Appeal to East Timor solidarity groups and human rights advocates.

We appeal to all solidarity groups and other organisations organising protests and commemorations of the 1991 Santa Cruz Dili massacre to include a protest (in what ever form appropriate to local circumstances) demanding that the Australian government allow 1385 East Timorese who have fled the brutal occupation by Suharto's New Order armu in East Timor.

They have fled the horrors of the Suharto's dictatorship's military occupation. The absence of any political freedoms and the possibility of being arrested, tortured, raped and murdered have forced them to leave their homeland and seek refuge in Australia among friends and relatives.

The Australian government has refused to take any decisive action to allow the East Timorese to stay in Australia. Many have been in Australia for two years. The Australian government is claiming that the East Timorese (in the Australian government's eyes, but not in the Portuguese government's eyes) hold Portuguese citizenship and can therefore should go to Portugal. The East Timorese, who do not speak Portuguese and have no family in Portugal, want to stay with friends and family in Australia. The Portuguese government has stated that it will not accept East Timorese who do not wish to go to Portugal.

The Australian government has been fighting in the courts and through the Immigration Department to prevent the East Timorese refugees from staying in Australia. Their situation of uncertainty, of no residency rights to welfare,w ork etc is causing immense emotional, psychological and material suffering for these East Timorese.

They left East Timor to escape the brutality of the Indonesian military forces, partly trained by the Australian government. Having arrived in Australia they face another, more subtle but also very painful form of brutality.

ALL EAST TIMORESE COMMUNITY GROUPS SUBMISSION
We appeal to all groups to demand that the Australian government agree to a submission made jointly by all the East Timorese community organisations in Australia to the Australian Minister for Immigration requesting that the East Timorese refugees be granted a humanitarian category visa even if this requires legislation to create such a category.

We appeal for demonstrations, pickets, delegeations etc be organised to Australian Embassies, consulates, and other government offices on or near November 12.

Please send details of any actions that you decide to carry out to ASIET.

Background:

Court rules for East Timorese refugee

By Max Lane

On May 2, 1997 the full Federal Court set aside a decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal that East Timorese refugee Jong Kim Koe was not a refugee under the International Refugees Convention. The tribunal will now need to re-hear the case.

The tribunal had found that while Jong would face a real chance of persecution in Indonesia, he had both Portuguese and Indonesian citizenship - and under international refugee conventions, somebody with dual citizenship must face persecution in both countries before they can be regarded as a refugee.

The Federal Court decided that the tribunal had erred in considering only the formal fact of Jong's Portuguese citizenship and not the - effectiveness of the protection available to the person by the country of his second nationality.

Jong arrived in Australia in March 1992, having decided to leave East Timor following his involvement in the protests in Dili on November 12, 1991, which were attacked by the Indonesian military, killing more than 270 East Timorese.

Jong's first language is Tetum, the language of East Timor. He was two years old when the Portuguese presence ended. He does not speak Portuguese and has no connections with Portugal, while four siblings are resident in Australia.

The Portuguese government has it made it clear that it will not accept East Timorese deported to Portugal against their will.

The Australian government has announced that it will consider appealing the decision or legislating tp change the applicable laws!!!

Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET)
P.O. Box 458,
Broadway NSW 2007,
Australia.

Tel: 02-96901230
Fax: 02-96901381
Email: asiet@peg.apc.org
Http:\\www.apc.org\~asiet
National Coordinator: Max Lane


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