a wilderness and calling it Order
was nine on Saturday morning when Liam, from the East Timor solidarity
group rang me. I had agreed to do some 'security consultancy' for them
at the big Timor rally and march.
read Paddy McGuinness's column in this morning's Herald and some people
here are worried he might launch a crazy single-handed assault on the
rally", he said. I could hear the Solidarity Choir rehearsing in
I read it myself, but I don't think there's too much danger of that.
Paddy has smaller fish to fry today. He'll probably be doing the rounds
of his workers on the Balmain polling booths -- shaking hands, bringing
them their lunch hampers, that sort of thing. The worst that might happen
is that he'll stand at the edge of the rally with a placard."
I can see it now: 'MEDIA PROVOCATEURS CAUSED THE SLAUGHTER!!! CATHOLIC
CHURCH HAS BLOOD ON ITS HANDS!!!'"
like that. All the same, you might keep the nuns in a group on the inside
of the march and make sure the ABC journalists stick together."
anybody who looks like they're from the Left, or the 'chattering classes'".
the 'political elites'"
right, or those warmongering hysterics from among the 'civilised, educated
and enlightened' And John Howard will save us from our hysterical selves".
laughed and hung up, but it was no laughing matter. Tens of thousands
of East Timorese were being shipped out to holding camps in West Timor
and Bali and parts unknown, where the Alitas-Wiranto government were
holding them as hostages and the psychological-warfare types from TNI
were culling their ranks of anybody who looked like they might be trouble.
Dili had been comprehensively looted and burned by Indonesian soldiers
and police and bodies were being dumped at sea by Indonesian ships.
The lucky had made it into the hills, where they faced starvation and
murder, unless Australia start parachuting arms and supplies to them.
march started as five or seven thousand but it swelled to twenty thousand
as it passed through the city, sucking shoppers from the pavements and
workers from building sites. Drivers waved and beeped their horns in
have to marvel at the political sophistication of the Javanese elites.
Their cynicism and political subtlety is way beyond anything our politicians
can muster, and they're streets ahead of the UN. First their army, thinly
disguised as 'militias', terrorises Dili, killing anybody they can get
their hands on and Howard protests that they must 'restore order'. So
Wiranto sends more troops and they kill and loot and burn some more
and Howard gives them a stern deadline to 'restore order'. So Alitas
declares martial law and sends more troops and they empty Dili (and
everywhere else) of any Timorese that are left and complete the looting
and burning and John Howard urges them to 'restore' order' some more.
they've created a wilderness and called it Order, and there's nothing
left to save, at least in Dili and we haven't even sent their officers
-- who are still training here -- home, or withdrawn our recognition
of their sovereignty over East Timor, even though eighty per cent of
the population voted for independence.
on Sunday night, Indonesia's lame duck President, Habibe, announced
that international peacekeepers would be admitted to East Timor. No
doubt he insisted that a few days were needed to restore order for their
arrival. The Indonesians were still playing successfully for time and
their Australian-trained Kopassus troops were attacking refugees and
Fantilil camps in the mountains.
cleansing was still in full swing and Howard and Carter were still terrified
to act decisively in case the Indonesian stock market collapsed.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 1999