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Writing Topic #4
What's going on in East Timor?

Michael | José | Moral | Gloria | Deden | Michael again

September 16, 1999

Michael starts it off:

This week's topic is a bit late. I wasn't sure what topic to give but I decided on a very serious one. Timor is big news here in Australia at the moment and I'm interested to know how much is being reported in the rest of the world. So the topic is simply: what's going on in east timor? Is it being reported in your newspapers and on TV? Do you think Australia, the UN, the US, etc should intervene?

I'm curious to know what you know and think about this.

Michael has more to say on the topic. Click here to read more.

September 16, 1999

José says ...

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Yes, we have all heard the news about Timor in Argentina´s newspapers, and, as you may think, we all do worry about the killings and the useless fights that cause people to die. War is not human, and doesn´t have ethical or codified rules. War has existed from the very beginning of humankind.

We can argue if we have differences of opinions, but when differences go so far as to cause death, once we arrive at the point of killing or being killed, there is no common sense or civil rights to put on the table.

Where there is a war all people have to be sad and concerned about giving quick ideas to end the struggle as urgently as possible. No single country should be allowed to intervene, and every time that this happens gives a new chance to demonstrate what the UN is for.

September 23, 1999

Moral says ...


East Timor is actually a focus here in China. As far as I know from the news, many E-Timor people want to get independence, but a few don't. After a poll which could lead to the independence of E. Timor, supporters of Indonesia began to massacre those who wanted independence.

I am not sure if what I know is right or not, but I think the UN, Australia and other countries should end the massacre there. Anyway, any massacre is cruel and non-humanitarian so must be stopped.

September 24, 1999

Gloria says ...

I'm more than a bit late to answer this topic. Yes, the East Timor problem is being treated by the press here. I think that somebody has to do something to help innocent people come out from the conflict. I don't know much else about the topic.

Every day the news bring us several bad reports: wars, conflicts, terrorism, natural disasters. The point is that we have to do what we can to help construct a better world for us and for our children.

September 24, 1999

Deden says ...

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I live in Indonesia and about East Timor is a complicated problem. And I'm bored to hear about East Timor all the time.

I heard some bad news about Indonesian people in Australia. Some people have said that Australian people hate Indonesian people, and if an Australian sees an Indonesian in Oz, they will hit or attack him or her. If it this actually happened, I think I dont know what the problems would be with the Australian people?

Since I am pure Indonesian, I'm very sad to hear that news.

And how about you Michael, tell me your perception/opinion about Indonesia?

September 30, 1999

Michael replies to Deden ...

Hi Everyone. Deden has written some of his thoughts about the Australia-Indonesia-Timor situation below. He asked me for my thoughts on the situation. Also in my message are some questions from another Indonesian student I know.

The Australian government has been under pressure from some groups to intervene in East Timor for about 15 years. Over the years there have been many reports of atrocities against the East Timorese. Till now the Australian government has refused to be involved. But with the results of the recent election where the people of East Timor clearly voted to be independent from Indonesia, I guess our government at lasts feels that they have an obligation to go in to Timor and protect democracy and the wishes of the people in East Timor. Indonesian military documents published in our newspapers revealed that Jakarta always intended to implement what they called a 'Destructive Withdrawal Policy' if East Timor voted against Indonesia. And that seems to be what the Indonesian military are doing - destroying as much and as many people as they can before they leave.

Australia DOES NOT WANT control of Timor. That is very clear. Most Australians are very worried, as is the government, that going in there now might be the beginning of a military involvement there for many years. But the feeling here is that we have an obligation to assist the East Timor people implement the results of the election as we are its nearest neighbour. If the Indonesian army and the militias left East Timor and promised to stay away the Australian army would return immediately.

Another Indonesian student (not Deden) wrote:

Do you know theory about how to combine nations. This is only my thought but it may be true. You know that Indonesian now is in critical situation, not only Timor which like to be independent, but also Irian, and Aceh. I think to make this nation united, maybe politicians want to create a common enemy. If we have a common enemy we can work together, right? I'm worried about that, because I thought our common enemy would be Australia or America. I hope I'm wrong. What do you think?

Michael, back on the soap box ...

Well on this point I think you may be right. As you are Indonesian you would have a much better idea of how your government thinks, but this idea of inventing a common enemy is of course a very old strategy used to unite people.

I can certainly understand how this whole situation might look from Indonesia, but the last thing we want is war with Indonesia. We need you for our own protection because although we are a huge country we basically don't have enough people to defend ourselves. But I heard yesterday that Indonesian soldiers and militia are gathering in West Timor and intend to attack the peacekeeping force in the east. That would be terrible if that happens.

Somehow in all of this our countries have to remain allies. But it looks like there are some very uncertain and potentially dangersous times ahead.

Let me repeat - Australia does not want control of East Timor. That would be an incredibly stupid thing to do and would just ignite a war with Indonesia that Australia would be bound to lose so that is the last thing Australia would do. We need you!


As for Australians hating Indonesians who live in Australia.....

Australia, like any country, has its share of racists. It is possible that if a foreigner meets racists during their time in Australia they may be abused, and perhaps even attacked. But the majority of Australians are very welcoming to strangers from other countries. I have traveled a lot and in my opinion Australia is the most successful multicultural country on the planet. The whole world lives here and most of the time they live in peace.

Rising unemployment has left some people angry and they say that 'the migrants are taking our jobs' , but the fact is that migrants create jobs.

But that's another story!

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Last updated: January 17, 2000