I don't have many heroes.

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pablo banquo
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I don't have many heroes.

Postby pablo banquo » Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:12 pm

I guess I just wanted to ramble about East Timor for a bit. It's a small country, inside the group of islands that make up Indonesia. It's also very close to Australia. It's also one of the newest nations on the planet, becoming independent of Indonesia in 2002.

So what happened?
Portugal effectively abandoned East Timor and it unilaterally declared itself independent on November 28, 1975. Nine days later, it was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces before the declaration could be internationally recognized.
Indonesia claimed that the independence parties were communist so when the UN security council unanimously voted that Indonesia withdraw, the US and its' ally Australia blocked any economic sanctions or any other way to impose the decision.

From 1975 to 1999, Timor-Leste suffered one of the most brutal occupations in history. One third of the Timorese population perished. Women were forcibly sterilised, torture centers were commonplace.

In 1999, when Timor-Leste was granted its independence through a UN sponsored referendum, anti-independence militia were set loose upon the country. More than a thousand people were killed, including foreign journalists. 85% of the buildings -- virtually every school and every business -- were burned.

An international peacekeeping force was then sent in to keep order and help rebuild the infrastructure of the decimated country. Australia has since played a much larger role in giving aid to East Timor in the form of supplies, troops and more recently, giving them assistance in exploiting the oil reserves offshore. I think a lot of that was national guilt from allowing something like that to happen to one of our neighbours.

The President of East Timor, Dr José Manuel Ramos-Horta is currently in a hospital in Darwin, Australia. The victim of an assassination attempt in February that also coincided with the attack of prime minister Xanana Gusmao's convoy. The rebel leader was killed in the attack but his replacement and several of the others involved have turned themselves in to authorities.

The President has been visited by the Interim President Fernando Lasama de Araujo. In the meeting with the Interim President, President Ramos-Horta said that he forgives Alfredo Reinado Alves and asked the Timorese people to stay calm and avoid further violence.

Personally I didn't know much about Ramos-Horta other than hearing his name mentioned in news reports during their grab for independence. The guy's amazing, he got out of Timor 3 days before it was invaded to request aid from the united nations and remained in exile from 1975 to 1999 working within the international community with no funds to have the plight of his country heard.
In 1996 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Bishop Carlos Belo in Timor.

The other target in the attack, Xanana Gusmao, worked as a resistance leader during the occupation until he started to become well known and he was captured. He spent the remaining years imprisoned although he still kept some control over the resistance and was visited by UN representatives and other dignitaries, including Nelson Mandela.

I don't really recall why I wrote this out but it really touched me that these two men who have fought so hard for their country and almost died to assassins bullets, can then spout forgiveness for their attackers and their families. Why can't our leaders be more like that, I can't think of any independents who could have a hope in hell of becoming president.

(Also, Ramos Horta played Riff Raff in a London production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show for 3 months to make ends meet during his studies)

references: http://www.ramos-horta.org/index.asp (very informative site, has the entire nobel laureate speech if you wanted to read it)
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/st ... 90,00.html The latest article about the injured president's current health.
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Postby hobokenbob » Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:53 pm

I wish I could say otherwise, but the only reason I know anything about this at all is because I used to play a AV8B Harrier flight simulator that used the East Timor conflict as the backdrop. So to me, east timor is perpetually a bunch of very low polygon-count 3d objects. With alot of SAM sites.

The guy sounds like a worthy founding father to his new country.
In fairness, we've been building 'ground zeros' near Iraqi mosques since March 2003.

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Postby noumena » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:00 pm

He spoke at my college when I was a student, don't remember much of the speech, but I remember being amazed at how someone whose country has suffered so horribly could be so amazingly upbeat and positive.
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Postby pablo banquo » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:07 pm

I just found this too. It's fairly graphic. Someone collated many of the atrocities reported over the course of the months following the independence elections. Fuck Indonesia in the ass.

Probably NSFW and really not good if you're squeamish.
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