30 August 2009
Timor Leste -- A Decade of Independence
Timor Leste or East Timor has marked ten years of Independence from Indonesia. On an anniversary such as this one it is hard to look only in one direction. One must look forward, but one must also look back. Looking back and taking stock, taking stock of what has and what has not been achieved. It is impossible to move forward without first addressing the past.
I like Jose Ramos Horta. I like his commitment to the cause, I like his honesty, I like the fact that he calls things as he sees them. These are interesting traits for a man who has made his name as a diplomat, then as Prime Minister of his nation, and now as President.
However, I am not sure that I agree with his call that an international tribunal or commission is not needed in Timor Leste to address issues of war crimes and other crimes against humanity that may have been committed over the years of Indonesian occupation and the period during the direct ballot and the period immediately following the announcement of the results of the direct ballot.
Reconciliation is a nice thought, but as a process it does not really address the need for justice for victims or the families of victims. I am sure, no, I know, there are arguments that truth and reconciliation commissions are useful. The most obvious example is South Africa. Nevertheless, my personal belief is that justice is best served through a tribunal process. I am not sure that "slowly, gradually, steadily justice will prevail."
In an interesting side note, Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirajuda, was 45 minutes late in arriving and the commencement of the ceremony was delayed until he arrived. So, I am guessing that this is indicative of Timor Leste seeing its former colonial master after the Portuguese, Indonesia, as being an important partner going forward. It might also be indicative of a complete lack of respect that Indonesia may have for Timor Leste. Then again, it might just have been a technical problem with an aircraft or something.
Congratulation to Timor Leste on the first ten years of independence!
May the next ten years see some drastic improvements on the poverty reduction, employment, and education fronts.
Viva Timor Leste.