Saturday, May 13, 2006

Leave East Timor Alone

Here we go again, the first sign of disruption in a sovereign nation in Australia’s region, and big brother can’t wait to charge in.

East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta last night said his country did not need foreign peacekeepers "because there is no war in East Timor".

But the Australian navy's three largest ships, HMAS Kanimbla, HMAS Manoora and HMAS Tobruk, will load Darwin-based armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and hundreds of troops ahead of an expected United Nations request for military assistance. The peacekeeping task force will include more than 1000 personnel equipped to enforce law and order and evacuate civilians from the capital Dili.

It will include 450 infantry from the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade and APCs from the Darwin-based 1st Brigade.

According to sources, the Government expects a UN request at any time. From the Sydney Daily Telegraph

And here is the word from the top: Prime Minister John Howard said the deployment was a sensible measure, but no request had been received from East Timor.

Leave the poor bastards alone to sort out their own transition from occupation to independence! Ramos-Horta is no idiot, either are the other leaders of East Timor. They know the local situation, the people and dynamics, better than John Howard or the UN ever could.

The people of East Timor sought help to extricate themselves from the oppressive and murderous occupation by Indonesia.

The East Timorese have earned their self determination and as a sovereign nation should be left to decide how they will handle difficulties of integrating various community groups, including former freedom fighters.

Disaffected elements of the military and gangs of youths led a riot in Dili recently, which left at least six people dead.

The violence was blamed on the dismissal of 600 soldiers in March, who had deserted the army over claims of discrimination.

More than two dozen retired Falintil guerilla fighters met to draft a declaration. It was signed and delivered by Lieutenant Gastao Salsinha, the leader of 591 soldiers sacked in February for deserting their posts amid claims of discrimination in the military.

The protest leaders are veterans of the guerilla war fought by the independence movement Fretilin against Indonesian rule from 1975 to 1999.

They allege that the military hierarchy has favoured ex-fighters from the eastern region of East Timor for promotions at their expense. They also claim that the police force is riddled with their former enemies—officers who worked for the Indonesian security forces before independence.

Ramos Horta says most of the 594 soldiers who were dismissed several weeks ago for alleged breaches of discipline were not involved in the violence.


Helmut Schaefer said...

Fair enough about leaving a sovereign nation alone, but should there have to be a request by the ET govt., it would be better we were prepared to assist, It's probably a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. As someone who's been to ET a number of times, I find the current troubles unsurprising. ET has a small fledgling army and with 600 of them disaffected it doesn't leave too many others to hold the centre. Whether it's a govt. led by Alkatiri or someone else, the resources still aren't there to do the job. What's more, some of those in higher positions may not be sensitive enough to the concerns of the many different ethnic/language groups in the country. The situation of divisions in the army is just one case in point.

Cartledge said...

Thanks Helmut, and I agree with preparedness. There are others issues with this which trouble me.
ET did not want a standing army, they wanted a strong police force. Australia, the UN and others forced the issue. I expect ET could see the problem of intergrating former freedom fighters into a disciplined army force. They were right.
Second is the approach of Howards government. Ramos-Horta has said they don't want the AMF involved. Now R-H says the australians are not even telling ET what they plan.
It sounds awfully like meddling to me. Unless Howard is simply getting his ducks in a row to support the insane Bush push in Iran.