[This letter was posted to the La’o Hamutuk Discussion list in response to the interview with George Aditjondro: Feb 2 JP: Aditjondro: ETimorese becoming guests in their own land BD]
I have just read George's interview very carefully and feel that as is to be expected from George, he has put his finger on some very worrying trends or developments in East Timor. The rapid influx of foreign capital interests is undeniable and has been spotted by many, but what is especially useful in his interview is his identifying Indonesian army-related companies who are now involved as well. This is the kind of Indonesia-ETimor collaboration that should certainly not be welcomed and that should be exposed.
Like him, I am impressed by the work of Indonesian activists in SAHE and Yayasan Hak and the efforts of SAHE in particular to push in the direction of self-reliance, going back in fact to the Fretilin strategy during 1974/75. But as he points out, they are confronting a powerfully resourced rival in the WB/IMF team which certainly seems to have the support of the emerging political elite in ET.
He is also correct in pointing to the dangers of the fact that this political elite largely consists of the diaspora leaders and offspring, which is already creating a cultural and well as class division between the country's future governing class and civil society. His warning of the role of language in exacerbating this division is very much to the point.
His suggestion that the UDT-PSD alliance might win the coming election sound pretty far-fetched to me. I really believe that if the elections are free and fair, the winners hands down will be Fretilin so what he should be doing is looking more closely at what a Fretilin-led govt is likely to do.
I think that in some respects, he is going too far and too fast. How well founded are his warnings of the unholy alliance - CNRT, UNTAET, foreign business? I also feel that his suggestion that FALINTIL will pursue a dwi-fungsi role is not borne out by current facts. Hasn't FALINTIL been hampered in playing its legitimate role as a defence force?
True, Horta and XG have gone back on their pledge not to have an armed force (not sure myself that XG made that pledge). But the decision to have an armed force must surely be correct, in face of the dangers ET confronts across the border in WTimor. It would be more to the point if he stressed the importance of the new ETDF being firmly under civilian leadership and control from the start. And why does he assume that it will have a position in the government? These are criticisms that strike me as being unwarranted and displaying a feeling of distrust in George about everything happening in the upper echelons of E Timorese society. This undermines the validity of so much else that he says in the interview.
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK.
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TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia and East Timor, 1973-2001
TAPOL - which means political prisoner in Indonesian - is a leading English language authority campaigning on the human rights situation in Indonesia and East Timor. Estab in 1973, TAPOL has depended on networking with organisations in Indonesia, with NGOs in the UK and with solidarity groups around the world. TAPOL produces the bi-monthly TAPOL Bulletin; occasional reports and briefing papers and other publications.
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La'o Hamutuk: East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
La'o Hamutuk (Tetum for Walking Together) is a joint East Timorese-international organization that seeks to monitor, to analyze, and to report on the reconstruction activities of the principal international institutions. It believes that the people of East Timor must be the ultimate decisionmakers in the reconstruction process and that the process should be as democratic and transparent as possible ...
East Timorese staff: Inès Martins, Benjamin Sanchez Afonso; International staff: Pamela Sexton, Mark Salzer Executive board: Sr. Maria Dias, Joseph Nevins, Fr. Jovito Rego de Jesus Araùjo, Aderito Soares
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Feb 2 JP: Aditjondro: ETimorese
becoming guests in their own land
"So fighting for democracy has been no less difficult than fighting for independence. The young, the women and the villagers feel the most marginalized; this is the new task of the solidarity movement (to help them) instead of just shaking hands with Xanana." George Junus Aditjondro