The 1999 Australian intervention in East Timor

Timor Gap dispute highlights motives behind Australian intervention

By Mike Head, 25 October 2000

An impasse in negotiations between Australia and the UN over the future of the immense oil and natural gas deposits beneath the Timor Sea has thrown a new spotlight on Australia's claim to have sent troops to East Timor last year for humanitarian reasons.

US threats over Timor militias raise political tensions in Indonesia

By James Conachy, 30 September 2000

Mounting international insistence that Indonesia comply with the September 8 UN Security Council resolution to disarm and disband the militia groups operating in West Timor is heightening instability within the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Australian government launches police raids over leaked Timor documents

By Mike Head, 23 September 2000

In a clumsy bid to silence critics of its record in East Timor and Indonesia, the Howard government has launched a series of police raids over last year's leaking to the media of intelligence documents relating to the militia violence in East Timor.

Documents reveal that Australia urged Indonesia to invade East Timor in 1975

By Mike Head, 18 September 2000

Official documents released by the Australian government last week confirm that the Whitlam Labor government actively encouraged the Suharto regime in Indonesia to invade East Timor in 1975, a policy that led to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 Timorese people in the following years.

East Timor and Australia's oily politics

By Mike Head, 8 March 2000

Among the most revealing aspects of recent events in East Timor has been the almost complete silence in Australian media and political circles about the two agreements signed by the Australian government last month to secure control over the multi-billion dollar oil and natural gas reserves beneath the Timor Sea.

Australian government secures new East Timor oil treaty

By Mike Head, 15 February 2000

In a little reported ceremony, UN and Australian government representatives signed a new Timor Gap Treaty in Dili last Thursday, securing control over the substantial oil and natural gas reserves under the Timor Sea. The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has now officially replaced Indonesia as Australia's partner in exploiting these reserves, valued at between $11 billion and $19 billion.

Report on East Timor atrocities sets stage for political confrontation in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 2 February 2000

General Wiranto, Indonesia's top security minister and former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) chief, indicated yesterday he will defy demands by President Abdurrahman Wahid to resign from cabinet after he was named in a report by the Indonesia's Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP HAM). Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, Wahid said that he would call on Wiranto to resign when he returns to Indonesia on February 17.

US dollar to be official currency in East Timor

By Mike Head, 31 January 2000

The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) announced last Monday that the US dollar would be the official currency of the former Portuguese colony and Indonesian territory. As a result, government transactions must be conducted in dollars for at least the two to three years of UNTAET's expected rule.

Resentment mounts against UN administration in East Timor

By Linda Tenenbaum, 21 January 2000

Four months after the Australian-led military occupation of East Timor, the United Nations is establishing a colonial-style administration in the former Indonesian territory. Already, its callous indifference to the plight of the local population is fuelling growing resentment. While hundreds of millions of dollars have been pledged in aid by the major countries, ordinary East Timorese face an ongoing social disaster.

Australian union joins building companies to win contracts in East Timor

By Terry Cook, 1 December 1999

Australian companies are already positioning themselves to reap lucrative contracts for reconstruction work in East Timor. For the last two months, Multiplex, one of Australia's leading construction companies, has been busy cultivating relations with the leadership of the National Council for Timor Resistance (CNRT) who will be central in determining where the millions of dollars promised for reconstruction will be spent.

Official disinterest over tens of thousands still missing in East Timor

By Linda Tenenbaum, 20 November 1999

Eight weeks have passed since the UN's Australian-led Interfet force occupied East Timor. In that time the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has been established, and its leading personnel selected. Some of them, including UNTAET's chief, Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello have already arrived in Dili.

East Timor: the history and politics of the CNRT

By Mike Head, 17 November 1999

Recent months have seen considerable promotion of the East Timorese leaders by the international media and various governments, particularly in Europe and Australia. Led by Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta, members of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) have been hailed as veteran fighters for independence.

The UN in East Timor: all the trappings of a colonial protectorate

By Linda Tenenbaum, 6 November 1999

On October 25 the United Nations Security Council voted to set up an interim administration in East Timor with the purported aim of assisting the tiny territory's transition to “independence. As with the 15-nation “peacekeeping” force (INTERFET), currently deployed under Australian leadership, the real purpose of the mission is to open the half-island up to the major powers. Lucrative investments will be on offer, as well as the exploitation of East Timor's natural resources and significant reserves of cheap labour.

