The Acts of the Democracies




East Timor

In Australia, an enquiry occurs into the deaths of six Australian, UK, and New Zealand journalists and cameramen during the invasion of East Timor by Indonesia in 1975. Both the UK and Australian governments had kept quiet about the killings until persistent campaigning from the widow of one of the journalists, Greg Shackleton.

After the enquiry concludes (against eye witness testimony) that the journalists were killed in "cross fire", the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, states that "you can't always expect countries with whom you want to have good relations to have the same value system as we have."

Indonesia's annexation of East Timor had resulted in 200,000 deaths, a third of the population. This figure had been verified by Amnesty International, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Australian Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Timor Gap Treaty, signed in 1989, had allowed Australia and Indonesia to exploit East Timor's huge oil reserves, estimated at 7000 million barells.

The two countries upgrade this treaty to allow the plunder of East Timor's fishing grounds. Another deal on infrastructure projects benefits the Indonesian president (Suharto) and his family to the tune of $53,000 million. The Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fisher, describes Suharto as "perhaps the world's greatest figure in the latter half of the 20th century".

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