Monday, October 12, 2009

Timor-Leste, Towards Independence (contd-1)

The 1996 Nobel peace prize was one of the most highly political of all the peace prizes. Through this award The Norwegian Nobel Committee wanted Fillipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Committee Chairman Frnacis Sejersted declared. By awarding this prize, we hope to conribute to a diplomatic solution to the conflict in East Timor.

Bishop Belo was characterised as "the foremost representative of the people of East Timor,"

Ramos-Horta as the leading international spokesman for their cause. few have even heard of East Timor, the eastern half of a remote island at the very tip of the of the long strung-out Indonesian archepilago,much closer to Austrlia than to Indonesian capital Jakarta. Nor did the world take much note when in 1975 this former Portuguese colony, populated mostly by Catholics, was invaded and then annexed by its giant Moslem neighbour.
The media, at that time was occuppied with the news coming from Vietnam where just a few months earlier Saigon had fallen to the Vietcong.

But as the Chairman Sejersted pointed out in his speech at the award ceremony,"of a population of six and seven hundred thousand, nearly two hundred thousand people have died as the direct or indirect result of the Indonesian occupation and the violation of human rights are still taking place". Sejersted called this " an exceptionally brutal form of neo-colonialism" and said that " considerations of realpolitik" enabled it to take place.
Such considerations dominated the policy of United Statestoward Indonesia. In Dec. 1975,President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited jakarta at the end of their Asian tour, to reassure the friendly States Cold war policy to maintain a strong presence in the area. President Suharto of Indonesia persuaded his American guests that newly Independent East Timor must be prevented from becoming a communist "Cuba." The very day after they left, Indonesian armed forces moved against East Timor, slaughtering defenceless civilians, using weapons which had been supplied by the United Stateson condition that they were only used for self-defence.

Indinesian Archepilago