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East Timor activist to be charged for displaying torture photos

The AustraAsian - December 12, 1997

Darwin – East Timor activist Vaughan Williams from the Darwin-based Australians for a Free East Timor is due to appear at the Northern Territory's Darwin Magistrates Court on Monday December 15 for publicly displaying pictures of East Timorese women being tortured by the Indonesian Armed Forces (Abri).

He is being charged by police under the Northern Territory's Summary Offences Code 320 for "offensive behaviour in a public place" which carries a fine of Aus$105.

Mr Williams' exhibition, at the Darwin City Mall, was in conjuction with World Human Rights Day and he had a valid permit, issued by the Darwin City Council, to hold it. The pictures have been confiscated by the Northern Territory Police and will be used as evidence against Mr Williams on Monday.

These photographs were released around the world on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Vancouver late last month, in which Indonesia's President Suharto attended.

The photgraphs show hooded Abri soldiers torturing naked and half-naked young East Timorese women, tying them to a tree and holding cigarette butts close to their naked bodies – which appear to be bruised and spattered with blood.

The photgraphs also show a Christian Cross and messages in Bahasa Indonesia written on their skin. The words read: "This is a Timorese champion, this is what becomes when anti-RI," or Republic of Indonesia.