Back     Index             East Timor’s sad history.-                   

       In the 16th century Portugal invaded East Timor, the Dutch having already occupied the West. The Portuguese came for the valuable timber such as sandalwood and for slaves. On the bright side they also brought Christianity and eventually civilisation. The Catholic Church has been instrumental in helping the Timorese survive years of oppression and human rites abuses. Although there was some opposition to the occupation by the Portuguese resulting in many deaths, East Timor’s troubles really began during the Second World War.

     The Timorese assisted Australian soldiers from the advancing Japanese. After Australia’s retreat, warplanes dropped notes telling the Timorese that Australia ‘Owed them’. This only served to infuriate the Japanese who punished them by murdering some 50,000 defenceless villagers.

     In April 1974 the newly democratic Portugal decided to shed its colonies and abandoned East Timor, which then descended into factional in-fighting between rival political groups, some backed by Indonesia. On Dec. 7, 1975 Indonesia launched a full-scale invasion with blessings from Australia and the US, for the excuse that it was necessary to prevent communist takeover. Over subsequent years, as Indonesia’s military tried to assert control some 200,000 Timorese were killed or died from famine.

      In May 1999, following a series of United Nations backed talks Indonesia and Portugal signed an agreement to allow East Timorese to vote on their future. The United Nations promised to administer the vote. But after the vote in favour of full independence the Indonesian militia went on a bloody rampage destroying much of the countries infrastructure and killing unknown numbers of Timorese. As world outrage grew Indonesia’s president Habibie was forced to allow an Australian-led international intervention force.

       April 2006, violence once again descended on East Timor when the unpopular government stirred trouble by sacking soldiers from the west, which was claimed had less rights than the East because of being pro-Indonesian during the occupation. Australian military was once again brought in to quell the violence, which is to now creating a humanitarian problem by displacing thousands of people.

        Currently the Australian and East Timor governments have signed an agreement to split the Timor Sea gas/oil royalties fifty/fifty. Although to date neither side of Australian politics can explain the Australian governments right to deny a maritime boundary and continually try and stall an international resolution which would otherwise place all the royalties in the hands of its rightful owners the East Timorese.

       On the bright side it should be noted that in the years since the war, Japan has given an enormous amount of aid to East Timor and should be commended for its generosity and desire to atone for the war years.

       In the East Timorese population it can be seen that there are three major ancestral influences. Indigenous, Portuguese and Chinese. The majority are very physically nice looking and very spiritual gentle people. They are also the second poorest country in the world. 



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