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Subject: Communist Influence in Fretilin prior to the 1975 invasion
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 22:23:44 +1000
From: "James Dunn" <>

As one who was in East Timor prior to the invasion of Dili in December 1975 I would like to make it clear that communist influence in Fretilin at that time was negligible. The Fretilin leadership was essentially a nationalist movement, with only a handful having any interest in Marxism. Perhaps the most radical was Abilio Araujo, today a discredited Fretilin leader who became close to the Suharto regime. On many occasions the main Fretilin leaders, Nicolau Lobato and Xavier do Amaral, assured me that they had no intention of aligning Fretilin with the major communist powers, which in the event gave them no support until after the invasion, and that was soon to be eroded in the wheeling and dealing of international politics.

In Canberra both the Soviet and Chinese Ambassadors insisted to me that their governments had no interest in East Timor. At no stage was there any serious attempt by the communist powers to supply Fretilin with arms or any other form of supplies.

Of course the Indonesian military sought to persuade US, Australia and others that E Timor posed a communist threat, but there was never any shred of evidence to support it. In fact after the civil war the Fretilin leaders sent a message to Jakarta, which sought to assure the Indonesian government that an independent East Timor would not support any form of communist insurgency.

In the circumstances I find the report referred to difficult to believe.

James Dunn

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