East Timor becomes an independent nation.
May 19, 2002 1:01 PM   Subscribe

East Timor becomes an independent nation. East Timor has officially been declared independent at a colourful and emotional ceremony in the capital, Dili, marking an official end to 450 years of foreign rule over the territory.
posted by metaxa (8 comments total)
posted by mcsweetie at 1:20 PM on May 19, 2002

I just love the name Megawati. What an electric personality.
posted by Apoch at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2002

Anyone else think it's interesting that the admin contact listed for East Timor's TLD is apparently also the president?
posted by zztzed at 2:12 PM on May 19, 2002

I presume that the UN critics here are still preparing their comments on how the organisation fucked up the transition to peace and democracy, after years of the big powers sucking up to Suharto's Indonesia. Because obviously, lots of other organisations could have done a far better job. Yes?
posted by riviera at 2:55 PM on May 19, 2002

Child celebrates independence

Congratulations to the people of East Timor on this historic day.

My university runs an ET program in which students travel to villages on the island and teach English for a month. My girlfriend went last June and two of my best friends are going this June. I'm hoping to go next year, when I get the chance to take some time off. Apparently it's an amazing experience.

There's some excellent news and background at these sites:

ZMag East Timor Watch
BBC special coverage
A(ust)BC special coverage
ABC timeline

Viva Timor Lorosae!
posted by robcorr at 6:12 PM on May 19, 2002

probably the most courageous people of the modern age.
posted by raaka at 3:30 AM on May 20, 2002

They had the good fortune to have this brought to a head before 9/11 - anytime after and the indigenous people would have been 'terrorists'.
posted by niceness at 4:57 AM on May 20, 2002

raaka, I have no doubt they have endured much and persevered long, but that seems a bit ... excessive. I have never quite understood the lefty love for East Timor -- I mean, sure, it was invaded by a bigger neighbor and all, but there are (alas) plenty of similar examples of oppressed peoples. More courageous than South Africans? More courageous than 1968 Hungarians? More courageous than 1991 Russians? More courageous than 1989 Chinese? They are not even unique among Indonesian territories in the repression by the central government. In the pantheon of causes, they're something of the foreign policy Mumia.

None of which is to diminish their struggle. Though there are other ironies: its distinguishing characteristics from surrounding Indonesia are, of course, merely legacies of colonialism -- the Portuguese/European ethnic influence, Christianity, the language. Before the European traders came there was nothing to distinguish East Timor from West. By any anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist right, the artificial boundary should be eliminated, true? And certainly an enormous underpinning of the argument for East Timor's freedom was its subjugation by the dictatorship of Indonesia, but that is now gone. What does independence grant East Timor today, other than a nominal distinction against part of a federal Indonesia? The economic situation will be little changed. I suppose it proves a point for some, especially those who've waved this particular flag in many a parade -- and it may well be that democratic East Timor leads a path to greater, more accountable democracy and autonomy for Indonesia in time.

But I guess what I'm asking for is a reason why this one is so important, and why we shouldn't in turn support any given separatist movement. What about the seven other major regions of Indonesia that want more autonomy? What about the Basque, or Corsica? Why the Former Soviet Republics, and not Ossetia or Abkhazia or ... you see.

I just hope the benefit of success is commensurate iwth the cost of resistance, because the latter was indeed steep.
posted by dhartung at 9:33 AM on May 20, 2002

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