Timor Leste independence, friendship agreement celebrated this week

Bega's Timor-Leste flag-raising ceremony in 2015.
Bega's Timor-Leste flag-raising ceremony in 2015.

A special flag-raising ceremony is planned for Wednesday, May 17, at 12.45pm in Zingel Place, Bega, to mark the independence day of our nearest neighbour, Timor Leste.

It also celebrates the shire's friendship agreement  with the Natarbora area in the south of Timor Leste.

Over 13 years, the generosity of the Bega Valley community has enabled the dedicated volunteers of the Bega Valley Advocates of Timor Leste (BVATL) to achieve extraordinary outcomes in providing shelter, food production, clean water and sanitation, and especially educational opportunities in the Natabora Region. Advocates vice-president Dave Gallan will again report on this year's activities to the Bega Valley Shire Council.

The Bega Valley/Natarbora Friendship Agreement follows in the footsteps of our Diggers in World War 2 who were shown such support, care and friendship by the Timorese villagers at that time. This resulted in massive reprisals against the Timorese people, their infrastructure and their land,.

In 1975, when the Indonesians  invaded East Timor, one-third of the population was killed and the country ruined, and the Australian governments did nothing to support the Timorese.

At present, the Australian government and Timor Leste are negotiating to reach a fair agreement on a permanent maritime border between the two nations. The BVATL have a petition requesting that justice be done and the matter finalised as soon as possible in accordance with international law, and that this be done fairly and in good faith.

Timor Leste, one of the world’s poorest nations, is requesting is a fair and just share of the oil and gas resources under the Timor Sea between our two countries. Their claim is based on having a a boundary equidistant from both nations' coastlines, which is an internationally accepted position.  

To its credit, the Bega Valley Shire Council has minuted a motion in favour of  this claim.

The community is invited to join the Advocates as they celebrate Timor Leste's birthday, and to sign the petition. The tiny, struggling nation of Timor Leste deserves our support.

The next meeting of the BVATL is on Tuesday, June 6, in the staff room of Sapphire Coast Anglican College (SCAC) at 4pm. Your support and new members would be most welcome.  Contact Dave Gallan on 6494 4116, or Leona Cairns on 6492 5092 for more information.