International Awareness of the East Timor Conflict
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
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Well, I think that the first example for the international community was the massacre on November 12, 1991. The pictures there are not fiction. They are the real picture, real human being who were shoot by the Indonesian troops in front of the international community presence. And I think the most—well, the November 12 pictures were the first pictures that were shown, that attracted the world’s attention. But I think what happened just right after the vote in August this year, I think, shows—showed clearly that the Indonesian army did not change their behavior. And what they did in the past, they continue to do so in the present.
Well, the problem is in—it is a process. It is, I would say, the biggest problem with the invasion, and the occupation is now almost in the end. Since May, the UN and Portugal, Indonesia—the reason why I said Portugal is because Portugal still has its judicial power over East Timor, administrative power over East Timor, and that’s why the negotiations at the UN has to be done between Portugal and Indonesia under UN auspices. So, in May of 1999, Portugal and Indonesia agree to hold a referendum in East Timor. So, in August of 1999, almost 80 percent of East Timorese people voted for independence. And because the vote was for autonomy, autonomy or independence, so the East Timorese voted for independence. And it’s overwhelming, voted for independence: 78.8 percent, almost 80 percent. Unfortunately, right after the vote, Indonesia started with violence against the Timorese civilians. As a result of that, the entire county in a few weeks, in three weeks or so, the entire country was destroyed. The infrastructure—that is, banks, hospitals, civil administration: all destroyed. And Indonesia pulled out because of the multi-national—multi-national force went into East Timor. And now, so the biggest problem, the Indonesian presence, the Indonesian soldiers’ presence in East Timor, has been solved. It’s not completely solved, but it is not a question, their presence in East Timor. So people begin to regain some confidence. But the biggest problem now that is ahead of us is the reconstruction of East Timor. How we are going to reconstruct East Timor? How are we going to build, you know, our houses? How are you going to reestablish a civil administration in East Timor? So, this is the biggest problem that is ahead of us.