Story: TWO YEARS AFTER THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY FOR THEIR INDEPENDENCE, THEY HOLD THEIR FIRST ELECTIONS TO CHOOSE A CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY
The people of East Timor went to the polls today in overwhelming numbers in their first nationwide elections to choose an assembly that will write the constitution for the world’s newest nation.
Two years ago the East Timorese voted in an historic U.N. supervised referendum for their independence after 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation.
As soon as the results of the vote were announced, however, Indonesian troops and their militia allies burnt East Timor to the ground, displaced virtually the entire population, and forced hundreds of thousands of people from the country. Tens of thousands remain in squalid refugee camps in West Timor.
Voters in the elections today will choose from 16 parties for an 88 member assembly that will write the country’s constitution in a just three months. East Timor will become independent sometime next year. The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, or Fretelin, is expected to dominate the balloting.
But East Timor is still far from being a truly independent country. 9,000 UN troops continue to occupy the territory. East Timor will celebrate its independence almost wholly dependent upon foreign aid. International agencies such as the World Bank and IMF are creating East Timor’s infrastructure almost from scratch, while foreigners already dominate the local economy, which caters to the army of well-paid UN workers and international aid staff who fill the grocery stores and the restaurants priced out of the reach of most East Timorese.
And more than two years after they destroyed East Timor and murdered hundreds, not a single Indonesian general has been brought to justice.
But after 400 years of Portuguese colonialism and Indonesian occupation, the people of East Timor are on their way to having their own country, poor but proud and free.
Jose Ramos Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Foreign Minister for East Timor
Joaquim Fonseca, with the East Timorese human rights group Yayasan Hak. He is an official observer of the election process, and has been an active part of the NGO working group on the constitution.
John Miller, Media and Outreach Coordinator for the East Timor Action Network, a grassroots organization working to support genuine self-determination for East Timor.
José Ramos-Horta Added June 12
* Mr Jose Ramos-Horta is an internationally-renowned spokesperson for the East Timorese cause. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for “sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of small people”.
* Mr Ramos-Horta has been a dynamic and determined advocate for a free and independent East Timor. From 1976 until 1989, he was the permanent representative of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente (FRETILIN) at the United Nations. He currently holds the position of Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs, United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.
Yayasan HAK - Foundation
of Law, Human Rights, and Justice Updated Sep 4
Human Rights, Advocacy and Community Organising
Yayasan HAK is a registered East Timorese non-government organization (ETNGO)
General Mission: Yayasan Hak has two primary functions: 1. Casework - representing victims and their families in court 2. Human rights advocacy work - monitoring, reporting and publicising human rights information, litigation
Short History: Yayasan Hak is a legal aid foundation set up in March 1997, co-funded by four funding agencies. It was established in order to provide a range of legal services for the people of East Timor.
Address: T-091 Gov. Serpa Rosa St., Farol, Dili - Timor Lorosae
Sep 3 YHak: Elections in the Context of Nation-Building: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01sepyhak.htm
Jul 24 YHak: Serious Concerns re Judicial Independence under UNTAET: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01julconcerns.htm
Jun 21 2000 YHak: Reconciliation from a Legal Perspective: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/earlyhak.htm
Tetum: Jun 21 2000 YHak: Rekonciliasaun Housi Lei Nia Roman Article http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/earlyhakt.htm
Timor Action Network U.S. Updated May 19
ETAN/US was founded following the November 1991 massacre. ETAN/US supports a genuine and peaceful transition to an independent East Timor. It also supports human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights, including women’s rights.
East Timor was invaded and subjugated by US ally Indonesia in 1975. East Timor chose independence in August 1999 and was soon destroyed by the Indonesian military. It is now administered by the UN.
ETAN/US provides a wide range of articles, news reports and press releases related to East Timor. ETAN has 28 local chapters. Email: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org Homepage: http://www.etan.org
East Timor info on the ETAN site is added daily.
BD: Peoples' Participation / Participação Dos Povos / Partisipasaun Politika - A collection of recent media releases, reports and articles