Asia-Pacific

Apr 15, 2016

East Timor is mad as hell, and it’s our fault

The East Timorese may be poor, but they are not stupid. And we need to stop exploiting them, writes freelance journalist John Martinkus.

Jose Belo (left) and Commander David Alex (right) (Photo: John Martinkus)

12 comments

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12 thoughts on “East Timor is mad as hell, and it’s our fault

  1. Aphra

    Thanks for this article.

    Australia’s treatment of Timor Leste is one of the more shameful acts in our history.

    No body much seems to care, however.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    I care Aphra, and apart from turning a blind eye to massacres for ages, it was a great moment when John Howard reluctantly wandered into the mess, at US urging, and actually did something right.

    But then the zombie apocalypse in the form of Al Downer took away any chance of real sovereignty by stealing their reasonable claims about sovereignty over the Sunrise development, spying on them at the time.

    What has happened to Labor, have they finally found their soul?

    We can only hope.

  3. Woopwoop

    Was it at US urging? As I remember, there was a massive public outcry in Australia, which forced a reluctant Howard to ask Clinton for help in the UN.

  4. Woopwoop

    As here, from Noam Chomsky’s website:
    John Roosa, historian on Indonesia and official observer of the vote, described the situation starkly: “Given that the pogrom was so predictable, it was easily preventable… But in the weeks before the ballot, the Clinton Administration refused to discuss with Australia and other countries the formation (of an international force). Even after the violence erupted, the administration dithered for days” (2). Finally it was compelled by international (primarily Australian) and domestic pressure to make some timid gestures. Even these ambiguous messages sufficed to induce the Indonesian generals to reverse course and accept an international presence.

  5. AR

    [email protected] – “one of…” and we have quite a selection for comparison, our treatment of the Ellis/Gilbert Islands and other tiny entities in our region ranks with the French & other vicious colonials in sheer wicked exploitation.
    As others have noted above, Howard, inexplicably and contrary to his baser insitncts, did the right thing, no thanks to the US which, as in 1975 would have preferred the status quo.

  6. Norman Hanscombe

    Don’t ANY of the Crikey Fellow Travellers know how to find the background details to this problem? I found even the more mediocre students I encountered could manage to fo this far better than do Crikey’s Devotees.

  7. Jaybuoy

    The right to the resources of their country is in their spilt blood..

  8. klewso

    Another “Howard legacy” – the bugging (paid for by we tax-payers) and bullying of another country, on behalf of an Australian company (paying some tax) – the dregs of which haunt this government.

  9. AR

    To paraphrase from Iraq I & II, “how come our oil is under their seabed?”.

  10. Robert Johnson

    Howard had not planned to be seen as Timor’s saviour, but had wedged himself when Habibie reacted to his ‘Matignon Accord’ urging (by which Howard thought he was assisting Indonesia to have a quasi act of self-determination that would fail — or, in Howard’s reckoning, succeed — in putting an end to Timorese aspirations for independence). At least Howard seized the chance to do the right if unanticipated thing, even if he had little choice.

    Dog’s [email protected] — Downer certainly, but recall that, on the day of it’s independence celebrations in 2002, newly-installed PM Alkatiri was pressed by Howard into one formal duty only: taken into a room to sign his agreement to the Timor Sea treaty. An act of “you owe us, you need us, now sign here”.

    Good that Plibersek has steered through a position that has likely enjoyed majority support for years at ALP membership level.

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