07 March 2016

Timor Leste Protesters Urge Resolution of Boundary Dispute with Australia

DILI, Timor Leste – Protesters are rallying on Tuesday in Dili, Timor Leste, to push for talks to resolve a boundary dispute between the country and Australia.

The marchers, most of them students, held their protest near the Australian Embassy in the Timor Leste capital.

Some carried banners with the messages: “We want justice” and “Stop delaying discussions on maritime boundary in order to continue stealing our oil,” while others held the Timor Leste national flag.

Juvinal Dias, spokesman of the Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor, said Australia “shouldn’t be using its power to ‘steal’ from its impoverished neighbor’s future in the Timor Sea,” according to The Australian newspaper.

The two countries have been negotiating for years over the maritime boundary in the Timor Sea and over ownership of the large oil and gas reserves under the ocean floor.

Despite Dili and Canberra signing the joint Timor Sea Treaty in 2001, a spying scandal in 2013 spurred Timor Leste to consider withdrawing from the agreement.

The affair was resolved in June last year after Timor Leste confirmed Australia had returned documents which its agents had seized from Timor Leste government offices, following an order from the International Court of Justice that Australia halt spying on its island neighbor.