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Published:May 28th, 2006 08:13 EST

Violence in Timor- Leste leads to International Intervention

By Laurie Salem

Having been living with its hard won independence for so long, it must have been hard for the powers that be, for Timor Leste to accept the intervention by foreign military and police forces.  Outside help came because of Timor Leste's inability to control some of the violent elements of the population and security forces.

The deployment of foreign forces brings a sigh of relief from the Timor- Leste government as well as the horrified population. Hopefully, these forces will be able to extinguish the violence, and allow for negotiations, and capture all who are responsible. However, this assistance is only temporary. Timor- Leste must be able to handle and resolve conflicts without the constant assistance of troops.

What comes as a shocker in Timor's time of need are the undemocratic, paternalistic, and unhelpful comments made by the Australian government leaders. They claim that providing security assistance gives them the right to have influence over Timor Leste's government.

Timor is underdeveloped mainly because of Australia refusing to return revenues which totals billions of dollars, from the petroleum fields in the Timor Sea (including Laminara- Corallina) as well as forcing Timor to forfeit revenues that belong to it under present international law and practice.

Australia, having contributed in large to the present conflicts in Timor, should not treat its assistance as a debt, or favor to be repaid. Instead, it should be Australia's attempt to repay Timor for its help during WW II and for Australia's deep complicity in the invasion and occupation of Indonesia.

The birth of Timor- Leste was one of violence. The occupation of Indonesia left residents of the new nation terribly traumatized and impoverished, without governmental institutions and experience. No one has been held accountable for the orchestration, implementation, and aiding of this illegal occupation.

In the recent report of Timor- Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation (CAVR). Several countries (US, UK, and Australia among them) have a certain responsibility to ensure justice and accountability due to their action and inaction from 1975 on. CAVR believes that reparations would help in the elimination of poverty and unemployment that have fed fuel to the fire of this unrest and violence.
Despite its many problems, though, Timor's transition from occupation to UN administration to independence has been quite peaceful. This factor stands out when compared to other post colonial countries. Hopefully this recent violence, which appears quite complex in its causes, is an exception.

It is vital for the key political, security force and others who are involved to examine their actions and motives. Their recommission to the esprit de core of national unity and public service provides a foundation for the independence movement. Timor- Leste must also decide whether or not it wants a military and what its purpose would be.

The report of the CAVR gives useful suggestions for the implementation of rule of law and the improvement of justice and accountability in independent Timor- Leste.

Timor-Leste has been portrayed as a success story. In order for this to be maintained, more international support is needed. But this support must be provided in honesty and allows the Timorese people to be in control of their lives and their own destinies.

The following information was provided by a statement made by the ETAN about the violence in Timor- Leste.

Source:  http://www.etan.org/