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  East Timor Independence

East Timor Independence

East Timor Independence?

. 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


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 kaffirs.”

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 territory's leaders.

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 populations.

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 colonialism.

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 javanese.

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.

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