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'No Dili dalliance for cruise ship

NT News Darwin - February 25, 1997

[A summary was posted earlier, but parts got mangled by an unstable line. (Not as bad as the truth is mangled by Indonesian reports on East Timor). Pedro T Coelho asked for a reposting, here done so by Wes, + comments.]

"A German cruise liner was diverted from the East Timor capital of Dili and had its movements tracked by the Indonesian military last week. "The Nassau registered 'Albatross' berthed in Darwin on Sunday after a 3 day voyage from Bali. It will be in Darwin until Wed 26th. "Carrying 700 passengers and 300 crew, the 25,000t vessel had been due to visit Dili on Feb 22 for a 2 day stay. "But the ship's master Capt Werner Detampel said the liner's Jakarta's agents had informed him on Feb 17 that there 'could be be problems' in berthing in Dili. Capt Detampel said the Indonesian Ministry of Defence later refused the ship a security clearance to visit the port. "He said when the ship eventually avoided Dili and made its way along the northern coast of Timor, it was followed by a Navy patrol vessel. He said: 'Its commander asked where we were going and made sure we weren't putting into Dili. After that we were circled for another 6 hours by a military plane that made sure we made no attempt to get to Dili'.

"Capt Detampel said the ship's Jakarta agents had learned through Indonesian authorities of 'troubles' in the East Timor capital. "Darwin based representatives of Austalians for a Free East Timor said yesterday they were aware of reports of major unrest and fighting in the annexed Indonesian province. "Capt Detampel said in considering an alternative port to Dili, he has suggested Kupang in western Timor, where the ship berthed in 1995. But 2 days later he was told that a stop-over in Kupang was also out of the question. So the ship headed straight to Darwin". end quote.

I would like to clarify that whilst I informed the media of the ship's early arrival and why, and mentioned reports of major Indonesian military attacks on citizens in East Timor since Christmas, there is NO WAY I or any AFFET member would talk about East Timor as an "Indonesian Province". It is a great pity that the Australian media uses the illegal and immoral position of the Australian government recognising Indonesia's military occupation of East Timor, despite this being illegal in International Law, and against 10 UN Resolutions. We don't. WE think there is a higher responsibility than to ones' own government if that government behaves illegally and immorally.

Further comment: At least it seems that this time there were no threats from the Indonesian military to sink the ship, unlike what happened about 3 years ago when the "Lusitania Expresso" tried to get to East Timor as an international Peace mission after sailing from Darwin.

The denial of access to Timor by the "Albatross' reconfirms the general policy of Indonesia in trying to isolate Timor from international scrutiny. What have they got to hide?? It is probable that at present there are not enough trained spies to follow 500 passengers all at once in the numbers (10-20) usually allocated to visitors. Germany has been taking an interest in East Timor, and Bishop Belo called there after getting his Nobel Peace Prize. Is this a reprisal?

Further, it is clear that since the massive welcome home demonstration by East Timorese numbering perhaps one third of the whole nation of East Timorese, and the foiling of probable assassination attempts on Bishop Belo, there has been massive reprisal followups by the military and their paid goons, operating in a lawless way during the dead of night.

On 15/1/97 AFFET in a Press Release by Rob Wesley-Smith titled "Cobras or Crocs" mentioned that Prabowo has been in Viqueque adding to his agents, especially in the youth thug group 'Gada Paksi'. No one in the media has yet bothered to link this information with the subsequently widely reported February arrests of over 100 young people defending themselves from attacks by Gada Paksi in Viqueque. The vicious General Prabowo has tried to defend these activities, but many understand that since an earlier assignment in East Timor when his own men mutilated him in a very private parts or parts, he has taken out his hatred and revenge on the poor East Timorese.

A student delegation from Melbourne University endorsed by the National Union of students recently went to East Timor and made contact with fellow students. Two met Resistance leader David Alex, who confirmed that human rights conditions were now "MUCH WORSE" since the Nobel award. Also the student groups they met reinforced their lack of learning resources and academic freedoms, while women informed them of continuing rapes and other abuses and limitations on their lives including the strong patriachal structures of society and Church, and the effects of war. They observed environmental devastation, large presence of transmigrants, and appalling conditions for orphans and medical services.

The Nobel Peace Prize award has focussed world attention on East Timor, but the world must realise that the Indonesian military in Timor is a law to itself, and reacts to such attention by increasing their oppression on the hapless Timorese. This also happened after the Dili massacre. Obviously the world has an added responsibility to ensure that the Nobel Peace Prize award does NOT result in the current added oppression WITHIN East Timor.