Issue 7
Monday, 02 September 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Dr Vannessa Hearman brings delegates up to speed on the progress of democracy in Timor-Leste
Dr Vannessa Hearman brings delegates up to speed on the progress of democracy in Timor-Leste

Researcher joins human rights exchange in Timor-Leste

By Andrew Hall

Senior Lecturer in Indonesian Studies Dr Vannessa Hearman accompanied eight young Australians to Dili recently to celebrate 20 years since the 1999 United Nations-sponsored referendum in Timor-Leste.

Asia Justice and Rights – a non-profit organisation, based in Jakarta – and Timor-Leste-based rights group Centro Nacional Chega! facilitated the exchange between young people from East Timor, West Timor (Indonesia) and Australia to provide an opportunity to share their cultural history, to learn from each other's human rights efforts, and to build solidarity for change.

“My role was to be a facilitator and resource person and to provide insights drawn from my historical research on the relationship between Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Australia, and my participation in the events surrounding East Timor’s path to independence,” Dr Hearman said.

“The exchange was designed to bring together youths from West Timor and Timor-Leste as outlined in Timor-Leste’s truth commission recommendations, that urges Indonesia and Timor-Leste to ‘develop ways of deepening people-to-people relations and cooperation in social, cultural, economic and political life’.”

In July 1999, in the lead up to the UN referendum, Dr Hearman was part of an Australian Council of Trade Unions tour to the then-Indonesian province of East Timor. From 2000 to 2002, she lived and worked in East Timor as an Australian Volunteer Abroad and then as UN translator and interpreter in Bahasa Indonesia.