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East Timor Independence?
Contents. Introduction …………………………………………………………….. 3
Ethnological origin, demography and policy …………………………. 3
Before and after the arrival of the Europeans ……………………….. 6
Japanese occupation during World War II ……………………………7
The Portuguese colonial empire ……………………………………….. 8
Indonesian invasion …………………………………………………….. 10
Introduction to Indonesia ………………………………………………. 12
Independence of Indonesia and Sukarno ……………………………… 13
Formation of East-Timorese political associations …………………… 17
The parties ………………………………………………………………. 18
Australian support ………………………………………………………. 21
USA admits Timorese right to self-determination …………………….. 23
Indonesia admits independence …………………………………………. 23
Agreement Between the Republic of Indonesia and the Portugese
Republic on the Question of East Timor ……………………………….. 24
Conclusion ………………………………………………………………… 26
Introduction. It is not easy to write with feigned calm and dispassion about the events that
have been unfolding in East Timor. Horror and shame are compounded by the fact
that the crimes are so familiar and could so easily have been halted by the
international community a long time ago.
Timor, the Malay word for "Orient", is an island of the Malay Archipelago, the
largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sundas, lying between parallels 8 deg. 17' and
10 deg. 22' of south latitude and meridians 123 deg. 25' and 127 deg. 19' of latitude
east from Greenwich. It is bathed by the Indian Ocean (Timor Sea) at South, and
Pacific Ocean (Banda Sea) at North and has an oblong configuration in the direction
of southwest -- northeast. The island is surrounded by the Roti and Saval islands
through the Roti Strait, by the Lomblem, Pantar and Ombai islands across the Ombai
Strait and by Kissar isle to the northeast. Southwards, Australia dists about 500 km,
and 1000 km separates the southwest point of Timor from Java.
The total area of Timor is of 32 350 sq km, measuring the maximums of 470
km in length and 110 km in width. About 480 km wide, and a surface of 450 000 sq
km, the Timor Sea which is divided between the two territories, opening west into the
Indian Ocean and east into the Arafura Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean.
The territory of the island -- East Timor-- of which Portugal was recognized
administrative power by United Nations, occupies an estimated area of almost 19 000
km, and comprises the eastern half of the island, with 265 km in length and 92 km of
maximum width and an area of 16 384 km and the enclave of Ocussi-Ambeno that
dists 70 km from Batugadi, with 2 461 sq km and a coastline 48 km long. Still part of
East Timor is the island of Ataero (or Pulo-Cambing) with 144 sq km, just 23 km
northwards of the capital Dili and the tiny isle of Jaco with 8 sq km, being the oriental
extreme of East Timor just ahead of Tutuala.
Ethnological origin, demography and policy.
There are 12 ethnic groups in East Timor each of which has its own language:
9 Austronesian language groups - Tetum, Mambai, Tokodede, Kemak, Galoli, Idate,
Waima'a, Naueti; and 3 Papuan language groups - Bunak, Makasae, Fatuluku. The
Tetum live in two separate geographic areas within East Timor. A simplified version
of the Tetum language was utilised in Dili by the Portuguese as a lingua franca. This
language has spread throughout East Timor so that Tetum, in its original or simplified
form, came to be spoken by about 60% of the population. Though widespread, it is not
understood by all.
One of the first references to the natives of East Timor is expressed in the
description that in 1514 the Portuguese Rui de Brito sent to king D. Manuel. In our
free transcription, he wrote in these terms: “Timor is an island beyond Java, has plenty
sandalwood, plenty honey, plenty wax, hasn't junks for navigating, is a big island of
The `kaffir' is meant to refer to the “black and of troubled hair”. Timorese
what, not being untrue, was an imprecise observation as the type was to be found only
in some regions, specially in Ocussi, and generically in West Timor.
From the antrophological point of view, the island arouses the upmost
scientific interest such is the heterogeneity of it's people.
For centuries the East Timorese had been farmers, living in scattered hamlets
and eating what they grew. Only a few coastal East Timorese were fishermen. Trading
and shop keeping had for generations been in the hands of the Chinese. East Timor is
extremely mountainous, so the majority of East Timorese had always lived in
isolation, far from towns and foreign influences, tied to their fields and animistic
practices. In spite of centuries of Catholic missionary work by the Portuguese, in 1975
animists still numbered as much as 72 % of the population. The local Timorese kings
still played an important part in their lives and allegiances, whilst interference from
Portuguese administrators and military was almost non-existent.
In the period between World War 2 and the 1975 Indonesian invasion, a
number of East Timorese managed to gain an education in the colony's few schools.
Some were mestizos, of Timorese and Portuguese parentage, others were Timorese
from traditional ruling families, but the majority were native Timorese who gained
their education through the Catholic minor seminary. The emergence of this small
educated elite in the 1960s and 1970s ensured that, when the Portuguese left East
Timor in 1975, these people with schooling, and nationalist aspirations, became the
Politically, socially and ethnologically Timorese differ amongst themselves in
groups. There is the division in independent sucos (kingdoms), the distinction
between the Atoni tribes of the Servian kingdom, in West Timor, and the Belos of the
Portuguese territory, groups such as the Firacos, ethnic designation adopted by the
Timorese in between Baucau and Luca, or the Caladi which are the inhabitants of the
central crest , Malays and non-Malays, so many "sucos" and more than twenty
languages and dialects, the contribution of the exogamy, of parties irreconcilable. In
conclusion, that is the expression of a relative absence of bio-ethnic unity of the
The history of a People and their Culture voted to banishment from their
motherland, the eastern half of an island, former Portuguese colony is the much
unknown. Timor lies in South East Asia enclosed in world's largest archipelago. That
is Indonesia, which gave it's name to the Republic constituted after the dutch
withdrawl. Since the beginning, Indonesian governments have experienced resistance
coming from independist movements of various islands which claim ethnical and
cultural diveristy from the predominant Javanese type. Nonetheless they were
continuously silenced thus unable to internationalize the situation to a stage that
would force foreign intervention. When it became inevitable, in that single exception
of the western half of New Guinea, the autodetermination of the papuans in favour of
an integration in Indonesia was observed as an Indonesian orchestrated act, and
remembered until today as the darkest episode in the history of UN.
