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Portugal's Role in East Timor

Regarding the letter "Indonesia's Occupation of East Timor," July 5, I am astonished at the way the author has managed to distort the historical fact about East Timor.

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Concerning the right to self-determination, does the author mention the terror-waging Fretilin [a pro-independence group from East Timor], which vied for power with weapons abandoned by erstwhile colonialist Portugal in August 1975? Or rather the proclamation of independence and integration with Indonesia in November 1975 issued by the four majority political parties in East Timor?

After its abandonment of East Timor, Portugal still failed to make good on its own promise to return and actually start the decolonization process, despite Indonesia's urging. It was Indonesia that ended the bloody civil war only after the leaders of the four major political parties appealed for its involvement.

How can a colonial country, having for four centuries exercised its will against that territory on the brink of civil war, call itself an administering power?

Legally speaking, in a recent International Court of Justice ruling against Portugal, Judge Shiergeru Oda filed an opinion stating that "there has not been any reason to assume that Portugal has, since the late 1970s and up to the present time, been entrusted with the rights and responsibilities of an Administering Power for the Non-Self-Governing Territory of East Timor."

D. Budiman


Minister/Deputy Chief of Mission

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Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia

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