Herald-Sun 1996 - “As a portfolio, East Timor is the
cemetery of Australian principle.”
One of the books that put pressure on Canberra to initiate policy change -
Vintage 1998. Several copies of the book were smuggled into Dili.
Performing and addressing American
audiences on the UN’s human rights failures in
Tibet and West Papua during 2003
TOP (left to right): Assorted media; The Bendigo Advertiser 22 June 2002; The Age 15 June 1998
BOTTOM: Congratulating Jose Ramos Horta on Nobel Peace Prize 1996; At London’s BBC Radio 5 with Amandio Gomes 1998;
Reflecting with Xanana Gusmao at Melbourne Trades Hall 1999
Interview with Sofia
Jim Aubrey, you have a significant background as a human rights activist and your work in those years was quite substantial — East
Timor, Tibet, West Papua — endorsements from His Holiness the Dali Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, rubbing shoulders with Noam
Chomsky in the book Free East Timor. Then an invitation to address the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, not to mention
being condemned in our very own Parliament House.
And praised in the same parliament, I might add — not that I need any praise for siding with people whose freedom has been wrenched
I think it was 1996, Canberra — that plane above the ANZAC Day march with the East Timor banner “broken promises, friendship
abandoned”. I believe the then foreign affairs minister Kim Beazley had the pilot arrested and involved federal police.
Lead in to the ABC news that evening. Yes, the extraordinary things that ordinary people have to do when those who are supposed to
represent us are in bed with a psychopathic serial killer, as Jose Ramos Horta once referred to Suharto. Gareth Smith, my friend and
colleague in Canberra, and I, had a great work ethic, “let’s do it!” And we did.
And on the ground, the diggers?
All on board. No one supported the government’s repugnant and morally bankrupt policies. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that in an era
where good people around the globe are talking about a World Commons, those treacherous policies with the Timor Gap oil focus, can
only be viewed as felonious acts that contributed to the dire straits of the victims of genocide in East Timor. A shameless 25-year
contribution to the death of a nation.
You weren’t afraid to sling the mud, were you?
Thanks to a 44-gallon drum full of villains, there was a lot of mud to sling.
Starting with Gough Whitlam. I believe you had a couple of run-ins? In a radio interview with Phillip Adams you described the
former prime minister as Pontius Pilate, having washed his hands of the Balibo Five and entire population of East Timor.
Yes, hard to believe how anyone could be so manifestly purblind on the life and death of our citizens and the East Timorese. But
Canberra had a cast of thousands supporting him.
You stood for the Australian Democrats against Gareth Evans in the 1996 federal election.
The media was helpful on the issue. I’ll never forget…1995, I think…Senator Sid Spindler, at the demonstration we had outside the
University of Melbourne reception for the then UN Secretary General Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Around 500 demonstrators and a
strong showing of police on the ground and on horseback. At one point, Sid looked sideways to me and said, “Shall we jump the
What are you working on now?
I retired from hands-on activism quite some time ago. Burnt out to the max. Always wanted to get back to my roots — creativity — and
there's no reason why the two cannot be married in a soulful way. I’m working on two books - both issue orientated. I hope to have the
first one ready late next year.