Indonesia couldn't either afford the regional instability that the prospect of a
small nation rising in between the empire would arouse .This solitary piece of territory
and it's inhabitants had to be sacrificed for a hugger cause.
Portugal which's vast colonial possessions had once made the country great,
with times had become responsible for it's retardment. The drawling of the situation
was put to an end with a successful coup d'etat, in April '74, which engaged a national
revolution ceasing dictatorship and commited to decolonization. Meanwhile, if East
Timor, due to distance and expense, was already the most forgotten colony, less
attention it was given towards the definition of it's future as the longed changes in the
metropolis didn't avoid internal deviations and contradictions. It brought instability to
the government of the country and the urgence to lay the basis of democracy.
For Indonesia however, the solution was announced: annexation by any terms.
As it couldn't be done without cover-up, the Indonesian accounted the "ignorance" of
Timor's closest neighbor, Australia, offering access to the Timor Gap for oil. The
maintenance of economic and institutional relations was (is) too important. Necessary
non-interference from superpower USA was also naturally reached. Having the
Americans weakened their position in South East Asia after Vietnam, Indonesia was
regarded as the last great bastion of anti-communism in the region, essentially in those
years for reasons of military strategy as we'll see ahead. Thus friendly relations were
very important to preserve.
So, in name of political, economical and military goals, with two major
countries making it possible for the pretender of East Timor, and before the impotence
of Administrative Power Portugal, Indonesia invaded in December '75, interrupting a
process of decolonization in course. The action was promptly condemned by the
United Nations. Although in face of International Law, and of the most elementary
human rights, Indonesia is regularly criticized by the International Community, East
Timor remains still insignificant to put at stake superior governmental interests.
As the case of East Timor becomes more of a serious arrow nailed in the flank
of Indonesia's diplomacy, Jakarta multiplies efforts to gain votes amongst countries
who normally vote against in the sessions of UN, the mediator of the discussions
between Portugal and Indonesia (without Timorese representation) to avoid further
embarrassments that have resulted uncomfortable for its economic relations, and
desirable leading role amongst the Non-Aligned Movement, the same that combated
Nevertheless the same policy persists for Timor. As if once the annexation has
been carried out it urges by all means to prove the righteousness of such action.
For the last 19 years, an excess of 200 000 Timorese have been killed by the
Indonesians. The Resistance arms itself with the weapons captured from the enemy.
Women, the aged and the children are concentrated in camps where they do forced
labour and many starve to death. Suspects are tortured, spanking and sexual abuse are
constant, many women have been sterilized. Family members are deliberately aparted.
Transmigration programs project the definite dissolution of the Maubere People.
Before and after the arrival of the Europeans
Previous to the European interference in the indigenous scheme of life, the
island of Timor was inhabited by barbarian people that couldn't write but used iron
and was already agricultural. Industry was limited to the fabrication of cotton cloths
with which they covered themselves and the commerce reduced to the trade of wax
and sandalwood for certain products that brought to Timor makasare, malays and
Much before the arrival of Portuguese and Dutch, Timor was part of the
commercial nets politically centered east of Java, after in the Celebes, and linked by
trade to China and India. In documents published during the Ming dynasty, in 1436,
the commercial value of Timor is put in relief and described as a place where “the
mountains are covered by trees of sandalwood producing the country nothing else”.
One of the first Portuguese to visit the island, Duarte Barbosa, wrote in 1518: “there's
an abundance of sandalwood, white, to which the Muslims in India and Persia give
great value and where much of it is used”.
Other products were exported such as honey, wax and slaves, but trade relied
mainly on sandalwood.
Japanese occupation during World War II
During the Second World War, Portugal declared a policy of neutrality. Dutch
and Australian troops nonetheless disembarked at East Timor in disrespect of
Portuguese sovereignty. But the real menace came with the Japanese invasion, three
months later, in February of 1942. The island became a stage of war between Japanese
and the allieds. Timorese were seen as secondary actors when in truth, after crossing a
period of rebellion against Portuguese rule, were they the more sacrificed during the
resistance until 1945.
In spite of Portugal's policy of neutrality, the Australian and Dutch troops
entered in Timor. It was the first of two foreigner military invasions. In Lisbon,
Oliveira de Salazar denounced the allied disembark as an invasion of a neutral
territory. Shortly after arrived the Japanese. It's not to admire that J. Santos Carvalho
saw in these actions an attitude of depreciation towards the sovereignty of Portugal.
When the allied forces arrived at Dili in December the 17th of 1941, he says that
governor Ferreira de Carvalho, without means to retaliate by arms ordered the national
flag to be hoisted in all public partitions and buildings of the colony. To further mark
his position of neutrality he confined himself to his residence and, by free
determination, wished to be considered prisoner.
The population of the capital went to live in the interior, mainly in Aileu,
Liquie and Maubara. Some of the few Portuguese that remained in Dili pursued
nevertheless with their usual lives, socializing with the forces stationed in Timor.
They were given instructions by the local government to maintain a correct attitude
but to show no familiarity neither to collaborate. An atmosphere of normality gain
form, and some families were prepared to go back. It is even reported that an
agreement signed by English and Portuguese governments defined that the allied
troops would retire as soon as arrived a contingent of Portuguese forces from Maputo
What happened instead was the Japanese invasion of Dili, in February of 1942.
During January they had managed to occupy Malaysia (except Singapore), the
Philippines (but not Bataan), Borneo and the Celebes, Birmania, New Guinea and the
Salmon islands. Following general L. M. Chassin - “at the end of the second month of
an hyperbolic invasion , the Japanese tide extended itself irresistibly beyond paralyzed
and impotent adversaries.” In the middle of February they invaded Sumatra occupying
Palembang, soon after Singapore is attacked and many Englishmen are made
prisoners. Java was surrounded and on the 20th, Bali and Timor were taken. After a
weak resistance , the Dutch troops abandoned by the Javanese soldiers -- which were
in majority --, escaped to the interior leaving behind armament. Dili was then
violently sacked by the Japanese, who found the city almost uninhabited.
