East Timor

Statement by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) on the current violence in Timor-Leste

We have watched the unfolding situation in Timor-Leste this past week with deep concern. We do not believe that events had to escalate to this point. Like others, we do not have complete information about the current situation and its causes. Below are our initial reflections:

The intervention by foreign military and police forces is a sad event for Timor-Leste, whose hard-won political independence has had to be laid aside ­ we hope for only a short time ­ because leaders and state institutions have been unable to manage certain violent elements of the population and security forces.

Now that foreign forces are being deployed — at the request of Timor-Leste’s government, with the stated support of rebel leaders, and the welcome by most of a terrified population — we hope that they serve their intended purpose in quelling the violence and allowing negotiations and a peaceful resolution, as well as the identification and arrest of those who have committed crimes.

Outside intervention is a temporary solution at best. Timor-Leste must find ways, with respectful support from the international community, to deal with problems in a manner that will not require troops.

Statements by Australian government leaders that providing security assistance entitles them to influence over Timor-Leste’s government are undemocratic, paternalistic, and unhelpful. Who governs Timor-Leste is a decision to be made by its people within its constitution.


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