DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home
See source of statement:
See ETAN Menu: Current Crisis in
East Timor (2006): http://www.etan.org/et2006/may/crisis.htm
Statement by the East Timor and Indonesia Action
on the Current Violence in Timor-Leste
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668; (917) 690-4391 (cell)
May 27, 2006 - We have watched the unfolding situation in Timor-Leste
this past week with deep concern. We do not believe that events had to
escalate to this point. Like others, we do not have complete
information about the current situation and its causes. Below are our
The intervention by foreign military and police forces is a sad event
for Timor-Leste, whose hard-won political independence has had to be
laid aside we hope for only a short time because leaders
and state institutions have been unable to manage certain violent
elements of the population and security forces.
Now that foreign forces are being deployed -- at the request of
Timor-Leste's government, with the stated support of rebel leaders, and
the welcome by most of a terrified population -- we hope that they
serve their intended purpose in quelling the violence and allowing
negotiations and a peaceful resolution, as well as the identification
and arrest of those who have committed crimes.
Outside intervention is a temporary solution at best. Timor-Leste must
find ways, with respectful support from the international community, to
deal with problems in a manner that will not require troops.
Statements by Australian government leaders that providing security
assistance entitles them to influence over Timor-Leste’s government are
undemocratic, paternalistic, and unhelpful. Who governs Timor-Leste is
a decision to be made by its people within its constitution.
Key countries -- including those now sending troops and police -- must
examine their roles in relation to the new nation, including the
training provided to Timor-Leste’s security forces. Australia bears
special responsibility for Timor’s underdevelopment by refusing to
return revenues, totaling billions of dollars, from the disputed
petroleum fields in the Timor Sea, including Laminaria-Corallina, and
by bullying Timor-Leste into forsaking revenues that should rightfully
belong to it under current international law and practice. As in 1999,
we must not forget that the Australian government’s actions have
contributed to the situations their peacekeepers have now been sent to
correct. Australia should not view its current assistance to
Timor-Leste as a favor, to be repaid, but instead as a partial
repayment for the debt Australia owes the Timorese people for its help
during WW II and for Australia's deep complicity in Indonesia's
invasion and occupation.
Independent Timor-Leste had a violent birth. The legacy of Indonesian
occupation left the people of the new nation deeply traumatized and
impoverished, without governmental institutions and experience. Those
who orchestrated, implemented and aided the illegal occupation have
never been held accountable.
We wonder if international and Timorese failures to ensure justice have
led some in Timor-Leste to believe that their own use of violence would
be met with similar impunity. As described in the recent report of
Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation
(CAVR), several countries - among them U.S., U.K., and Australia - bear
a special responsibility to ensure justice and accountability due to
their action and inaction from 1975 on. Reparations, as called for by
the CAVR, would help alleviate the poverty and joblessness that have
fueled some of the unrest.
It must not be forgotten that despite its many problems, the transition
from occupation to UN administration to independence has been
relatively peaceful, especially when compared to the experiences of
many other post-colonial countries. We hope that the recent violence --
which appears to have complex causes -- proves to be an exception.
We urge the key political, security force and other actors in the
current crisis to evaluate their own actions and recommit themselves to
the spirit of national unity and public service, which so ably provided
the foundation for the independence movement. Timor-Leste needs to
examine whether or not it wants a military and, if so, what is its
purpose. In addition to addressing the past, the CAVR report provides
useful recommendations for implementing rule of law and improving
justice and accountability in independent Timor-Leste.
We urge the international community and the UN, especially the Security
Council, to work with Timor-Leste to complete the nation-building and
development tasks to which they have already committed. If Timor-Leste
is to become the success story it has already been portrayed as,
further international support is necessary. However, this support must
be given in an honest spirit that supports real self-determination and
empowers the Timorese people to take full charge of their own destiny.
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