The Portuguese colonial empire
Up to the final years of dictatorship in Portugal, in spite of the condemnation
of UN and the start of the guerrilla warfare in the African colonies of Angola, Guinea
and Mozambique, the Portuguese Colonial Empire was defended by the government
as an heritage of the glorious past and motive of national pride. However, the crescent
expenses of it's maintenance begun to reflect increasingly on the economy and social
tissue of the metropolis, what provoked crescent discontentment of the population,
finally leading to the Revolution of '74 that installed democracy and gave
independence to the colonies. East Timor was invaded by Indonesia precisely in the
course of decolonization.
During dictatorship, the colonies continued to be dedicated considerable
interest. For the nationalist ideology that characterized the regime, the vast regions of
the World under Portuguese sovereignty were to be seen as the justification of a
necessary conscience of greatness and pride to be Portuguese.
The expression "Portuguese Colonial Empire" would be generalized and even
met official formalization. Colonial patrimony was considered as the remaining spoils
of the Portuguese conquests of the glorious period of expansion.
These notions were mystified but also expressed in Law as in 1930 Oliveira de
Salazar (at the time minister of Finances and, for some time of the Colonies)
published the Colonial Act. It stated some fundamental principles for the overseas
territorial administration and proclaimed that it was “of the organic essence of the
Portuguese nation to possess and colonize overseas territories and to civilize
indigenous populations there comprised”. The overseas dimension of Portugal was
however soon put at stake after World War II. The converging interest of the two
victorious superpowers on the re-distribution of World regions productors of raw
materials contributed for an international agreement on the legal right for all peoples
to their own government. Stated as a fundamental principle of the UN Charter,
anti-colonialism gave thrust to the independist movements of the colonies, and in
matter of time unavoidably accepted by the great colonial nations: England, France,
Netherlands, Belgium. Yet such countries relied on mechanisms of economical
domination that would last, assuring that political independence wouldn't substantially
affect the structure of trade relations.
Loss of the Indian territories and the reactions. The first problem that the
Portuguese had to deal with was the conflict with the Indian Union, independent state
in 1947. The Indian nationalism had triumphed over the English occupation, and in
1956 forced the French to abandon their establishments in 1956. The same was
demanded to the Portuguese over their territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, but in face
of refusal. India severed the diplomatic relations. The passage through Indian territory
in order to reach the two enclaves dependent of Daman was denied since 1954, and
despite the recognition of such right by International Court of Justice recognized t
(1960), Dadrб and Nagar Haveli were effectively lost. This was followed by mass
invasions of passive resisters which Portuguese were still able to hinder until
December 19 of 1961, when the Indian Union made prevail it's superior military force,
to obtain final retreat of the Portuguese.
Goa had been capital of the Portuguese expansion to the East. Conquered in
1510 by Afonso de Albuquerque, it was also an active center of religious diffusion to
the point of being called the Rome of the Orient. In spite of it's the historical and
spiritual importance, the reactions against the military attack of the Indian Union
parted mainly from official sectors, and only moderately shared by the public opinion.
For the historian J. Hermano de Saraiva whom we have followed, it reflected the
dominant politic ideologies: at the end of the XIXth century, the colonizing activity
was considered a service rendered to civilization but since World War II viewed as an
attempt to the liberty of the peoples. This “doctrinal involucre of interest to which the
Portuguese were completely strange was rapidly adopted by the intellectual groups, in
great part responsible for the formation of the public opinion”. That's how Saraiva
justifies that the protests for the loss of Goa to the Indian Union were directed less to
the foreign power than to the Portuguese authorities, “for not having known to
negotiate a modus viviendi acceptable for both parts”. More than that, he detects in
this curious reaction a tendency that would accentuate along the two following
decades: the crisis of patriotism. To defend or to exalt the national values appeared to
the bourgeois elites of the 60's as a provincial attitude, expression of cultural
Indonesian invasion Indonesia invaded the territory in December 1975, relying on US diplomatic
support and arms, used illegally but with secret authorisation from Washington; new
arms shipments were sent under the cover of an official "embargo".
There was no need to threaten bombing or even sanctions. It would have
sufficed for the US and its allies to withdraw active participation and inform their
associates in the Indonesian military command that the atrocities must be terminated
and the territory granted the right of self-determination, as upheld by the United
Nations and the international court of justice. “We cannot undo the past, but should at
least be willing to recognise what we have done, and face the moral responsibility of
saving the remnants and providing reparations” - a small gesture of compensation for
Many were immediately killed, while their villages were burned down to the
ground. Others run to the mountains in the heart of their land, and organized a
resistance movement. These brave peasants - and their sons - have opposed the
barbarian indonesian soldiers for 23 years now. Torture, rape, all kinds of physical,
sexual and psychological violations, violent repression and brutal murder have been
the daily life of the Maubere people (the original people of East Timor) since.
Even before president Habibie's surprise call for a referendum this year, the
army anticipated threats to its rule, including its control over East Timor's resources,
and undertook careful planning with "the aim, quite simply... to destroy a nation".
The plans were known to western intelligence. The army recruited thousands
of West Timorese and brought in forces from Java. More ominously, the military
command sent units of its dreaded US-trained Kopassus special forces and, as senior
military adviser, General Makarim, a US-trained intelligence specialist with "a
reputation for callous violence".
Terror and destruction began early in the year. The army forces responsible
have been described as "rogue elements" in the west. There is good reason, however,
to accept Bishop Belo's assignment of direct responsibility to General Wiranto. It
appears that the militias have been managed by elite units of Kopassus, the "crack
special forces unit" that had "been training regularly with US and Australian forces
until their behaviour became too much of an embarrassment for their foreign friends".
These forces adopted the tactics of the US Phoenix programme in the Vietnam
war, which killed tens of thousands of peasants and much of the indigenous South
Vietnamese leadership, as well as "the tactics employed by the Contras" in Nicaragua.
The state terrorists were "not simply going after the most radical pro-independence
people, but... the moderates, the people who have influence in their community."
Well before the referendum, the commander of the Indonesian military in Dili,
Colonel Tono Suratman, warned of what was to come: "If the pro-independents do
win... all will be destroyed. It will be worse than 23 years ago". An army document of
early May, when international agreement on the referendum was reached, ordered
"massacres should be carried out from village to village after the announcement of the
ballot if the pro-independence supporters win". The independence movement "should
be eliminated from its leadership down to its roots".
Citing diplomatic, church and militia sources, the Australian press reported
that "hundreds of modern assault rifles, grenades and mortars are being stockpiled,
ready for use if the autonomy option is rejected at the ballot box".
