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    Human Rights Violations in East Timor Essay

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    HumanRights Violations in East TimorThe Portuguese first colonized the islandof Timor, of which East Timor is part of along with West Timor, in 1520. The next three centuries marked attempts by the Spanish, the Dutch, andthe British to colonize the island. These attempts were successful,but Portuguese sovereignty over East Timor was finalized due to treatiessigned in 1860 and 1893.

    Later, during World War I, Timor became underthe control of the Japanese, until the Portuguese once again regained possession. However, in 1975, political movements and civil war broke out causing so-called”disappearances,” executions, violence, crimes against humanity, and otheratrocities. Twenty-five years later, in 1999, atrocities still exist inEast Timor. Portugal ruled the colony with a ruthlessand brutal regime during the years before WWI. Despite attempts tobring peace to the island by breaking up the local kingdoms, the peopledid not change their lifestyles.

    Though people attempted to rebelagainst Portuguese rule, their attempts were crushed. The Japanese took over the island in 1941. Following the takeover, a small group of Allied troops with support fromthe natives waged guerilla warfare against the occupiers. While thesuccesses of the Allies were great, over 60,000 natives, almost 13% oftheir population, lost their lives. ( easttimor. com)After the War, the Portuguese fascist regimeruled the island as before.

    However, in 1974, the fall of the dictatorshipcompletely changed the mentality on the island. Three main politicalparties emerged, each having its own goals. The UDT (pro Portugal)and the ASDT (pro Independence) formed a coalition and the ASDT becamewhat is called as Fretilin. The other party, Adopedti (pro Indonesia)had little support in East Timor, but was backed by the military regimeof General Suharto in Indonesia. Soon after, the UDT withdrew fromthe ASDT, and they staged a coup against the ASDT and Fretilin in the capitalcity of Dili.

    Fretilin opposed the coup, conquered the UDT forces,and set up their own government. The Indonesian army invaded thetown of Batugade in December of 1975, causing more conflict. Afterthe fall of Batugade, Fretilin declared independence, and the Indonesianarmy invaded Dili on the 7th December. This takeover was violentand the Indonesian Army executed thousands of civilians.

    More than10% of the population of Dili were killed in the first four months, witha death toll nearing between 60,000 – 100,000 lives. ( easttimor. com )During the invasion of Dili in December1975, the Indonesian army committed horrible acts towards civilians. Apparently, according to Amnesty International, there are dozens of reportsthat tell of indiscriminate killings as the soldiers came into Dili.

    Civilians were rounded up like cattle as most were shot execution style,while others were apparently tied to poles and thrown into the ocean. Estimates of the death toll report that at least 10% of the capital’s populationwas murdered. Once the United States, Europe, and Australiagave backing to Indonesia, any resistance to them was crushed. Theatrocities never stopped from there.

    Entire villages were enclosedand the population was either executed or transported to camps. Thesecamps were like prisons, the people couldn’t even grow their own food,which is what they have relied on their entire lives. Thousands ofpeople starved in these camps. Villages were even subjected to chemicalweapons that destroyed their crops and poisoned their water.

    On November of 1991, a massacre by thearmy of peaceful protesters in Dili was videotaped and broadcast aroundthe world. This massacre soon became known as the Santa Cruz Massacre,after the cemetery where the massacre took place. Ensuing investigationsrevealed that at least 270 people, most of whom were children, were killedand that many others were imprisoned, tortured, and executed in the followingweeks. The Santa Cruz massacre caught the attention of theworld and brought up questions of the human rights situation in East Timor. In 1993, the UN Human Rights Commission passed a decree condemning Indonesia. After this decree, numerous organizations visited the country and decidedthat the human rights situation was intolerable.

    However, these wereshort-lived and basically accomplished nothing. Since 1991, killingshave continued, while harassment, torture, and imprisonment of suspectedopponents of Indonesian rule occurs everyday. The last few yearshave seen a growing amount of tension between the people of East Timorand the thousands of Indonesian migrants living there. These tensionshave resulted in occasional outbreaks of violence between the two groups.Within two months ago, according to theEast Timor homepage, twelve pregnant East Timorese women, seeking shelterin refugee camps, had their throats .

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