The Guardian April 19, 2000


East Timor protesters sentenced

Four East Timorese supporters who painted the walls of the Parliament 
House in Canberra were sentenced in the Canberra Magistrates court on April 
12.

Jacob Grech and Robert Samsa were fined $600 each and Mark Gwynneth was 
fined $300 for trespassing.

Gareth Smith, who served in East Timor with the UN and did the graffiti, 
was ordered to pay compensation of $16,385.00 and was placed on a two-year 
$2,000 good behaviour bond.

The charge related to events in 1999 when the four hung a protest banner 
and "Shame Australia Shame" was sprayed on the building.

It was September 10 and the East Timorese slaughter was in full swing.

The Magistrate's decision to dismiss the defence argument based on the 1949 
Genocide Convention which compels Australia to prevent and punish genocide 
is perhaps not surprising given Australia's complicity in East Timor's 
genocide.

It is a matter of record that genocide has been perpetrated by the 
Indonesian Military and police in East Timor since 1975 and that Australia 
was complicit in training the infamous Kopassus special forces at Canungra 
on the Gold Coast and in giving the 1975 invasion de jure recognition.

"Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer even went so far as to call for the 
mass murderer Suharto to be recognised as the Man of the Century while Paul 
Keating's obeisance to Bapak Suharto is legendary", said Gareth Smith.

On September 8 the international community gave Indonesia 48 hours to halt 
the bloody post-ballot (referendum on independence) havoc. The deadline 
passed with an escalation of the violence, leading to the protest calling 
for peace enforcers to be sent into East Timor.

In explaining his action, Gareth Smith said, "we were compelled to act 
because of Australia's reluctance to fulfill its obligations under the 
Genocide Convention. For the Prosecution to draw a parallel between animal 
liberationists breaking into Parkwood Eggs and our action to save human 
lives is monstrously obscene.

"We promised the people of East Timor that UNAMET would remain in East 
Timor after the ballot no matter what the outcome. Instead we abandoned the 
people to murder and mayhem. We broke domestic law so that the higher law 
of saving life could be furthered by mobilising public opinion to force the 
Howard Government to intervene.

"We believe our actions were instrumental in part in getting the peace 
enforcers into East Timor sooner rather than later and preventing a huge 
planned massacre at Dare", concluded Mr Smith.

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