All of this was understood by Indonesia's "foreign friends", who also knew
how to bring the terror to an end, but preferred evasive and ambiguous reactions that
the Indonesian generals could easily interpret as a "green light" to carry out their work.
The sordid history must be viewed against the background of US-Indonesia
relations in the postwar era. The rich resources of the archipelago, and its critical
strategic location, guaranteed it a central role in US global planning. These factors lie
behind US efforts 40 years ago to dismantle Indonesia, perceived as too independent
and too democratic - even permitting participation of the poor peasants. These factors
account for western support for the regime of killers and torturers who emerged from
the 1965 coup.
Their achievements were seen as a vindication of Washington's wars in
Indochina, motivated in large part by concerns that the "virus" of independent
nationalism might "infect" Indonesia, to use Kissinger-like rhetoric.
The recent convulsions inside Indonesia - with its people finally crying for
freedom and democracy - and the Nobel Peace Prize of 1996 - shared between Bishop
Belo, a dominican supporting the Maubere people in Dili, and Jose Ramos Horta, a
politician and activist who represents the Resistance historic leader, Xanana Gusmao,
imprisioned in Indonesia for a 20-year sentence - have brought a new hope to the fight
of this martyr people. Also, economic crisis hitting south-east Asia has shaken the
dictatorship in Jakarta more than ever. The winds of change blowing throughout
Indonesia started to hit East Timor...
Introduction to Indonesia Indonesia is the country with the more of Muslims in the world which means
87 per cent of 180 million habitants. Nevertheless, the major part of the declared
Muslims mix their faith in Allah with animistic or Hindu-Buddhist beliefs. These are
reminiscences of the Indian colonization that would be interrupted with the
penetration of Islam in the 16th century, generally superficial and incomplete.
Due to the insular configuration, composed by 13 677 islands, 3 000 inhabited,
and with an approximate extension of 1/8 the perimeter of Earth, Indonesia faces
problems of national unity. Being the fifth most populous nation, 2/3 are concentrated
in only the fifth larger island, Java, where the density is one of the highest. The
solution passes inevitably by birth control and transmigration to territories such as
Papua New Guinea, recently East Timor but also in between with the evident purpose
of dissolving local cultures in the predominant Javanese which is only one amongst
360 tribal and ethno-linguistic groups and more than 250 different languages and
The Dutch colonial domain had been massively based in Java, with the rest of
the archipelago had developed very unequally. From the rigid Islamic areas of North
Sumatra to the tribes of Borneo or the Christian islands of the east, a variety of
economic and social systems experienced very distinct problems for their progress.
Independence of Indonesia and Sukarno At the time of Indonesia's proclamation of independence in 1945, President
Sukarno defined an ideological base for the state -- the "Panca sila" (meaning "five
virtues") -- to be followed by all citizens and sworn by the social organizations. Main
principles imposed were the adoption of Indonesian "Bahasa" language and the
acceptance of one among five religions -- Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism,
Hinduism and Buddhism -- forbidding the animist cults and other traditional practices.
Thus "Panca sila" was assumed as an instrument of governmental control and a mean
to javanize the diverse cultures.
But not without much internal opposition. Illuded with the possibility of the
creation of an official Islamic state, when Suharto reached to power, Communist
administrators and Islamic movements supported the Revolution, but what they didn't
expect was the minor concessions offered, and once annihilated the Communist Party,
an “important preoccupation of the government has been to control, domesticate or
destroy the most orthodox and active Muslim factions” (Prof. A. Barbedo de
Magalhгes, Oporto University). Since then they oftenly erupt in riots against the
military aristocracy, basically syncretic in matter of religion.
Besides reaffirming the "Panca sila", in 1982 Suharto introduced the Law of
the Associations which would fasten the strain on political, religious and social
associations as it increased the powers of the administration to dismiss or impute
directors to the aggregations, to destroy or agglutinate them in others more vast and
controlled by the militaries.
Social and Political instability is patent in public insurrections in favor of
democracy, which in September of 1984 culminated with the killing of 60 Muslims
and imprisonment of important personalities such as of former governors that defied
an inquiry to the incident.
Neo-colonialism in Indonesia? Many authors mention that Sukarno had a
dream: the formation of a great Indonesia comprising the totality of the ancient Dutch
East Indies, inclusive the non-Indonesian population. For this reason had he
renounced to the federate structures initially conceived for the creation of the United
States of Indonesia -- thus betraying the agreement with the Dutch for the transfer of
sovereignty --, in favor of an unitary constitution, although still provisional. The new
direction was taken in August of 1950, three months after an unilateral declaration of
independence by the South Moluccas.
The first elections, free and democratic in fact, would be held in 1955, but
disputed by more or less 170 parties! Their differences naturally brought difficulties to
the functioning of the parliamentary democracy. On one hand, between the exponents
of pre-Islamic syncretism of the "Nahdatul Ulama" (NU) and the orthodox Moslems
of the "Masyumi", which's vital strength came from the outside -- West Sumatra and
North Celebes besides Occidental Java (Sundanese ethnic origin). On the other hand,
between the Nationalist Party (PNI) and the Communist Party (PKI), based in Java,
and these with the Moslems.
The inefficiency of the administration, which passed through seven
governments since 1949 to '57, and the rivalry engaged by the parties alone, in
contrast with the heroism of the Revolution of August 17th, after all, the concentration
of decision and power in Java as restrictor of the economic, social and cultural
development aroused at the end tension in the exterior islands.
In February of 1957, Sukarno criticized the Western liberal democracy because
unadapted to Indonesian particularity. He interfered more in the constitutional
processes and appeals to his concept of "Guided Democracy", founded on indigenous
procedures: the important questions should be decided through prolonged
deliberations ("musyawarah") in order to obtain consensus ("mukafat"). This was the
practice in the village and the same model ought to be adopted for the nation. Sukarno
proposed a government formed by the four main parties and a national council
represented by parties and functional groups in which, under the guidance of the
president (himself), consensus would express itself.
