Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reporting 1999 - Getting it wrong, getting it right

The article below, circulated to the east-timor list, contains many errors. Given China's large role in Timor-Leste, it worrisome that a reporter visiting Dili could get so many things wrong, both about current events and about history. I've interspersed some corrections below, and hope that anyone in contact with Xinhua or the journalist can pass them on.

-- Charlie

At 10:05 PM 8/13/2009, you wrote:
Timor-Leste to become role model for post-conflict countries: president


2009-08-13 19:46:52

DILI, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos Horta said here on Thursday that Timor-Leste will become a peaceful country that hopefully can be a role model for the countries that had been going through conflicts and violence in their history.

Speaking at a session to commemorate the referendum day on Aug.30, 1999 whose result split the territory from Indonesia, the president said that each citizen of Timor-Leste has the obligation to prevent the violence from occurring again.

The referendum did not "split" Timor-Leste from Indonesia, as it had never legally been part of Indonesia.
"It would be the test for all of us. I hope that peace will grow among us and develop well among the public," the president said.

With peaceful condition, the government and the people of Timor-Leste will have the chance to develop the country and bring prosperity to its people, Jose said.

Thousand of Timor-Leste people were killed during and after the referendum day following bloody conflicts committed by militants who supported the separation and the other one who supported to stay intact in Indonesian territory.
The great majority the more than 150,000 Timorese victims were killed during the first ten years following Indonesia's invasion in 1975, although about 1,400 more were killed during 1999. Nearly all of the victims were civilians or pro-independence people, while nearly all of the perpetrators were Indonesian military or police, or militia groups they created and directed. There were no "bloody conflicts committed by militants who supported the separation" during and after referendum day -- the massive mayhem and destruction during September and October was entirely done by Indonesian military and their militia proxies.

Timor-Leste also saw a tough crisis in 2006 that almost toppled down Jose Ramos Horta's presidency.

In 2006, Jose Ramos Horta was Foreign Minister. He became interim Prime Minister after the crisis toppled the Prime Ministership of Mari Alkatiri. Ramos-Horta wasn't elected President until mid-2007.

The referendum was the result of Indonesian and Portuguese governments' and was held to determine whether Timor-Least would remain as a part of Indonesia, as a Special Autonomous Region, or separate from Indonesia.

The referendum was the mechanism to implement Timor-Leste's legal and moral right to self-determination, as specified in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It was delayed by 24 years because of Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation, which was never recognized by the international community.

The referendum was organized and monitored by the United Nations Mission in Timor-Least.


In 2002, Timor-Leste was declared as an independent country.

Timor-Leste declared its independence on 28 November 1975 Actual independence wasn't achieved until 20 May 2002, due to Indonesia's invasion and the lack of international political will before 1999 to do anything about it other than pass resolutions.

Charles Scheiner - ETAN and Lao Hamutuk

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