East Timor

Over three days, starting on July 7, the students at the East Timor National University protested in opposition to the purchase of luxury cars for each parliament member. All up, the government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao arrested 53 students.
East Timor's foreign minister Zacarias Albano da Costa met with his Cuban counterpart Felipe Perez Roque in Havana where he thanked the country for its continuous support of East Timor, "even under the most difficult circumstances", according to a
DILI — A May Day rally was attended by some 700 workers, according to Mericio Akara. The rally was organised by the Trade Union Confederation of Timor-Leste and demanded the implementation of labour laws, just wages that comply with minimum wage
East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta was rushed to Darwin to undergo emergency surgery after being shot three times in a February 11 attack on his residence by armed rebels. The apparent leader of the assailants, Major Alfredo Reinado, was killed in the incident.
A group of Australian writers, academics, NGO workers and activists have written an open letter to incoming Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling for Australia to increase its development assistance to East Timor (see above).
Prime Minister of Australia Mr Kevin Rudd, MHR [also to other ministers] January 2008 Dear Prime Minister Re: Australian and Cuban education assistance to Timor Leste We the following academics, writers, organisations and NGO workers observe these developments, on education assistance to Timor Leste:
The following is an open letter to the United Nations Security Council calling for justice and human rights from its mission to Timor-Leste. To view the full list of signatories and sign the letter, visit .
In 1975, when Indonesia invaded East Timor, beginning a 24-year occupation that cost over 200,000 Timorese lives (over a third of the population), Australia’s support for this genocidal occupation was predicated on a policy outlined in the infamous “Woolcott telegram”: that Australia’s interest in East Timor was derived from the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.
Two thousand people rallied in the East Timorese capital of Dili on October 17 to demand food sovereignty for East Timor. The demonstration was the culmination of three days of activities to mark World Food Day.
Human rights activists from East Timor and Indonesia have slammed the latest round of the Indonesia-East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF), which began hearings in Dili on September 24. The CTF was established with the support of the Indonesian and East Timorese governments in 2005, with the aim of establishing the truth of the events of 1999 in East Timor, when a reign of terror by Indonesian military-backed militias occurred before and after a vote in favour of independence in the UN-supervised referendum. To achieve this, amnesty is offered to perpetrators of human rights abuses in exchange for their testimonies.
On September 12, the new East Timorese government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, tabled the Government Program for 2007-12. The coalition Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) believes the program will help alleviate poverty and resolve internal unrest and security issues. “Everything is urgent for this nation, [and] we are defining priorities for the short term”, Gusmao told parliament.
The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance, is now calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Australian troops from East Timor. A meeting of the DSP National Committee resolved to investigate the prospects for building a public campaign around this demand. Peter Boyle, the DSP’s national secretary, explained the reasons for this decision to Green Left Weekly
The outcome of Timor Leste’s parliamentary election could be seen as a political victory for former president, and now prime minister, Xanana Gusmao.
Former East Timorese prime minister Mari Alkatiri has called for the withdrawal of Australian troops from his country. Speaking to Agence France-Presse on August 20, he said: “It would be better for Australian troops to just return home if they cannot be neutral. They came here to help us solve our problems, but they came to give their backing to one side and fight against the other.”
On August 6, East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta appointed his predecessor, Xanana Gusmao, prime minister and asked him to form a government without Fretilin, the largest party in the parliament elected on June 30. Despite the constitutional legitimacy of this being unclear, Gusmao’s government was sworn in on August 8. Since Ramos Horta’s decision there have been outbreaks of rioting and arson, as well as protests that were tear-gassed by UN police and the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF).
East Timor: Beyond Independence
Edited by Damien Kingsbury and Michael Leach
Monash University Press, 2007
302pages, $36.95


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