In spite of the charisma gained by Sukarno as father of the country and mentor
of the principle "unity in diversity", he was unable to avoid the proclamations of the
martial law in March of 1957 as a response to the regional dissidences which reached
At the end of the year a further set-back was brought by the defeat of a motion
for the renewal of negotiations concerning the destiny of West New Guinea. In a
series of direct actions across the country, Dutch property was seized with the
Indonesian government taking over. In the beginning of 1958 West Sumatra claimed
for the constitution of a new central government under the leadership of Hatta, a
moderate and historic figure of the Revolution, from the start vice-president of
Sukarno up until two years ago when he resigned because disagreeing with his policy.
Ignored the appeal of the Sumatrese a new revolutionary government was formed,
supported by leaders of the Masyumi Party, including the ex-Prime Ministers Natsir
(September 1950 -- March '51) and Harahap (August '55 -- March '56). The military
commandant of the North Celebes joined the initiative, yet most striking was CIA's
assistance with armament including aircrafts.
Suppression of the revolt was nevertheless soon accomplished, and with the
regions undermined, the parties discredited and the prestige of the victorious army
elevated, Sukarno resumed the idea of Guided Democracy in partnership with the
military. Meanwhile, the army chief of staff A. Nasution had committed himself to the
thought that the return to the revolutionary constitution of 1945 (presidential-type)
would offer the best means for implementing the principles of deliberation, consensus
and functional representation. Sukarno urged this course in a speech to the Constituent
Assembly, elected in 1955 to draft a permanent constitution. Despite failing the
approval of the necessary two-thirds for majority, he introduced it through a
presidential decree of dubious legality.
Indonesia's domestic as well as foreign diplomacy is difficult to conceive in
terms other than in the context of neo-colonialism. It certainly is incompatible with
the spirit of the Afro-Asian Conference of Bandung held in Java, in 1955. Among
twenty nine countries consensus was reached in order to condemn colonialism “in all
it's forms of manifestation”. As it seems, imperialism isn't condemnable so long the
territories comes from an ancient colony. Like the annexation of the Moluccan islands
(1950-52) and in 1969 the also former Dutch West New Guinea, long pretended. The
last was integrated after an Act of Free Choice sanctioned by UN. In truth, many
journalists and observers would consider the process orchestrated but it had already
been sealed. Today it is remembered as perhaps the most unfortunate episode UN's
In both regions, as well as in other islands of the Pacific, population claim
Melanesian ancestrality, not identifying themselves with Indonesia, predominantly
The country has always been tormented by regional rebellions. From the
perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalist movements, even in Java (where in the district
of Acheh, a Moslem state practically subsisted between 1948 and 1962), Sumatra and
Celebes as we've seen but also Kalimantan, to those involving Christian groups as in
the South Moluccas. Still in 1984 the Movement for the Liberation of Papua erupted
in attacks against the main cities of the territory, hoisting their flag in the capital
opposite to the Regional Parliament.
The power of Sukarno depended along the years of the preservation of the
equilibrium between the army and the Communist Party (PKI). The period assisted to
the crescent popularity of the communists due to the consistent protection moved by
the President in face of the incursions of the militaries. he opposed to the prohibitions
of congresses and editorials, banished political organizations patronized by the
military to blacken the PKI, placing some of their militants in political posts. Many
analysts think that Sukarno was preparing the path for the rise of the communists to
the power. Others say that his action intended to assure a the permanently threatened
The coup of Suharto and the military. On the night of September 30, 1965, a
group of subaltern officials based at Halim Air Base attempted a coup d'йtat to
anticipate what they alleged to be the take-over of a pro-Western council of generals.
But by following morning the Strategic Reserve of the Army Forces (KOSTRAD),
commanded by Suharto, had concluded a successful counter-attack. For specialist
Benedict Anderson, of Cornell University, it seems odd that Suharto, who would
gather the reins of power into his hands, hadn't been aimed at by the "30th of
September Movement" which assassinated six army generals (while a seventh, A.
With propaganda that implicated important nationalist and communist
politicians in the first stroke and the estimulation of the widely spread resentment of
the pro-Chinese PKI was object of among the Indonesian Islamic groups, the
militaries gradually assumed power. Suharto begun to maintain the already wasted and
sickened Sukarno in a fictional presidency, as a symbol of national unity until by
decree emptying his legal authority, in March 11, 1966. The next semester would be
fatal for more than half a million Chinese and Indonesian besides an excess of 200
thousand political prisoners which altogether formed one of the greatest Communist
parties of the World. The wave of hysteria was such that they were pointed out and
oftenly even executed by their proper neighbor civilians in the villages.
Formation of East-Timorese political associations During Portuguese dictatorship, civilians were prohibited to gather for political
discussions. But since the 60's an educated elite with nationalist aspirations begun to
reune clandistinely and vehicle some principles in catholic press. Three weeks after
the democratic Revolution, formation of political associations was incentivated, in the
process of decolonization. Immediatly UDT was founded, wanting to prolong
Portugal's presence in view of a progressive autonomy. ASDT, future Fretilin, called
for radical independence, while Apodeti, supported by Indonesia, for the integration of
East Timor in the neighbour power.
Although the changes acrossing the metropolis were of little immediate effect
in the rural society, they had profound impact among the elites of East Timor,
particularly in the administrator sectors, centered in the cities and specially in Dili
They polarized the opposition to certain aspects of the Portuguese rule.
Since the 60s, an educated elite with nationalist aspirations began to emerge,
often product of the catholic schools and particularly from the seminaries of Dare
(outside Dili) and S. Jose in the colony of Macao. Discussions involved small groups
of students and administrators that gathered clandestinely in the capital. The main
escapes of their ideas were catholic publications of reduced circulation like Seara,
which was closed down by the political police PIDE.
The conclusions reached are considered general and vagrant. Subjects like
traditional marriage and the educational system were debated but not much was
proposed as a global critic and alternatives.
Anyhow, this collective of student-administrators and higher level bureaucrats,
as well as important rural proprietors would constitute the basis of the two main
political parties: UDT and ASDT/Fretilin.
Three weeks after the Revolution 25th of April, the Governor of East Timor
created the Commission for the Autodetermination which's intentions were to bring
out to legality all the incipient political associations.
