2004

"This week's talks came after months of criticism by the European Union, United States and Australian parliamentarians and numerous community groups that the Australian government would unfairly hoard most of the oil and gas revenues. The July policy announcement by Labor Party leader, Mark Latham, committing Australia to renegotiate the sea boundary with East Timor - should the opposition get into power after Oct. 9 - prompted a furious reaction from the Australian government." Bob Burton
"Australia wants to get Sunrise ratified in the Timorese parliament by the start of next year but that is not going to happen except at the end of the resolution of the boundary issue from the Timorese point of view, ... So they are going to have to settle everything by then, which is really unlikely unless there is a really good offer on the table from Australia.'' Dan Nicholson, spokesman for the Timor Sea Justice Campaign

21 Sep 2004 TSJC: Timor Sea Negotiation Issues Sept 2004
Media release added 28 Sep 2004

"* Despite misleading DFAT statements, East Timor also has a priority to establish its own Maritime Boundaries, after a 24 year armed and diplomatic struggle to remove its illegal occupiers. No deal done on their Maritime Boundaries during those years can be accepted as binding today, and the struggle for national sovereignty is not over until the country establishes its national borders on land and sea. ...
* We are worried about a reported offer of an extra $3billion, and the report saying Mari Alkatiri forecasted that with a median line boundary they would get $12billion. These figures are far too low from both sides, as the initial estimates were made on the basis of oil prices of around US$20/barrel. ...

* A reexamination of the value of the Greater Sunrise project which contains nearly 2m BOE, suggests total revenue of at least US$70b in future years, and a "government take" of US$35billion and up
* Our view is that anything less than an East Timor share of 90% of "government take" will be unfair, given that under UNCLOS rules we expect East Timor owns 100% of the resource. This means East Timor must gain at least US$30b not just $3b.
Rob Wesley-Smith, Co-convenor, Timor Sea Justice Coalition - Darwin

19 Sep 2004 Greens: East Timor seabed boundary talks must deliver justice 
Media release added 20 Sep 2004

"The justice of East Timor's claim to alter the seabed boundary is reaching across the world, ... Just last week 37 European Union deputies appealed directly to Prime Minister Howard, calling for a 'rapid and just' solution that would guarantee East Timor's rights over its resources. Australia has no business depriving the poorest nation in our region of the resources it can use to pay for essential services and infrastructure like schools, roads, and hospitals." Greens Senator Bob Brown

18 Sep 2004 AETFA: National Rally for Timor Sea Justice 
Message added 20 Sep 2004

"I am sending a message of solidarity on behalf of the Australia East Timor Friendship Association (South Australia) Inc [AETFA] and our apologies for not being able to attend the Canberra rally. Best wishes for the rally tomorrow. Hundreds of thousands of Australians who believe in international social justice will be with you in spirit even if the cannot physically be with you. Greetings of solidarity. Venceremos! [We will win the day!]" Andy Alcock,
Chairperson, Australia East Timor Friendship Association (SA),
[ ]
About AETFA:

16 Sep 2004 TSJC: Protest outside Timor Sea talks 
Media release added 18 Sep 2004
"I just feel like we were played for chumps. We went there, did all this good work and we thought it really was for a good cause. We didn't do it so our government could illegally profit at the expense of the East Timorese. That makes me angry" InterFET veteran, Chip Henriss-Anderssen
"Since 1999, the Australia government has taken more in disputed revenues from fields closer to East Timor than to Australia than it has given in combined civilian and military aid" Dan Nicholson, Timor Sea Justice Campaign - Australia

25 Aug 2004 AFFET: Selective Human Rights by Howard/Downer 
Media release added 26 Aug 2004

"We do not hear Howard and Downer claiming a feeling of responsibility for this [genocide of East Timorese], ... We don't even hear them caution Indonesia re repeating the same sorts of military abuses in Acheh and West Papua where they continue. And we see them denying East Timor its own finances from the Timor Sea to at least allow rebuilding of its infrastructure and to provide jobs for its people." Rob Wesley-Smith, Spokesperson, Australians For a Free East Timor - Darwin

20 Aug 2004 SJN: Australian Trust Fund from Oil for East Timorese 
Media release added 20 Aug 2004

"Australia must cease to draw oil from the Laminaria-Corallina field in the Timor Sea and put the monies it has accumulated over the last few years into a trust fund for the East Timorese. Additionally the Australian government must learn to treat East Timor as an equal in the negotiations surrounding the disputed maritime boundaries and to conduct these negotiations in a generous and ethical way." Social Justice Network with East Timorese community in Perth

19 Aug 2004 AETA: A turning point of history: The 1999 UN Referendum 
Article added 19 Aug 2004

"While Cosgrove and INTERFET were ingrained in our memories as the "heroes" of East Timor, (to remove the Vietnam stain, I wonder?), ... But behind the scene, Howard and Downer were press-ganging the new Timorese leadership into signing the iniquitous Timor Sea Treaty which guaranteed Australia an unfair share of Timor's oil and gas resources while denying them a fair maritime boundary. " Jefferson Lee, Timor Sea Campaign officer, Australia East Timor Association (NSW) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition Sydney

18 Aug 2004 GLW: New Timor Sea deal? 
Commentary added 17 Aug 2004

"In the press conference, Downer stated that Australia’s concerns are “less with the revenue we can extract from the Timor Sea than with the broader questions of sovereignty”. This probably means that the Australian government is willing to offer East Timor a higher percentage of revenue, in order to entrench the current, highly unfair, maritime boundary between East Timor and Australia." Vannessa Hearman

