EAST TIMOR: DATE SET FOR FIRST ELECTION

This former Portuguese colony, after suffering 25 years of tyranny and military dictatorship under the Fascist government of Indonesia, never stopped fighting for its independence. Through years of massacres and deportations, Xanana Gusmao led his handful of FALINTIL freedom fighters(never more than 10,000) deep in the mountains of Timor to victory against the military might of Indonesia. Though captured and imprisoned towards the final years of his struggle for power, Xanana’s charisma was still strong even from his prison cell in Jakarta and on 30th August, 1999, the Maubere people of East Timor voted for independence. What followed was a horrifying backlash of savagery not seen anywhere since Hitler’s time. Gangs of marauding armed thugs chopped men, women and children to pieces with machetes – sometimes even in churches, wreaking havoc in their thirst for revenge. The international community, alerted by the Portuguese, which kept up a phenomenal diplomatic barrage in all the main institutions, reacted slowly and set up an international commission under the United Nations Organization, led by Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello. Today, Xanana Gusmao, now released and Interim President of East Timor, a new country which is rich in oil, handed a list to Mello with his plans for the country’s first elections to select a legislative assembly, on 24th June, 2001. This assembly will create the country’s first constitution. This is an example of how, if David is prepared to fight Goliath, giants can be toppled by the power of the people.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon