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CWS on East Timor

9 September 1999 - Forwarded from Christian World Service : Media release and letter to Don McKinnon ...

Media release

Suspend the APEC Agenda

"The APEC agenda should be suspended to formulate an action plan on Timor Lorosae" said Jill Hawkey, National Coordinator of Christian World Service. "Discussions on the side are not good enough", she said.

"I find it very cynical that regional leaders are here in Aotearoa New Zealand under the APEC banner of improving the ‘stability, security and prosperity of its peoples’, while people are being murdered in cold blood."

"The people of Timor Lorosae have given a very clear result in the referendum - once again they are paying with their lives. Indonesia is not, and never has been, the legitimate government of Timor Lorosae, " she said.

"Prime Minister Shipley’s statement that East Timor cannot be on the APEC agenda, proves the point. APEC is about free trade and big business. It is not about the peoples of the region and their security, " said Jill Hawkey.

"The only solution is to suspend the APEC agenda and use the unique opportunity provided by the presence of the regional leaders to secure peace for the people of Timor Lorosae. It is not good enough to say that New Zealand is a small nation and with little influence in this situation. We have been presented with the ideal gathering for discussions on Timor Lorosae to take place. Have we the moral courage to suspend the APEC meeting until a just solution for Timor Lorosae is found?"

Christian World Service is the justice, aid and development organisation of the Conference of Churches in Aotearoa New Zealand (CCANZ). CCANZ and Christian World Service have consistently condemned the Indonesian occupation of East Timor since 1975.

Christian World Service is a member of the Free East Timor Coalition and has supported community development projects in East Timor.

For further information, please call Jill Hawkey, National Coordinator, Christian World Service Tel: 03 366 9274 (w), 03 332 8255 (after hours).

8 September 1999

Rt Hon Mr Don McKinnon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Parliament Buildings
Re: East Timor

Dear Mr McKinnon

On behalf of Christian World Service, I am writing out of our deep concern for the people of Timor Lorosae and our long commitment to its independence. I enclose a poem that our staff find particularly meaningful at this time.

As we watch the tragic events which are unfolding, we are aware of the international community’s record regarding Timor Lorosae and its failure to respond to the invasion by Indonesia in 1975 and to Indonesia’s continued violation of their sovereign rights. We are convinced that it is time for immediate action and time for real leadership in the region.

Like many others we were encouraged by the agreement to hold the referendum although we recognised that there were many dangers associated with such a vote. The international community through the United Nations undertook to hold a free and fair ballot. The people against great odds, risked their lives to vote and unequivocally voted for independence. The international community has failed in its obligations to protect the people.

APEC provides a unique opportunity for the regional heads of government to respond to the desperate plight of the Timorese. We have heard the government say that the APEC agenda with its focus on free trade and big business cannot include consideration of the situation in East Timor. We urge you to suspend the APEC agenda so that the leaders can plan immediate coordinated action on how to ensure peace and independence for the people of Timor Lorosae. Neither the Indonesian government nor the military are legitimate forces in Timor Lorosae, and we propose that a United Nations led force immediately expel them from the country.

Furthermore we join with many others throughout the world in calling for the cessation of all military ties with Indonesia. To send home military personnel being trained in this country will send the clear message that Aotearoa New Zealand will not tolerate such violence in our region.

There is no more urgent regional issue than this. As we continue to work and pray for peace in Timor Lorosae, we urge you to do everything within your power to ensure the peace and independence of the East Timorese people.

Yours sincerely

Jill Hawkey
National Coordinator

Why are we SO TIMOROUS?

Why are we so timorous
when it comes to the Timorese?

We sent our boys to Bosnia
to fight the Serb invasion.
We sent our boys to Somalia
for God-knows-what reason.

We damned the Yankees
when they stormed Grenada
We damned the Frenchies
when they messed Muroroa

So why are we so timorous
when it comes to the Timorese?

We kicked out South Africa
when they practised inequality
We booted out Nigeria
in the name of human dignity

What in the West Bank we reject
as hostile occupation
In East Timor we accept
as ‘friendly annexation’

Why are we so timorous
when it comes to the Timorese?

In the North when they kill a thousand
it’s ‘a bloody massacre’.
In the South when they snuff a nation
well, who gives a bugger?

When bombs fall from the West
we are the international conscience
When bullets fly in from the East
we retreat into shattering silence

Why are we so timorous
when it comes to the Timorese?

We call it genocide
when executed by a foreigner
So is it pesticide
when practised by our neighbour?

Why, why are we so timorous
when it comes to the Timorese?

Cecil Rajendra, Malaysia

Prepared for the ill-fated APCET II meeting 9 November 1996 where Rajendra missed getting arrested by five minutes and read the poem on the pavement in front of the police station in which his friends were held.

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