Wednesday, May 24, 2006

(East Timor Problems) Internationalism

The problem as I see it with the government of Timor is that they have focused on external or macro issues to the detriment of internal and micro issues. In my estimation, they have done well and continue to do so at the macro level. However, the glaring exception is their lack of willingness to seek justice from Indonesia for the brutal 24-year occupation of Timor. This important exception feeds into the internal and micro issues that the government has neglected.

Neglected, I believe, because most of the government are out of touch with ordinary Timorese concerns. Why? Because most of them didn’t live in Timor during the 24 year occupation and despite the fact that many worked tirelessly to obtain Timor’s independence, it meant that their focus became international. This, combined with their high levels of education, has set them apart from the ordinary Timorese, most of whom are illiterate, poor and have little idea about the world outside their village, yet alone this small half-island’s boundaries. Their concerns are immediate: where to get enough food and water today to feed their family and access to health and education. Many also want justice from Indonesia, good roads and to see the fruits of their government’s work and words as actual impacts in their everyday lives. If the ordinary people had these things, I don’t think the ethnic divide we now are seeing would have gathered much momentum.

The second problem confronting the government is the way the F-FDTL and the PNTL were formed and the continuing lack of rules and procedures concerning them, particularly the former. The higher-ranking officers of the F-FDTL are almost universally from the east and the PNTL if full of people from the west. In a fledgling society such as Timor, its military and police should not be so ethnically divided. This leaves the two security forces open to exploitation and genuine charges of discrimination within their ranks. Political manipulation and exploitation is a particular worry.

When this happens, those angry unemployed young men who belong to martial arts groups are also likely to get in on the act. Thus, tensions rise, different groups take action, and the situation deteriorates rapidly.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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Hi, I work for an online Australian news source called Crikey ( Your blog gives a really fascinating insight into what's going on in East Timor right now -- and it's hard to know what's going on. How would you feel about us running an item from your blog? (with links and credits). Also, if this was ok with you, it'd be great if we could use your full name as a byline. If you get a chance, if you could email me ( that would be excellent. Take care. Jane

By Anonymous Jane, at 8:08 am  

I think it's interesting how this blogger would (yet again) blame Indonesia for East Timor's internal problems... When is East Timor going to be fully accountable for its own problems?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:04 am  

I believe you may have missed the point of my post. I am blaming the Timorese government for not seeking justice on behalf of its own people.

Moreover, Timor is a new nation, only four years in the making. Its brutal history impacts deeply on the nation's psyche. Gross human rights violations must not be met with impunity - ever.

By Blogger Samantha, at 10:48 am  

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