Gareth W R Smith, Palestine Liberation Centre, Byron Bay.
Supporters of Palestine are often asked why don’t we agitate for Tibet, the Rohinga or Russian gays instead.
The reason is simple, Australia backs apartheid Israel ignoring its appalling human rights record just as it backed Indonesia, despite its invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the subsequent loss of one third of its population.
Many supporters of East Timorese independence switched their support to Palestine once the Timorese achieved independence in 1999.
I went as a UN volunteer to Viqueque province and witnessed first hand the terror inflicted on the Timorese by the Indonesian military.
I met women who said their babies were held by the ankles by soldiers who warned that that if they voted for independence it would be known and their infants would be whipped against a tree or wall.
On the sacred mountain of Matebian I was shown a scar on the hillside which is all that remained from a cave that scores of young Timorese hid in.
An Indonesian missile scored a direct hit and buried them all alive.
Australia hounded East Timorese activists and trained the infamous Kopassus special forces in Pearce Air Force base and at Canungra in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Outside the church in Makadiki BAe Hawk aircraft screamed just above the palm trees. One man in the crowd cried out, ‘Do we have to die again’. Pushing through the crowd I embraced him giving an assurance that the UN would stay in Timor regardless of the peoples’ choice.
Around 1pm on August 30, our ballot boxes were snatched up by CIVPOL and we were told to get the hell out of there because there was going to be a bloodbath: there was.
Australia and the rest of the world stood by doing nothing. Now, after 50 years the Palestinians continue to die and be maimed while Israel is feted and our politicians, journalists, academics and captains of industry flock to this pariah. Why do they have to die again?