(P68AB) The long road of Timor-Leste towards independence: Transnational perspectives
Part 1Session 9
Fri 09:00-10:30 K10 | 3.05
Part 2Session 10
Fri 11:00-12:30 K10 | 3.05
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By talking we (don´t) understand each other better. The “Timor Question” in the exchanges between Portugal and Indonesia (1974-1975)
Rui Feijo Universidade de Coimbra
Between the Revolution of 25 April 1974 and the date of the Indonesian invasion of Portuguese Timor (7 December 1975), the two countries entertained diplomatic and political relations in which the fate of the Portuguese colony were a central point. This paper explores Portuguese official archival sources to build a picture of the (mis)understandings that were established. Indonesia insisted on the sensitivity of this issue in terms of regional security, argued for the establishment of joint bodies to deal with the end of the colonial domination, and placed the negotiations mostly under the aegis of its military personnel. Portugal refused to internationalize the issue and put an emphasis on the need to secure the concourse of the Timorese population in the definition of the solution, while arguing that Indonesia should use its influence to steer the action of one of the political movements active in the territory. The paper end with a brief appraisal of the consequences of the conflicting positions,
Reality overlapping principles? An overview of fifteen years of Portugal’s policies regarding the problem of the self-determination of Timor-Leste (1976-1990)
Zélia Pereira CES, Univ. Coimbra
After the invasion of Timor-Leste by Indonesia in December 1975, Portugal found itself before a failed decolonization process in what had been one of its smallest and most remote colonies. The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, approved in April 1976, expressly recognized that Portugal remained bound by the responsibilities of promoting and guaranteeing the right to independence of Timor-Leste, entrusting the President of the Republic and the Government with the actions aimed at achieving this goal. Portugal remained formally, before the United Nations, as the legal Administering Power of territory under which it no longer had any kind of actual sovereignty or even access. A solution had to be found that would allow, simultaneously, to end this condition and safeguard the right of the Timorese people to its self-determination, through an internationally recognized process. Given the reality of a territory occupied by Indonesia, and because of the principles that had guided Portuguese decolonization, the constitutionally imposed obligation and the underlying international framework in the field of peoples’ rights, the Portuguese authorities oscillated in the options to follow and rehearsed ways that would allow them to reconcile what, at the outset, seemed irreconcilable. In this paper, we will provide an overview of the Portuguese politics for the period between 1976 and 1990, demonstrating the winding, and the sometimes conflicting, path followed by the main organs of state, in the difficult management amidst the apparent fait accompli of Indonesian rule over Timor-Leste and Portugal’s legal and moral obligations to the East Timorese and the world. The role of the President of the Republic (in the two terms of President Ramalho Eanes and the first term of President Mário Soares) will be addressed, as well as the evolution of politics for Timor followed by successive constitutional governments, the position of the Assembly of the Republic, the Council of Revolution and, after the extinction of this body, of the Council of State, namely as to the adequacy of the principles to the reality of the facts. The relationship between the Portuguese authorities and the solidarity organizations that supported the cause of Timor-Leste is also an object of reflection, to highlight how, although political leaders did not always give civil society its due importance, they were constantly forced to acknowledge their pressure and even to turn to these organizations for information and support.
Finally, we will reflect on the view of the Portuguese authorities regarding the role of the East Timorese in this process and the relationship with their representatives abroad.
Walking a Tightrope between the Army and the Church: Jesuit Relief amidst the Indonesian Occupation of East Timor, 1975-1999
Pocut Hanifah CES, Universidade de Coimbra
This article discusses the dilemmas faced by Indonesian Jesuits operating in East Timor during the Indonesian Occupation (1975-1999). The Jesuits were torn between their missionary activities and Indonesian integration propaganda. They walked a tightrope between the Catholic Church and the Indonesian army. As the English priest Fr. Patrick “Pat” A. Smythe—who operated in East Timor and Papua (1995-1996)—formulates it, the Indonesian ordinariates acted as Partner, Pastor and Prophet at once. They tried to take care of their Timorese congregation, but also represented the integration of Timor into Indonesia by their very presence and the attempts of the Jakarta-based Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (MAWI/KWI) to integrate the Diocese of Dili. Moreover, all Indonesian priests—and especially the Jesuit ones—were perceived as sources of intelligence by the Indonesian army for they integrated into Timorese society much more smoothly than Indonesian soldiers. Whereas the military forces were widely despised and feared, the Indonesian Jesuits operated schools and hospitals. Whether the Indonesian Jesuits wanted it or not, their Catholic missions became symbols of Indonesian nation building.
