|Issue No 27||20 August 1999|
Dita Sari takes Sydney by Storm.
By Phil Davey
- CFMEU (Construction)
Hundreds of people packed out the Trades Hall Auditorium this week to hear from a true hero of the Labour movement, Indonesia's Dita Sari.
Released only five weeks ago after three years in prison for organising a strike of textile workers, Sari couldn't have missed a gigantic "Free Dita Sari" banner across the back wall of the auditorium. The thankfully redundant banner is now definitely a collectors item, but also served as an apt illustration of the strength of the international campaign to secure Sari's release.
After warm welcomes from Meredith Burgmann and John Maitland and an emotional rendition of the Internationale from the ubiquitous Solidarity Choir the meeting heard a powerful presentation from Sari, the new head of the Indonesian National Front for Worker Struggle (FNPBI).
Dita Sari began by acknowledging several members of FRETELIN, the East Timorese resistance, who were at the meeting. She spoke warmly of the good relationship between the Indonesian Trade Union movement and the East Timorese resistance.
Sari spoke with passion and conviction of the power that stems from a union, of her hopes for a free Indonesia and of the growing militancy of workers in Indonesia, many of whom do not receive even the legal minimum wage of A$1.50 a day. Sari commented several times on the good response she had got on her Australian tour from Australian unionists, particularly construction workers in Perth.
Those at the meeting were asked to maintain pressure on the Australian Government to halt training the Indonesian military and selling them arms that were then used to suppress Indonesian workers. Sari made it clear that she did not believe the Australian Governments policies on Indonesia reflected the views of the Australian people and stated that she had chosen Australia as her first place to visit upon being released because of the close links between the two peoples.
Dita Sari concluded her presentation by inviting the meeting to join her for May Day 2000 in Jakarta.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005