East Timor: A Betrayed People Fight for Freedom - Australian Foreign Policy

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East Timor: A Betrayed People Fight for Freedom

For most people, except possibly those who live in the region and its proximity, East Timor is a distant, fledgling nation not easily located on a map. Apart from its residents and immediate neighbours, its experiences are known to a few and since it possesses neither size nor geopolitical significance it is no surprise that its existence is largely overlooked. Australia, albeit with self-interest in mind, has failed to defend the poor, helpless people of East Timor through the bureaucratic means of foreign policy. While some may argue that self-interest is all that should govern foreign policy, the example of East Timor proves otherwise. Over a period spanning nearly three decades Australian governments of both political persuasions not only supported an Indonesian invasion on the basis of communism but also turned a blind eye to Indonesia's subjection of East Timor once the movement became obviously corrupt.

Australia placed more importance on developing a relationship with its most populous northern neighbour rather that assisting a former ally.

In 1975, Indonesia (who already had control over West Timor since 1949) invaded East Timor and in 1976 declared it an Indonesian province, with full support from the Australian government. The East Timorese people detested this invasion and many fought and died in protest, while Australia continued to meet and celebrate with Indonesian officials over the success of the incursion (The World Book Encylopedia, 1992). The outcry trying to be heard from this tiny half-island was humanity not only struggling to assert its rights but more importantly, calling upon the United Nations to act in fulfillment of its charter. Australia's involvement in East Timor was one of a pragmatic stance as opposed to a moral one. (Munckton, S, & King, S, 2005).

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