15 Aug 2004 TSJC Melb: Our work is far from finished! 
Commentary added 16 Aug 2004
"Australia has indicated a willingness to negotiate about all of the oil and gas fields in dispute. In exchange, it seems that the East Timorese government is willing to put its boundary claims on hold and focus on revenue sharing agreements. While the Australian government's willingness to actually negotiate is a step forward and encouragement for those campaigning on this issue, the deal is not done - and so our work is far from finished. ... the next month is perhaps the most important since the Timor Sea Justice Campaign began ... I would encourage everyone to get involved with the campaign or to otherwise take action now." Dan Nicholson, Timor Sea Justice Coalition - Melbourne

13 Aug 2004 AETA Sydney: Jose Ramos Horta Talk at "Politics Society" 
Revised report added 17 Aug 2004
"[Horta] said in his meeting with Alexander Downer ... they agreed "maybe we should put aside (the maritime boundary issue) while we find a framework for a fairer acceptance of resource allocation. How do we structure (these negotiations?) we asked each other?". Horta said his (own) choices were either to "push Australia into a corner" or seek "a way out for both sides". He said that now "a financial agreement will be found that will be fairer to both sides". He acknowledged the key role of Australia (in mobilising international opinion to support Interfet) in late 1999. He couched this comment in the context of the difficulty (usually) associated with mobilising the UN Security Council to take action against mass killings and genocidal situations. (Implying that the trade off for 'resources before borders' with Downer was also squaring off Timor's debt to Australia?)" Jefferson Lee, Timor Sea Campaign officer, Australia East Timor Association (NSW) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition Sydney

12 Aug 2004 AFFET & TSJC: Keep pressure on for a just solution
Commentary added 12 Aug 2004

"It looks as though East Timor will sacrifice the median line boundary, or maybe this is Downer's spin - who really knows except the participants - but we need to keep the pressure on for a just solution ... We need the max effort NOW as detail may be sewn up to East Timor's detriment - it is unacceptable for East Timor to be dudded of its long term economic future due to a desire to improve relations with Australia. ... just when success appears to be happening is the most dangerous time, and when activists good will and involvement is most needed." Rob Wesley-Smith, Spokesperson, Australians For a Free East Timor & Co-convenor, Timor Sea Justice Coalition - Darwin

11 Aug 2004 MMIETS: DFAT Correspondence re Timor's Oil
Commentary added 12 Aug 2004
“Australia has long been at the forefront of international assistance to East Timor.” DFAT "This is an astounding claim which cannot go unchallenged. Australia has not long been in the forefront of assistance to East Timor at all. Australia’s support for East Timor  was practically non-existent for 23 years, then reluctantly cautious when Suharto collapsed. Mounting public opinion was the moving force behind  the assistance given by any Government. No Australian Government of any complexion ever had the honesty or the compassion or the courage to risk overriding “our most important relationship”, that with Indonesia." Srs. Josephine Mitchell & Susan Connelly, Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies (MMIETS)

11 Aug 2004 MMIETS: Letter to Herald re Timor's Oil 
Letter added 12 Aug 2004

"Your editorial Timor solution not in law books (SMH 09.08.04)  mentions in passing that “at Australia's insistence there is no court or adjudicator to decide the legal case.” Well, of course. East Timor’s case is far stronger than our Government would have us believe, so we wouldn’t want interference from anything remotely like an independent arbiter." Sr. Susan Connelly, Spokesperson on oil issues, Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies (MMIETS)

10 Aug 2004 AETA: Timor solution not in the law books? 
Commentary added 12 Aug 2004
"The crux of the problem is that bad laws and bad treaties remain so until changed and no deal can overcome that fact. The original Evans-Alatas 'Timor Gap' Treaty was flawed and discredited. The May 2002 'Timor Sea' Treaty was similarly flawed by Canberra's overbearing insistence on 'Annexe E' ;  thereby locking the very new East Timor administration into conceeding 82% of Greater Sunrise to Australia at a time when they  had no room to negotiate either royalties or confirmed borders. The real way forward is, to coin a now popular phrase, "truth in government". We are obliged by international law to negotiate with fairness, equity and in good faith with our neighbours. Let's get on with it while there is still time." Jefferson Lee, Timor Sea Campaign officer, Australia East Timor Association (NSW) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition Sydney

6 Aug 2004 Cath News: Nun challenges media mischief on Timor oil 
News with letter added 20 Aug 2004

"Pearson’s gratuitous comments on the East Timorese Prime Minister end in conclusions which defy both fact and logic. Far better to reflect on the stimulating observation that in approximate population and wealth potential, East Timor is to Australia as Australia is to the US. The big difference is that the East Timorese stand up to domineering neighbours. Perhaps Australia’s offended frenzy over resource sharing is a case of backbone envy." Sr. Susan Connelly, Spokesperson on oil issues, Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies (MMIETS)

6 Aug 2004 GLW: Sword-Gusmao condemns Canberra's gas revenue offer 
Commentary added 17 Aug 2004

"[the wife of ETimorese Pres. Xanana Gusmao] praised the work of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign [], which has “kept the issue alive in Australia” and “raised public awareness”. She warned that in Australia, “newspapers don’t necessarily tell you the real truth” ... " Vannessa Hearman

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