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Timor Sea Movement Talks

MKOTT: Timor Sea Movement Press Release on Talks

Movimento Kontra Okupasun Tasi Timor Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea

At two o'clock this afternoon, at the Hotel Timor, the second negotiation between Timor-Leste and Australia is due to begin to determine their maritime boundaries. The Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea, as we did the last week, would like to urge the Australian government to take the following actions:

1. Respect our independent and sovereign state. Our government’s legitimacy and authority are equal to yours. We may be small and new, but we are just as much a nation as you are.

2. Negotiate a fair maritime boundary, including seabed and water column economic zones, with Timor-Leste, according to contemporary legal principles as expressed in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, based on a median line. If both sides approach the process in good faith, it should take no more than three years to reach an agreement. We ask Australia to meet monthly or as often as Timor-Leste’s government requests, since your resources are far greater than ours, and our need for a solution is more pressing than yours.

3. Rejoin the maritime boundary dispute resolution mechanisms of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court of Justice, so that Timor-Leste and Australia will have boundaries consistent with the law if negotiations do not result in a just and prompt solution.

4. Stop issuing new exploration licenses in seabed territory that is closer to Timor-Leste than to Australia. During each of the last three years, including last month, Australia offered such areas to oil companies, and your government signed one contract as recently as 23 February 2004. This is our property, and you have no right to sell it.

5. Deposit all revenues received by the Australian government -- including taxes and rents -- from Laminaria-Corallina, Buffalo, Greater Sunrise, and other petroleum fields that are closer to Timor-Leste than they are to Australia into an escrow account. When a permanent seabed boundary is established, this account will be divided appropriately between our two nations. Australia has already received more than $1 billion U.S. dollars from Laminaria-Corallina and other fields since 1999, which should also be put into escrow.

The Movement also appeals to the Government of Timor-Leste, including political leaders of our country, to:

1. Put pressure on Australia to agree on a maritime boundary in no more than three years

2. Not ratify the Sunrise International Unitization Agreement (IUA)

3. Use every available resource, including Timor-Leste’s friends around the world, to pressure Australia to respect Timor-Leste’s rights

4. We appeal to all political leaders to unite for the national interest in standing against the illegal occupation of the Timor sea

5. Our government should sign, and our National Parliament should then ratify, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

6. Train as many Timorese as possible

The Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea was formed in Dili, Timor-Leste in April 2004 to help the Australian government and people better understand how people in Timor-Leste feel about Australia’s violations of our rights, occupation of our maritime territory, theft of our resources, and denial of our nationhood. The Movement organized three days of peaceful demonstrations from April 14 through April 16, 2004 outside the Australian embassy in Fatuhada, Dili, Timor-Leste, with the objective of expressing Timorese civil society’s dissatisfaction and disappointment over the Australian government’s violations of the Timorese rights in the Timor Sea.

The Movement includes NGOs, individuals, university students, senior high school students of all levels and every part of the Timorese civil society without political interest of any kind and without financial support of any kind from any political parties.

Although some people have suggested that such a successful peaceful demonstration must have a political interest, others have different views about who was behind the demonstration. We have also heard some political figures giving their own personal perceptions about our peaceful demonstration. We believe that most of the wrong information they have issued in regard to the issue of oil and gas was because they do not understand the real objectives of this Movement.

We want to make it clear to the general public and the press that this is a national movement that include all levels of Timorese society where children, youth, women, the elderly, the poor and the needy are well represented. All our resources for the three days of peaceful demonstrations came from concerned and committed citizens seeking for national interest in the Timor Sea.

We are grateful that the movement’s peaceful demonstration was successful and there was no injury or property destruction of any kind, and we thank all those who participated for their maturity, respect and solidarity. We ask the entire population of Timor-Leste to join us in our continuing campaign against Australia’s illegal occupation of the Timor Sea if the Australian Government refuses to negotiate in good faith to find a comprehensive resolution.

Section Coordinators of the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea: Tomás Freitas, Program Nuno Rodrigues, Logistics Sisto dos Santos, Socialization and Mobilization Tomé Jerônimo, Outreach Domingos Ati, Security Dr. Christopher Henry Samson, Media Relations João Sarmento, Spokesperson

The Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea includes: La’o Hamutuk, HAK Association, Haburas Foundation, NGO Forum, Mirror for the People (LABEH), Timor-Leste Agriculture and Development Foundation (ETADEP), Labor Advocacy Institute for Timor-Leste (LAIFET), Sah’e Institute for Liberation, KSI, ARI, Proletariat Group, Sustainable Agriculture Network (HASATIL), Arte Moris, Timor-Leste Socialist Labor (SBST), Timor-Leste Labor Union Confederation (KSTL), Independent Center for Timor Sea Information (CIITT), Association of Men Against Violence (AMKV), Bibi Bulak, Student organizations.

La'o Hamutuk P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia) email:

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