Timor-Leste: the long journey from colonialism to independence
Part 1Session 8
Fri 09:00-10:30 Room 3.07
Part 2Session 9
Fri 11:00-12:30 Room 3.07
- Michael Leach Swinburne University of Technology
- Zélia Pereira The Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra
- Lúcio Sousa Universidade Aberta
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Shaping a response to Indonesian rule over Timor-Leste in the UN Human Rights Commission (1982-1991)
Zélia Pereira The Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra
On November 23, 1982, the UN General Assembly approved Resolution 37/30, the culmination of a long way in which parts of the international community sought to redesign the central political issue of Timor-Leste’s self-determination as one with humanitarian concerns. In the following years, while in New York attempts were being made to engage Portugal and Indonesia in dialogue under the aegis of the mandate conferred upon the UN Secretary-General, in Geneva the UN Human Rights Commission also became engaged in the broad process. This commission and its subsidiary organs, such as the Sub-commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, welcomed human rights experts, NGOs and civil society solidarity movements, as well as some member countries with a seat in the commission. They all sought to keep the issue of Timor-Leste’s self-determination afloat, grounding their approach on the persistent denunciation of Indonesia’s violations of rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The Dunn Report 1977; Breaking the informational embargo.
Peter Job University of the New South Wales Canberra
In early 1977 former intelligence officer and Consul to Portuguese Timor James Dunn published The Dunn Report on East Timor. Circulated widely in Australia and internationally and based upon the testimony of Timorese refugees in Lisbon, it produced strong evidence, since verified, of the humanitarian and military situation in East Timor. As such it challenged not only the narrative propagated by the Suharto regime, but that of its key international defenders, including Australia and the US. Dunn took his report to the international community, touring Europe and the US. It had a profound impact upon internationally, leading to US Congressional investigations into the situation in East Timor, enhancing awareness of the issue around the world and providing impetus to the international solidarity movement. This paper examines the report’s impact, including how key governments responded to it.
The originality of the Timor-Leste process of self-determination
Rui Feijo Universidade de Coimbra
Portuguese decolonization was a tardy process, starting with open contestation of its policies towards the “overseas provinces” in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but only materializing after the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974. Within the context of Portuguese decolonization, Timor-Leste was, on several counts, an original process. The abrupt end to a self-determination process by virtue of the Indonesian annexation of the territory meant that Timor suffered a period of “Third World Colonialism”. The conquest of independence after the UN-sponsored referendum of 30 August 1999 was thus the ultimate result of a double decolonization.
If not us, then who?”: Santa Cruz and Clandestine Strategy’
Michael Leach Swinburne University of Technology
This paper examines the evolution of strategy among East Timorese clandestine groups in the leadup to the 1991 Santa Cruz protest and massacre. Drawing on interviews with Gregorio Saldanha (OJETIL), Elizario Ferreira (FITUN), and Jose Neves (RENETIL) it analyses how clandestine groups countered Indonesian military intelligence strategies to divide youth, employing their own techniques of agitation-propaganda, and connections with the Church, to mobilise and unify Timorese youth. Finally, it examines changes in clandestine group strategy in the wake of the Santa Cruz massacre and subsequent Indonesian crackdown.
Nationalism in transition: Construction and transformation of Rai Timor
Takahiro Kamisuna National University of Singapore
As Rai Timor [Timor Land] has been historically and spatially malleable, East Timorese nationalism does not necessarily build on the conventional notion of territory. While conventional scholarship on nationalism claims vernacular origins of nationalism in forming a nation within a given territory, this study explains, theoretically, how nationalism transcends existing colonial borders to create a national struggle in the case of East Timor. Through situating the development of East Timorese nationalism within the global transition toward human rights, it recounts in a parallel fashion the transformation of East Timorese nationalism from an older to a younger generation. Based on the fieldwork in Dili and Jakarta as well as extensive archival research in Tetum, Indonesian and Portuguese, the comparative historical analysis of nationalism between the Portuguese-educated old generation and
Timorese leaders in the 1970s and the creation of insurgent intellectual networks
Camila Tribess Universidade Federal da Bahia
This presentation aims to analyze a selection of discourses and documents related to the formation of FRETILIN in the 1970s, based on the idea of “insurgent intellectual networks” (Morris, 2015). These networks were established between young East Timorese leaders and their peers from PALOP, especially Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. The discussion about the intellectual formation and political action is fundamental to locate and complexify the place of these young leaders and the role they played in refusing to identify themselves with the supposedly privileged place in the colonial organization. For this goal, I analyze a selection of letters, party documents and interviews that help us to identify the creation of these networks, which are formed by peripheral leaders (who are denied access to elite networks, especially European ones) who establish intellectuals and political exchanges, generating new ideas and conceptions. In the Timorese case, they were searching for support from African nationalist movements for the nationalist party with revolutionary ideology. In the previous analysis carried out, the material highlighted the strong influence of African peers in the consolidation of these ideals in the FRETILIN party’s discourse.
Timor-Leste was the first nation-state to gain international recognition in the 21st century, as its independence was proclaimed 20 years ago on 20 May 2002. Before that day, Timor-Leste witnessed a long period of Portuguese colonization, a process of self-determination violently interrupted by an Indonesian invasion that lasted for 24 dramatic years during which its population resisted the annexation, and an UN transitional administration laying ground for independent statehood. This panel is open to contributions focusing on any aspect of this long process. We welcome papers on the colonial legacy, the struggle for independence, the role of international actors and transnational solidarity movements, as well as contributions on the political and identity challenges raised by the construction of the new state