The parties UDT (Timor Democratic Union). This became the first party, was also the
most popular for some months. The initial declaration, of May 11th, made apology of
democratic principles, distribution of revenues and, the fulcral aspect, a progressive
autonomy materialized with an increasing participation of the Timorese but always in
the light of the Portuguese flag, to culminate with the integration of East Timor in a
Portuguese language community. The political platform as conceived by first
president Mбrio Carrascalгo was to hold Portugal's presence as far as possible without
putting aside the option for independence. But although having presented a cohesive
front at start, the course of events in the months followed would evidence different
susceptibilities towards a same problem.
Firmly based on two groups, the higher positioned administrator elite and the
larger proprietors of coffee plantations. UDT accounted still the favours of many suco
liurais, although the majority of these belonged to the circle of the imposed chiefs, in
an ancient practice of the colonial government to substitute the legitimate when less
malleable... They used their influence to gain support for the party in the countryside
managing strong implantation in areas like Liquie, Maubara, Maubisse, Ainaro,
While a group of conservatives were granted support by traditional chiefs and
administrators -- whose positions and privileges under Portuguese rule made them
emphasize a continuation with the metropolis --, those with commercial
preoccupations of economical diversification beyond the Portuguese orbit focused on
the advantages of independence.
Not until 27 of July did the MFA in Lisbon determine the new orientation in
relation with the colonial territories. By it, the Timorese were officially and for the
first time confronted with the possibility of independence.
In a message to the Portuguese President, UDT still inquired about the
viability of federation, but no further elucidation was obtained. Few days later, UDT
published the provisional statutes where preconized autodetermination oriented to
federation with Portugal, with an intermediate phase for obtention of independence,
and rejecting integration in any potential foreign country. It is probable that the
discouragement of a definite bind with Portugal had also to do with the winds of
independence that blew from the ancient metropolis. Spreading throughout the
African colonies, in East Timor it influenced a crescent opposing party of independist
militancy that defied UDT's hesitations: ASDT.
Amongst UDT founders pontificated the mentioned Mario Carrascalгo,
proprietor of coffee plantations, director of the Agriculture Services, and also former
leader of caetanist party ANP (Popular National Association), the only one allowed.
Ex-seminarist Lopes da Cruz was too a ANP member and director of Timor's journal,
A Voz de Timor, patronized by the government. He and intellectual Domingos de
Oliveira were custom officials. Cesar Mouzinho was Mayor of Dili.
ASDT/Fretilin (Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor). The plan of
ASDT was acknowledged in the proper day of it's foundation, 20th of May. Adopting
the doctrines of socialism and democracy it called upfront for a gradual independence
preceded of administrator, economical, social and political reforms. Three to eight
years was the period of transition considered necessary. And from the beginning with
the participation of the Timorese in the administration.
In the majority, ASDT was constituted with recent recruited members of the
urbane elites, mainly those living in Dнli, which maintained the link to the rural areas
of where they came from. Some were even descendants of liurai families.
With an average age under 30, the elder Xavier do Amaral, of 37, became
ASDT's chairman. The leaders were commited to nationalism and reaffirmation of the
Timorese culture, agreed on the priority of agricultural development, on
alphabetization and extensive health programmes. But furthermore, the political
perspectives deferred. The dominating tendency between the founders of ASDT was
clearly social-democratic, represented by men like journalist Ramos-Horta,
administrator Alarico Fernandes, Justino Mota and former professor Xavier do
Amaral. Ramos-Horta says that for him and the majority of his colleagues it
represented social justice, equitative distribution of the country's wealth, a mixed
economy and a parliamentary system with extended democratic liberties. As to what
extent did they have a model, sociologist John G. Taylor mentions the
social-democracy of the 60 and 70's in Austria and Scandinavia. Anyway it wasn't
experimented, as the urgency to gain internal and foreign support seems to have kept
on depriving the opportunity.
Still during the ASDT period, a secondary current leaded by ancient sergeant
and administrator, also ex-seminarist, Nicolau Lobato, “combined a fervent
anticolonial nationalism with notions of economical and political development
self-reliance based upon the experiences of Angola and Mozambique”. His ideas
would begin to prevail after the transformation of ASDT into FRETILIN.
Apodeti (Timorese Popular Democratic Association). In 25 of May a third
party appeared under the designation of Association for the Integration of Timor in
Indonesia. Renamed Apodeti, the manifesto of the party defended an integration with
autonomy in the Republic of Indonesia in accordance to the International Law and
principles such as the obligatory teaching of the Indonesian language (Indonesian
Bahasa), free education and medical assistance, and the right to go on strike.
The visionaries of Apodeti parted from the assumption that Portugal would
abandon East Timor and that the idea of independence couldn't stand a chance because
of Indonesia. In reality, the revindication of autonomy in a process of integration
appeared more as a popular measure and than as a political stand.
It has been written that in the beginning of the 60's, BAKIN (military
co-ordinator agency of the secret intelligence INTEL), mounted a net in East Timor
which dealed with merchants, custom-house functionaries and agents from the
Indonesian consulate of Dili, in change of favours, payments and refuge in case of
conflict. Among them, those who would become the prominent leaders of Apodeti:
professor and administrator Osуrio Soares, liurai of Atsabe (near the boarder of
Indonesian Timor) Guilherme Gonzalves, and cattle breeder Arnaldo dos Reis Arajo.
Still before the Portuguese Revolution, BAKIN had trained East-timoreses in
radio transmissions and as interpreters.
Nevertheless, while UDT and ASDT/Fretilin rapidly reached to the thousands
of adepts, Apodeti wouldn't reach more than a couple of hundreds during the whole
year of '74.
The support came mainly from the sucos of Guilherme Atsabe and a small
Muslim community of Dili. Besides this it had no expression. The dubious
personalities of it's leaders, all with criminal record and their political purposes made
Apodeti in the words of East Timor's last governor, J. Lemos Pires “an enclosed
organization, with difficulties to dialogue with the people and government even worse
with the opponent parties”. Fretilin considered Apodeti illegal.
Three minor parties appeared, all more or less insignificant. The KOTA
(Klibur Oan Timur Aswain), meaning "sons of the mountain warriors", was filiated in
the Popular Monarchical Party of the metropolis. Remounting it's origins to the
Topasses (see Ethnology of the Timorese), KOTA postulated the restoration of
powers to the liurais who could trace their ancestrality back to the Topasse period in
order to constitute a democratic monarchy, with the king to be elected amongst the
liurais. Like KOTA, the Timorese Democratic Labour Movement hadn't a programme
and agrouped only eight members, all from the same family. They wished to mobilize
the working class. The Democratic Association for the integration of East Timor in
Australia received money for promises of integration in Australia. It's existence was
ephemerous because the Australian government departed from the idea even before
the end of 1974.
