Gareth Smith
Gareth Smith campaign leader

In 1999 I was one of 400 UN District Electoral officers who volunteered to manage the vote for whether East Timor was to be independent of Indonesia or whether it was to be part of it. For 400 years East Timor had been colonised by the Portuguese and then by the Indonesians in a bloody invasion in 1975 which saw 1/3 of its population killed. Despite violent intimidation the people voted overwhelmingly for independence. The UN vowed to stay in East Timor whatever the outcome of the Popular Consultation but on August 30, we were told to evacuate because there was going to be a bloodbath - and there was. Indonesian militias hacked hundreds of people to death while Indonesian warships sailed even the roofing iron from huts, back to Indonesia. Australia and the UN did nothing. My friends and I protested on the roof of Parliament House, Canberra and I spray painted the white marble "Shame, Australia, Shame" for which I incurred a fine for criminal damages of over $16,000. Now, once again, this impoverished nation is being screwed by Australia which wants to grab as much oil and gas revenue as possible and is using its spy network in a dirty tricks campaign to subvert the legal process.

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