Indonesia's Occupation of East Timor

I read with interest the opinion-page article "Fruits of Progress in Indonesia," June 26. I am appalled by the dismissive tone the author uses when referring to the question of East Timor, since he advises us to be reminded of history.

East Timor was not a Dutch colonial possession - it was a Portuguese one. After 1974, when a democratic revolution took place in Portugal, East Timor, like Portugal's other overseas territories, was to have exercised its right to self-determination. That ran contrary to Jakarta's plans, and on Dec. 7, 1975, its military forces were unleashed into the territory.

For the past 21 years, Indonesia has maintained a brutal occupation of East Timor, with a death toll in excess of 200,000 and widespread repression, human rights violations, and an attempt to obliterate the cultural identity of the East Timorese people.

The UN hasn't recognized this annexation, and Portugal is still legally regarded as the "administering power" of that territory for the purpose of carrying out the process of self-determination of its people, which was prevented by the Indonesian takeover.

Bicycle rickshaws may have disappeared from the streets, as the author points out, but contempt for human rights hasn't. Economic progress is no reason to ignore Jakarta's responsibilities for its occupation of the foreign territory of East Timor, much less to contend that Indonesia "has no choice" but to squeeze the life and freedom out of the East Timorese people to ensure its own national integrity.

Fernando Andresen Guimaraes


Ambassador of Portugal

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