Of these parties, KOTA and the Labour party were further mentioned and
precisely by the Indonesian authorities with the sole purpose to evoke that four of the
five parties, which they alleged that was the majority of the East-timorese, had
petitioned for integration during the Civil War
On 15 September the United Nations Security Council unanimously authorised
the establishment of a multinational force in Timor (UNSCR 1264). The resolution
gives the force three tasks for its mandate: first, to restore peace and security to East
Timor; second to protect and support the United Nations Mission in East Timor and;
third, to facilitate within force capabilities humanitarian assistance operations in East
Timor. The multinational force is commanded by Australia’s Major General Peter
Australian support The multinational force has been authorised by the United Nations Security
Council, under chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, to use all necessary
measures to achieve its mandate. The multinational force would prepare the ground
for the United Nations to complete its task of managing East Timor's transition to
independence. This will involve the arrival as soon as possible of a fully-fledged blue
helmet UN peacekeeping operation and the establishment of a UN transitional
Australian support for peacekeeping operations is not something new –
Bougainville is but one ongoing example. But the East Timor operation – multilateral
in scope, strongly representing South East Asia, led by Australia and conducted under
a United Nations Chapter VII or peace enforcement mandate – is of a very different
nature. This is the first time that Australia has been asked by the United Nations to
build and lead a multinational force and to provide the largest single component.
When Australia’s deployment was at full strength, it had committed 4,500 troops.
Australian involvement in the East Timor crisis is not motivated by any desire
to cause difficulties in relations between Australia and Indonesia. It is important that
Australia is in East Timor at the request of the United Nations and with the agreement
of the Indonesian Government. It was in Australia’s vital interests that Indonesia be a
peaceful, stable and democratic state, economically prosperous and playing a leading
and respected role in the region. It was also in Indonesia’s own interests to ensure East
Timor’s transition is a peaceful and orderly one. Australia’s efforts in building the
relations with Indonesia were directed to that outcome.
With respect to defence relations, it is in australian security interests to have
links such as defence attache representation, high-level strategic talks, staff college
courses, maritime surveillance and disaster relief exercises. Such contacts are
necessary to achieve the objectives in East Timor, and are desirable because defence
links will be part of any effective long-term relationship with Indonesia. That decision
shows the challenges Jakarta and Canberra face in maintaining a working defence
relationship that supports the long-term national and strategic interests of both
Prime Minister Howard has said that “the deployment of Australian troops to
East Timor meets the test of national interest in two respects. First, in the spirit of
Australia's military tradition, troops are going to defend what Australian society
believes to be right. The troops are not going to occupy territory, to impose the will of
Australia on others or to act against the legitimate interests of another country. Rather,
they go to East Timor at the request of the United Nations and with the agreement of
the Indonesian government. INTERFET troops are defending East Timor’s desire for
independence, as delivered in a free vote granted to them by the Indonesian
Government and with the blessing of the international community. In addition,
INTERFET troops will facilitate the humanitarian relief that is so desperately needed
for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people in East Timor.
Second, Australian troops in East Timor will work to put an end to the terrible
violence that prevailed immediately after the result of the ballot was announced. Apart
from the human cost, the scale of violence we witnessed undermines Australia's own
interest in a stable region. The troops will prepare the way for the United Nations to
undertake the vital task of developing a transitional political and administrative
framework for East Timor. For East Timorese, this offers the hope of reconciliation
among groups that have fought each other for decades and the opportunity to create
their own future. They have a responsibility to come to grips with these issues. For
Indonesia, it will more readily be able to concentrate on its nation building task, with
the full support of the international community.”
USA admits Timorese right to self-determination On a letter to Senator Russel Feingold, dated December 27th, 1996, U.S.
President Bill Clinton recognized, for the first time, that he "noted with interest your
[a group of 15 U.S. Senators] support of a UN-sponsored self-determination
referendum in East Timor".
Indonesia admits independence For the first time in 23 years, Indonesia has admitted the right of the Timorese
people to indepence. Last January, on the eve of another high-level bilateral summit
on East Timor between the Portuguese and Indonesian Foreign Ministers, at the
United Nations' headquarters in New Yourk, the Indonesian authorities stated that if
the East Timorese rejected the current authonomy plan offered by Indonesia, the
central government in Jakarta would be ready to let them separate from their invadors.
Only a couple of weeks later, president B.J. Habibie announced, at a meeting
with indonesian businessmen at the Chamber of Commerce, that by January 1st, 2000
the problem of East Timor would be 'fixed': either the Timorese accepted the
"large-scale authonomy" proposed by the Indonesian government in New York
(August 5th, 1998), or Indonesia "would wave them goodbye". It was the first time the
Indonesian authorities openly talked of independence for East Timor.
Meanwhile, the situation on the territory has worsened in the last months,
followin the alleged massacre at Alas (south of Dili) last December, when as much as
52 people would have been killed. The military (18,000 soldiers currently serve in the
occupied territory, according to intelligence data smuggled out of East Timor by a
dicident officer - that is, 1 for each 40 East Timorese, or proportionally 7 times more
than in the rest of Indonesia) have been arming civilian militia, in what international
observers consider to be a move aimed at starting a civil war on the verge of
Agreement Between the Republic of Indonesia and the Portugese
Republic on the Question of East Timor The Governments of Indonesia and Portugal, recalling General Assembly
resolutions and the relevant resolutions and decisions adopted by the Security Council
and the General Assembly on the question of East Timor; bearing in mind the
sustained efforts of the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal since July 1983,
through the good offices of the Secretary-General, to find a just, comprehensive and
internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor; recalling the
agreement of 5 August 1998 to undertake, under the auspices of the
Secretary-General, negotiations on a special status based on a wide-ranging autonomy
for East Timor without prejudice to the positions of principle of the respective
Governments on the final status of East Timor; having discussed a constitutional
framework for an autonomy for East Timor on the basis of a draft presented by the
United Nations, as amended by the Indonesian Government; noting the position of the
Government of Indonesia that the proposed special autonomy should be implemented
only as an end solution to the question of East Timor with full recognition of
Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor; noting the position of the Government of
Portugal that an autonomy regime should be transitional, not requiring recognition of
Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor or the removal of East Timor from the list of
Non-Self-Governing Territories of the General Assembly, pending a final decision on
the status of East Timor by the East Timorese people through an act of
self-determination under United Notions auspices; taking into account that although
the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal each have their positions of principle on
the prepared proposal for special autonomy, both agree that it is essential to move the
peace process forward, and that therefore, the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal
agree that the Secretary-General should consult the East Timorese people on the
constitutional framework for autonomy attached hereto as an annex; bearing in mind
that the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal requested the Secretary-General to
devise the method and procedures for the popular consultation through a direct, secret
and universal ballot signed up in New York on this 5th day of May, 1999 the
Agreement Between the Republic of Indonesia and the Portugese Republic on the
Question of East Timor
“Article 1 Request the Secretary-General to put the attached proposed constitutional
framework providing for a special autonomy for East Timor within the unitary
Republic of Indonesia to the East Timorese people, both inside and outside East
Timor, for their consideration and acceptance or rejection through a popular
consultation on the basis of a direct, secret and universal ballot.