Interviews with several Indonesian Jesuit priests who had served in Timor during and shortly after the occupation, make clear that they needed to trot carefully lest being perceived as traitors to either the Indonesian, Catholic or Timorese cause. Prominent Indonesian Jesuits like the Dutch-born University lecturer Thomas Jacobs Maria (1929-2008) tried to overcome this ambiguous position by emphasizing the need to adapt Catholic values to Indonesian customs, but abstain from any political agenda. This predominantly academic viewpoint, however, far from satisfied Jesuit ordinariates operating within East Timor itself. The controversies surrounding their operations could not simply be addressed by Catholic dogma. It was inspired by Liberation theology (Teologi pembebasan), but was also pragmatically adapted to the socio-economic as well as military context in which their relief was offered. As will be argued here, the Indonesian Jesuits in Timor were fully aware of their political role and in constant negotiation between the Indonesian forces and their Timorese flock. They thus laid a bridge between the conqueror and the conquered which was bound to crumble at every bloody turn and twist during the two-and-a-half decades of conflict.
Keeping the Issue Alive: TAPOL and the International Campaign for Self-Determination and Justice in East Timor
Hannah Loney Department of Gender Studies, Central European University
From 1974, as Portugal initiated decolonization processes in East Timor and the Indonesian military prepared to invade the territory, the British human rights organization, TAPOL, warned of the humanitarian tragedy that would ensue. In these early stages, and throughout the subsequent 24-year Indonesian occupation of the territory, TAPOL fervently advocated for the human rights of the East Timorese people and for their right to national self-determination. Following the vote for independence in 1999 and the withdrawal of Indonesian forces, TAPOL continued to campaign for accountability for human rights violations and justice for survivors. This paper will explore the role, activities, and influence of TAPOL in the transnational campaign for self-determination and justice in East Timor.
The Catholic Church’s Position on Cultural Genocide: 1981-1991
Michael Leach Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
The Catholic Church hierarchy in occupied East Timor launched a major campaign in the early 1980s which bore directly on issues of nationalism and national identity, arguing that Indonesian human rights abuses in the territory constituted a form of ‘cultural genocide’. From 1981 onward, the Timorese Church expressed concerns over the ‘ethnic, religious and cultural identity’ of the province. This campaign and the Intenational networks it mobilised deeply stung the Indonesian administration and forced it to respond. This paper examines the evolution of this campaign over 10 years, and the way Church campaigns over Timorese cultural and religious identity reinforced claims of national self-determination.
The Roadmap to self-determination of Portuguese Timor (1974-1975) Interactions between Portugal and the three main political movements regarding the decolonization of the territory
Rui Feijo Universidade de Coimbra
On April 25, 1974, the revolutionary military announced the colonial policies pursued by the deposed regime would be significantly altered. It took three months of intensive bargaining among the new rulers before Portugal approved Law 7/74 (27 July) which makes it clear that the new policy for self-determination included all the Portuguese colonies and would contemplate the possibility of their independence. It would take yet another year – and a turbulent one – before Law 7/75 (17 July) laid the foundations for the roadmap for the self-determination of Portuguese Timor. This new piece of legislation was prepared in lengthy discussions with representatives of the three main political movements acting in the territory, and brought to a summit in Macau (June 1975) which was only attended by two of those movements. It was also discussed in the ruling Council of the Revolution before being promulgated. However, subsequent events, namely the coup orchestrated by UDT (10 August 1975), the brief civil war that ensued, and the military victory of another movement (FRETILIN), changed the situation on the ground. Portugal kept the project on the table, but was not successful in convening the three movements to a new summit. Frustration over this failure grew on both sides, and FRETILIN unilaterally declared the independence of Timor-Leste. Indonesia responded by invading the new country only 10 days after its proclaimed independence.
This paper is based on extensive archival research in Portuguese public and private archives. It accompanies the Portuguese initiative of discussing a blueprint for the self-determination process; it follows the debates held in Macau; and analyses subsequent efforts to keep the plan alive in light of the new, emerging situation. As a conclusion, the paper proposes to understand the rationale for the Portuguese insistence on guaranteeing that the decolonization process of Timor-Leste would fit the most stringent requirements of democracy and satisfy the rules set up by the UN.
Between the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974 and the world-acclaimed proclamation of the “restauration” of its independence on May 20, 2002, Timor-Leste travelled a very long, dramatic and bumpy road. The exercise of the right to selfdetermination according to the principles enshrined in the UN main documents was only achieved after a lengthy process that mobilized the East Timorese themselves, but also implied the participation of many other actors across the globe – national governments, international agencies, NGOs and the world public opinion in general – in contexts that
moved from the height of the Cold War to the demise of the bipolar world. This panel welcomes participants interested in discussing all aspects of this process, with a special focus on transnational aspects of the long liberation struggle of the people of Timor-Leste