A number of peaceful protests are planned in the coming months by various groups within Timor-Leste to call for the negotiation of maritime boundaries.
Today the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea organized a peaceful march and vigil in Dili, across the street from the Australian Embassy.
The group has been formed by activists, students and former resistance groups.
Coordinator, Juvinal Dias, said the Australian Government needs to respect East Timor’s sovereignty as an independent country. The Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor (MKOTT), as they are known in Timor, is reaching out to Australian's to stand with the Timorese people on this issue.
“Timorese people supported Australian soldiers during the Second World War, and many Australian people were in solidarity with Timor-Leste during our struggle against the illegal Indonesian occupation. Today, many Australian people still continue to support our communities; therefore we need your support to push your government to be willing to fairly resolve our common boundary. The change for your Government policy is in your responsibility too” said Mr Dias.
Here is there official statement from today:
Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea
Declaration to the Australian Government
Dili 23 February 2016
For more than 40 years, Australia has thirsted over oil and marine resources in the Timor Sea which belong to Timor-Leste according to international law and principles. From the beginning, Australia has justified their desire with a variety of arguments. For example, in 1972 Australia made a treaty with Indonesia to define their seabed border. Australia still uses the outdated continental shelf argument to rationalize their occupation, domination and theft from Timor-Lestes people.
In 1974, Australian oil companies discovered the Greater Sunrise gas field. To make it easier to reap resources from Sunrise and elsewhere in Timor-Lestes territory, Australia supported Indonesias 1975 invasion of Timor-Leste which killed nearly 200,000 people.
When Timor-Leste won independence from the illegal Indonesian occupation in 1999, Australia still desired the Timorese peoples resources, and coerced Timor-Leste to accept some Australian rights to the Elang-Kakatua, Bayu-Undan and Greater Sunrise fields. They also pressured Timor-Leste to surrender its rights to the Laminaria-Corallina and Buffalo oil fields, which are in an area claimed by both countries.
Many Australian people believe that your Government has been generous to our people, but this is a misconception. Since 1999, Australia has provided approximately US$1.7 billion in military and civilian assistance for Timor-Leste through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. During the same sixteen years, the Australian government has received nearly $5 billion dollars in revenues from oil and gas fields which rightfully belong to Timor-Leste. The more than three billion dollars Timor-Leste has given to Australia makes us your largest aid donor, not the other way around.
Timor-Leste continues to endure injustices from Australias occupation of the Timor Sea, and therefore the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) asks the following of the Australian Government:
1. Australia should respect the sovereignty and dignity of the nation of Timor-Leste, as it does for other nations in the world.
2. Australia should return to the mechanisms for resolving maritime boundary disputes of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
3. The Government of Australia should negotiate with the Government of Timor-Leste in good faith.
4. Australia should not continue to use the Continental Shelf argument which is no longer valid under international law.
5. Australia, as a large nation, should not use its economic and political power in the region to continue to take advantage of the Timorese peoples future.
Viva the Maubere People!
Down with Australias Occupation of the Timor Sea!