Article 2 Request the Secretary-General to establish, immediately after the signing of
this Agreement, an appropriate United Nations mission in East Timor to enable him
to effectively carry out the popular consultation.
Article 3 The Government of Indonesia will be responsible for maintaining peace and
security in East Timor in order to ensure that the popular consultation is carried out
in a fair and peaceful way in an atmosphere free of intimidation, violence or
interference from any side.
Article 4 Request the Secretary-General to report the result of the popular
consultation to the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as to inform
the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal and the East Timorese people.
Article 5 If the Secretary-General determines, on the basis of the result of the popular
consultation and in accordance with this Agreement, that, the proposed constitutional
framework for special autonomy is acceptable to the East Timorese people, the
Government of Indonesia shall initiate the constitutional measures necessary for the
implementation of the constitutional framework, and the Government of Portugal
shall initiate within the United Nations the procedures necessary for the removal of
East Timor from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the General Assembly
and the deletion of the question of East Timor from the agendas of the Security
Council and the General Assembly.
Article 6 If the Secretary-General determines, on the basis of the result of the popular
consultation and in accordance with this Agreement, that the proposed constitutional
framework for special autonomy is not acceptable to the East Timorese people, the
Government of Indonesia shall take the constitutional steps necessary to terminate its
links with East Timor thus restoring under Indonesian law the status East Timor held
prior to 17 July 1976, and the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal and the
Secretary-General shall agree on arrangements for a peaceful and orderly transfer of
authority in East Timor to the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall, subject to
the appropriate legislative mandate, initiate the procedure enabling East Timor to
begin a process of transition towards independence.
Article 7 During the interim period between the conclusion of the popular
consultation and the start of the implementation of either option, the parties request
the Secretary-General to maintain an adequate United Nations presence in East
Conclusion On August, 30th, History was written in East Timor: 98.6% of registered
voters exercised their democratic right in a UN-organised referendum, considered by
the Indonesian authorities as "free and fair". Defying eight months of intimidation by
indonesian-armed militiamen, mostly transmigrated from West Timor, the population
stood in long queues at the ballot sites, in some cases waiting hours in the sun after
walking kilometres to the nearest polling station.
Hardly anybody partied in Dili, though, or in the rest of the territory;
celebrations were held abroad, though, in Australia, Portugal, the United States,
Ireland, England, Mozambique, even Indonesia, wherever a Timorese community is to
be found. But inside the new Nation, just four hours after the official announcement,
the defeated militia gangs started to set East Timor on fire. BBC, CNN, and other
international TV stations broadcasted to the world images once seen in other war
scenarios - fire of automatic weapons, houses set on fire, innocent civilians seeking
shelter in the schools, the churches, the neighbouring mountains. International media
reports mentioned 145 deaths in Dili only, in the 48 hours following the
announcement. On September, 5th and 6th, most international observers, journalists
and the civilian personnel of UNAMET were evacuated from the territory, either by
chartered planes or the Australian Air Force. On the afternoon of September, the 5th,
four indonesian ministers - including Defence and Foreign Affairs holders, General
Wiranto and Mr. Ali Alatas - and one secretary of State paid a 4-hour visit to Dili -
though they never left the airport "for security reasons".
On the evening of that same day, the UN Security Council, gathered on an
emergency meeting in New York, once more abstained from sending in a
peace-keeping force. The Indonesian authorities claimed to be able to restore peace
and tranquility, though 20.000 men already stationed in the territory failed to do so
until now, and were even reported to have participated, in some cases directly, in the
new mass killings started on September, 4th. TV, photographic and oral evidence
from UNAMET staff and international media wasn't enough, so the Council decided
to send a "fact-finding mission" to Jakarta.
On the morning of September, the 6th, the home of Nobel Peace Prize winner,
Ximenes Belo, was set on fire. The bishop seaked refugee in Baucau, though he was
impotent to save the hundreds of refugees in his frontyard, now facing death or
deportation to West Timor, like so many before them. More than 1,000 refugees were
sheltered at the UNAMET compound in Dili, and the UN convoys were shot at in the
road to the airport.
Despite several United Nations Resolutions on the right of the Timorese to
self-determination (the UN has never recognized the indonesian annexation of the
territory), the international community has been blind to the fight of its inhabitants.
Only since November 12th, 1991, when more than 250 youngsters were killed during
a brutal massacre occurred in a cematery in Dili (the capital city of East Timor), have
the "civilized" nations condemned Indonesia in a more consistent way. But words of
condemnation sound empty when the same countries sell arms to the regime (a
dictatorship ruling Indonesia for decades), and strengthen the economic ties binding
European and American states to Jakarta.
The five days which mediated until official results were announced were days
of tension, with frequent militia attacks in Dili and other spots in the territory. But on
the morning of September, 4th, UNAMET (United Nations Assistance Mission to
East Timor) leader Ian Martin announced the results, minutes after the United Nations'
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, had done the same in New York: 21.5% of the voters
had chosen to accept the Special Autonomy offered to the territory by Indonesia, while
an overwhelming majority of 78.5% reffused it, thus laying the path to independence.
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