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East Timor - open letter
7 September 1999
Forwarded on behalf of Corso
7th September 1999
AN OPEN LETTER TO FOREIGN MINISTER McKINNON
Dear Mr McKinnon,
I write to you once again about the ongoing terror in East Timor. I understand that you and others in the New Zealand Government are involved in ongoing negotiations to resolve the situation in East Timor. However you need to know that many of us here in NZ feel that the time for appeasing the Indonesians and turning a blind eye to their double game is over.
We are shamed by the world's unwillingness to confront Indonesia's hypocrisy and crimes of genocide in East Timor. We understand that loss of face is a serious concern for the Indonesians, however we fell that the massive loss of life in East Timor is of far greater significance.
On Tuesday morning, "Morning Report" carried an item which quotes Max Bradford saying that it was pointless to expel the six Indonesian military who are training here at the moment as it would make no difference. I suggest to you that unless a small country like NZ can take this kind of symbolic action, we have very little else to offer on the international stage.
At present the NZ Government seems to accept that sending more Indonesian troops into East Timor and having a state of martial law declared by Jakarta will solve the problem. I suggest to you that having the Indonesian military there at all is exacerbating the situation in East Timor. This government seems to be the only people still breathing in NZ who believe that the Habibie regime and General Wiranto have any intention of allowing the Timorese to achieve their dreams of independence and peace.
We demand that this government challenge the hypocrisy coming out of Jakarta, send home the Indonesian military who are training here and meet with the Indonesian ambassador immediately to express New Zealand's abhorrence at the orchestrated genocide happening in East Timor.
We are also very concerned that the Australian Government is waiting for permission from Jakarta, (who are now regarded as international criminals), before they send in their troops as peacekeepers. As you know, Australia has a huge historic debt to the people of East Timor, because during the second World War, their troops were saved from the Japanese by the people of Timor. When the Japanese landed in Timor, the people died in their thousands in an effort to protect Australian soldiers. Just bcause Australia has no honour, does New Zealand have to be the same.
We ask that you use every means at your disposal to convince the Howard Government that peace in our region will not be achieved by appeasing the present Indonesian regime. We know that the Indonesians will never willingly allow foreign troops into East Timor and this tactic of the Australians does them no credit.
We also believe that the Indonesian military are using the Timorese to teach a sobering lesson to their own people in Aceh, West Papua and other parts of their archipelago who seek independence from Java. While this is of concern, we do not believe that the Timorese should continue to be sacrificed because of Indonesia's internal problems.
Many people in this country are depending on Prime Minister Shipley and yourself to ensure that the presence of so many leaders in our country for APEC is not just a wasteful, self-congratulatory party. It is no coincidence that this year's APEC meeting is being held here, at the same time as East Timor has erupted into chaos and despair. Whether you take the historic opportunity that has been offered to us, is up to you!
President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be here this week and the United States has the economic and political power to influence Indonesia to withdraw all troops from East Timor. We ask that you impress on them the urgency of their confronting the Indonesian regime with an ultimatum that the Indonesian army leave East Timor immediately and that the United Nations return as peacekeepers.