Subject: O Jornal: Editorial

O Jornal, a Portuguese and English language weekly that serves southern New England, Editorial

Congratulations to East Timor

On May 20, Xanana Gusmao will be installed as the first democratically elected president of East Timor.

It was about 12 years ago that the Free East Timor Action Network (ETAN) out of Providence began working towards freeing East Timor from Indonesia, which annexed it in 1975 shortly after the Portuguese withdrew.

Through the support of the U.S. Military, the Indonesians suppressed the freedoms of the East Timorese and killed more than 200,000 in a 25-year span. Sadly up until ETAN and a few brave reporters began making noise about the conditions there, the United States barely acknowledged the lack of human rights the East Timorese endured.

Gusmao himself was imprisoned in the 1980s. Thankfully, the oppression of the East Timorese began to be noticed in the mid 1990s and even the United States, which supplied the Indonesian military with the weapons used to oppress the Timorese, began to cool towards Indonesia.

Finally in 1998, the dams broke and an election was called for. In 1999, the people there gave almost unanimous approval to succession from Indonesia. Gusmao was freed and now United States President George W. Bush is sending former President Bill Clinton to represent the United States at his installation.

Ironically, East Timor was cited by Osama bin Laden as an example of Western interference in the Eastern World. In fact, the United States now finds itself looking to East Timor as a partner in their struggles against terrorism.

While we applaud the United States' new found interest in East Timor, we can't help but believe it should do all in its power to help this young nation develop an economy, control its debt and protect its borders. After all, their president is a living symbol of the dream of the East Timorese and of all those who believe in freedom and self-determination.

Parabéns East Timor!


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