The troubles in East Timor arose, not because Indonesians, or anti-independence East Timorese are more violent or less democratic than any Europeans, but because when Western colonialists- in this case, mainly the Portuguese- were there, they converted forcibly or by economic enticement, large chunks of the island.
And not only they converted a people to a religion to tally alien to their culture and way of life, but also, like everywhere else in the Third World, they planted a seed of separatism: “Yours is the only true religion, the others are infidels and you should have no contact with them whatsoever”. So, a few generations later, the erstwhile natives want to be independent, with the result we have seen in East Timor.
Today the West sits in judgment of the “bad” Indonesians, or the wicked anti-independence East Timorese (read the non-Christians). But it forgets that for centuries it had shamefully exploited these colonies. Today the Prime Minister of Portugal has the effrontery to offer his country’s “good services” for the peaceful transition of East Timor to independence. But in the history of colonialism, the Portuguese rank first in terms of sheer brutality, rape, theft, murder, or conversions by force.
If Britain can battle thousands of miles away from home soil to keep the Falkland islands, which geographically belongs more to Argentina than England, if France fights to retain the island of Corsica in the face or repeated bombings and murders by separatists, if the United Statesman bomb Iraq because it has oil interests in Kuwait, then why should Indonesia not retain East Timor, or India fight to keep Kashmir, which has been part of its empire for thousands of years.
And no hypocrisy is greater than the one showed by the British, who divided on reign like none else during their colonial rule and left a mess everywhere. Today the BBC may pontificate about the violent ways of the IRA, the fanaticism of Muslim militias in East Timor, or the brutal hand of the Indian army in Kashmir, but it forgets that it is Britain which converted a part of Ireland to Protestantism, so also divide the beautiful island.
Of course Pakistan and other Islamic countries-and eventually America when it wants to pressurize India to its line of CTBT etc- will exploit to the hilt the East Timor plebiscite, by saying it creates a good precedent and that Kashmir should follow suit, But the result is foregone: whatever the India Government’s illusions; like in East Timor, 96 per cent of Kashmiris; of the valley would immediately mean appendage to Pakistan. But it is only because Indonesia went through a terrible economic crisis that it became weak and had to give in to the dictates of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UN, which are all controlled by the US.
And the condition for being bailed out economically was, of course, a referendum in East Timor. Today America prides itself in being the gendarme of the world and gives itself the right to bomb, kill, or imprison anybody it wants, regardless of international law.
One also witnesses in the rest of the Western world a dangerous moral belligerence, witness the cries for military intervention to implement independence in East Timor, by countries like Australia, which have the saddest human right record in dealing with their own aborigines, or by this arrogant and foolish man, Robin Cook, the British foreign secretary.
Instead of falling in the arms of the US, just because they have condescended to say a few good words about India’s handling of Kargil, New Delhi should fight against the dangerous univocal world which Washington is trying to impose upon us. And make strategic alliances with countries which have the same aspiration.
Such a country is France; and India must make some hard choices and select for instance Airbuses instead of Boeings for its national airlines and buy military hardware from France, The French government and sell India nuclear plants, regardless of what the international community will say.
And finally, there must be such things as karma are justice. The Dalai Lama, who is becoming more and more popular in the West, has often said that Tibet is paying today for, a “black karma” it committed countries ago. Thus it can’t be possible that countries like England or Portugal, which left a terrible legacy in the countries they colonized, including India, which split in three after independence, will not one day pay the price for their criminal deeds, which they hide behind the mask of bringing civilization to “heathen” natives.