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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
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
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