University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The History of East Timor
Timor is an island on the eastern side of the Indonesian archipelago and to the northwest of Australia. West Timor was a part of Indonesia and East Timor was a Portuguese controlled colony. East Timor was taken under the control of the Portuguese in the 1600s. They were in control until 1975. During 1942 the Japanese invaded East Timor whilst fighting the Australian troops. Around 60,000 East Timorese were killed for protecting the Australian troops. The Japanese were in control of East Timor until 1945. In 1975 on the 28th of November, the Fretilin declared East Timor as independent.
On the 5th of December that year the Indonesian forces invaded East Timor; claiming it as a province. The U. N. did not officially recognise the move by the Indonesians. The East Timorese tried to resist the Indonesian invasion, all attempts failed. While the invasion was happening 200,000 East Timorese died. The political climate in 1975 The fear of communism had spread throughout Asia at the Vietnam War. Many countries were afraid of it and the Indonesians accused the East Timorese of trying to become communist. The Indonesian military used this as a scare tactic for the rest of the world.
They claimed that they were only trying to keep East Timor under control. But really they just didn’t want them to become independent. The Australian government knew of the invasion but did nothing to help the East Timorese people. The Hawke government didn’t want to risk Indonesia making us enemies. At the time, the Indonesian government had military, political and economic support from countries such as the UK, USA and Australia. It is to be believed that these countries did not aid the East Timorese from the invasion for various reasons, such as the Timor gap, trading and cheap labour interests.
The impact of the invasion in 1975 and the future repercussions The invasion of the Indonesians left peoples homes destroyed, their family’s dead and their lives uprooted. Many refugees left East Timor in search of a peaceful new home. In August 1999, the 99% of the people of East Timor voted in a U. N referendum. Four days after the referendum the tally showed that 78% of the East Timorese voted for independence. A militia leader said it bluntly, “Peace? Why would we want peace? If the vote is for independence we’ll just kill—kill everybody. Within one week the Indonesian military-backed militia started a terror campaign. Women, children, but mostly men, boys, the educated, nuns, and priests were murdered. The Indonesian government was trying to make it so that East Timor didn’t have any educated people left. The capital, Dili, was set alight as people fled. Homes, churches and even the United Nations compound were attacked. Many refugees left for other Indonesian islands. The only safe places for the East Timorese were the four cantonments in the mountains that were held by the East Timorese armed resistance.
At some points in time there were said to be 200,000 to 300,000 refugees with up to 600,000 people displaced. The role of significant individuals Jose Ramos-Horta: Jose Ramos-Horta was born and raised in East Timor. In 1969 he worked as a journalist and in 1974 he was exiled to Mozambique after his attempts to make East Timor independent anger the colonial administration. When Jose Ramos-Horta returned to East Timor he joined the Fretilin in 1974. In October 1975, Jose Ramos-Horta took the group of five journalists to the town Balibo so they can film the Indonesian attack.
He left the town only hours before the five men were killed. On the 28th of November that year Jose Ramos-Horta was appointed as the Fretilin’s minister of communications and external affairs. Ramos-Horta had left just days before Indonesia invaded on the 7th of December. He was in New York representing East Timor to the UN Security Council. He successfully made a pass on the resolution demanding that Indonesia withdraw. But Indonesia ignored the UN. From 1977 until 1985 Jose Ramos-Horta became the representative of the Fretilin at the UN.
Jose spoke to many different councils, committees and commissions about the human rights violations by the Indonesian military. He had a peace plan that would end all the violence in his country. During his time in exile, he was trained in human rights law in Australia. In February 1996 Jose was awarded the first UMPO prize, Unrepresented National and Peoples Organisation, for his “unswerving commitment to the rights of and freedoms of threatened people” later on it that year Jose Ramos-Horta and Bishop Carlos Belo were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2006 Jose Ramos-Horta take a place in the government as caretaker prime minister after many hiccups with the previous government. In 2007 he stepped down from his position while the East Timor’s first presidential election was taking place. Jose won the election with 70% of the vote. Jose Ramos-Horta was shot by rebel soldiers in 2008 and was flown to Australia. He returned to East Timor 2 months later. He continued on as president until the 20th of May 2012. If those in power, wherever we are, whichever country but also at whatever level in society that we are leaders, began working together—we would eliminate abject poverty and ensure that poverty becomes history in twenty years from now. It’s a moral duty of any of us as human beings. ” The Balibo 5: In October 1975 five Australian journalists -Greg Shackleton, Tony Stewart, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie and Gary Cunningham- landed in East Timor. They travelled through East Timor filming the areas that they passed to show to the world. They were heading to a town called Balibo to film the Indonesian war ships of the coast of East Timor.
Indonesian forces killed the five men in Balibo. We don’t know how they were killed but many believe they were burnt along with the footage they had taken on their journey so far. The journalists were reported as missing on the 16th of October. On The 12th of November Indonesian officials, whom handed their remains to the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, confirmed their deaths. These men were important because they were trying to show the world what was really happening in East Timor, not the lies that the Indonesian government were making up.