Around fifty people gathered this lunchtime outside DFAT in Melbourne in a protest timed to coincide with maritime boundary negotiations between Australia and East Timor…
NOT CHARITY BUT JUSTICE!
Members of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign and the Australia-East Timor Association handed out leaflets and invited signatures on a petition calling for the Australian government to stop unilaterally exploiting gas and oil resources in the Timor Sea at the expense of the people of East Timor, and to negotiate a settlement in accordance with accepted principles of international law. In the weeks leading up to the protest postcards had been distributed with a message for John Howard, and some of the large number so far returned were linked together in a chain which snaked around the entrance to the building; at the end of proceedings they were bundled up and delivered to the office. This was the message:
To: The Hon John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia.
In the interests of justice and maintaining good relations with East Timor, the Australian Government should, as a matter of urgency, negotiate in good faith with the East Timorese Government to:
Rapidly establish permanent maritime boundaries following the median line principles of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and with equitable lateral boundaries.
With their just share of Timor Sea oil and gas revenues, our newly independent neighbours will be able to overcome starvation, illiteracy and preventable disease.
Yours truly …
At maritime boundary negotiations on April 26, the Australian Government will try to short change East Timor out of billions of dollars. Despite East Timor being the poorest country in Asia, the Australian Government has already taken over two billion dollars worth of gas and oil taxation that under International Law belongs to East Timor! It now wants to take a disproportionate share of the Greater Sunrise field and deprive East Timor of a further $40 billion that would enable East Timor to overcome the widespread hunger, preventable diseases and poverty it currently faces. Demand that East Timor gets a fair go in the Timor Sea!
[The website and email addresses in the original post are no longer valid and are not included here.]
Outside Casselden Place
Alex, “a Timorese Australian” whose grandfather fought alongside Australians against the Japanese in the hope that it might change something for the people of East Timor:
Vanessa from the Timor Sea Justice Campaign – ” .. the Howard government does not reflect the values that we want reflected … What the Australian government wants to do is say to the East Timorese that they have no rights to sovereignty over their land and their sea. What they want to say is that we don’t care for international law, we have no regard for international law, we will withdraw from the International Court of Justice, that we will get our own way …”:
Roping off Casselden Place with a chain of postcards:
Pan view of the protest: