East Timor

Jem

The Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor is one of the worst atrocities of this century. The occupation has claimed the lives of over 200,000 Timorese people, one-third of the original population. It continues in defiance of the United Nations Security Council which has twice called on Jakarta to withdraw "without delay" as well as eight General Assembly Resolutions. It has been maintained with the help of the United States.

East Timor, occupies the eastern half of the island of Timor, which lies between Indonesia and Australia (approximately 300 miles north of Darwin), East Timor is has lots of mountains and is culturally diverse. There are 12 main language groups in East Timor. Today, Tetun is the main East Timorese language with Portuguese spoken among older generations and Bahasa Indonesia among the young.

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor is recognized by the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory due for decolonization. It was on the agenda of the U.N. agenda long before Indonesia invaded and has been the subject of on and off negotiations, mediated by the U.N. Secretary-General between Portugal and Indonesia since 1983. These talks resulted in the Tripartite agreement to allow a vote on an Indonesian plan to grant East Timor a degree of autonomy. That Indonesia government has agreed that if the East Timorese reject autonomy in the U.N.-organized vote, it will repeal its annexation of East Timor. A U.N.-supervised transition to independence would then occur.

Right now, Peace Brigades International is establishing, upon the written request of the East Timorese Human Rights groups, a permanent presence of international volunteers in East Timor. The main objectives of the East Timor Peace Brigades International project is to help maintain a peaceful space for civil society to operate and grow. They are also working to bring about social and political dialogue that would work towards reconciliation. Finally, the Peace Brigades are working to empower civil society to reduce and eventually end the need for Peace Brigades presence.