Indonesia votes to hand over East Timor to UN control

By Peter Symonds, 21 October 1999

Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) voted in the early hours of Wednesday to endorse the results of the UN-organised referendum on East Timor and to rescind the body's 1978 decree declaring the former Portuguese colony to be the country's 27th province.

East Timor provokes Australian foreign policy crisis

By Linda Tenenbaum, 14 October 1999

Less than a month after it began, Australia's military deployment into East Timor has provoked rising political tensions and a profound crisis in foreign policy. The intensifying pressures exploded last week in a public slanging match between current Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his immediate predecessor, the former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating.

Australian special forces operating in East Timor months before UN ballot

By Peter Symonds, 12 October 1999

Australian special forces and navy divers were involved in clandestine operations inside East Timor months before Indonesia gave the go-ahead for the Australian-led Interfet troops to land in the territory, according to an article published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Public meetings to be held in Australia

Military intervention in East Timor: What are the real motives?

9 October 1999

The Socialist Equality Party (Australia) has issued an invitation to all those who wish to understand and discuss the driving forces behind recent events in East Timor to attend public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne, in late October and early November. Under the title "Military intervention in East Timor: What are the real motives?" the meetings will explain the economic, political and strategic interests at stake and advance an alternative socialist and internationalist strategy.

Australian led "peace-keepers" strike temporary deal with Falintil in East Timor

By Linda Tenenbaum, 6 October 1999

The Australian-led “peacekeeping” force in East Timor, has struck a deal with Falintil commanders allowing pro-independence guerillas to keep their weapons—but only temporarily, and in specially-designated areas.

What the UN knew about militia violence in East Timor

By Nick Beams, 6 October 1999

Below we publish a reply by Nick Beams, a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site , to a letter to the WSWS defending the role of the UN in East Timor. The letter was written in response to the article “Kosovo and East Timor: a reply to a WSWS reader” published on October 1. For those who wish to read the text of the letter in full, a link is provided at the conclusion of this reply.

Kosovo and East Timor: a reply to a WSWS reader

By Nick Beams, 1 October 1999

Below we publish the reply, prepared by Nick Beams, a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, to a letter sent to the WSWS on the Australian-led UN intervention into East Timor by a reader in New Zealand. For those who wish to read the text of the letter in full, a link is provided at the conclusion of this reply.

The Western powers and East Timor—a history of manoeuvre and intrigue

By Nick Beams, 1 October 1999

Claims that the Australian-led United Nations military intervention in East Timor is motivated by “humanitarian” concerns are belied by the historical record. The tragedy befalling the East Timorese people is the outcome of intrigues and manoeuvres, stretching back over decades, by the very imperialist powers now proposing to “save” them. As much of this record is not well known, it is worthwhile reviewing it in some detail.

Australia heading for a "quagmire" in East Timor

By Peter Symonds, 28 September 1999

Just over a week after the Australian-led International Force for East Timor (Interfet) began landing in the capital of Dili, the realisation is dawning in Canberra that the operation could become bogged down in a protracted and dirty guerrilla war.

Australian imperialism and East Timor: The Prime Minister's Address to the Nation

By Nick Beams, 21 September 1999

Delivering his “Address to the Nation” on national television on Sunday night, Australian Prime Minister John Howard opened a new chapter in the history of Australian imperialism.

Indonesians protest against security bill and Timor atrocities

By Mike Head, 18 September 1999

In events little reported outside Indonesia, security forces this week fired shots and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators protesting in Jakarta and other major cities against a draft bill on state security and the military terror in East Timor.

Correspondence on East Timor

17 September 1999

I attended the GPO rally in support of the East Timor people and also democracy as a supreme political principle. I read your analysis and found myself disgusted enough to write to you.

East Timor and protest politics

By Linda Tenenbaum, 17 September 1999

Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Australia's major cities over the past week to express outrage at the Indonesian military-organised carnage in East Timor. Many are deeply suspicious of the Howard government's motives in pushing for an Australian-led UN “peacekeeping” force, mindful of Australia's record of intimate collaboration with the blood-soaked Indonesian regime for the past quarter century.

Indonesia's accomplices spearhead East Timor "peacekeeping" force

By Barry Grey, 16 September 1999

Following passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution mandating the deployment of a multinational “peacekeeping” force in East Timor, American and Australian officials have stressed that the Australian-led troops will operate in cooperation with the Indonesian military.

"Shoot-to-kill" mandate

Vietnam War veteran to command Australian forces in Timor

By Mike Head, 15 September 1999

The Australian government decided yesterday to name a decorated Vietnam War veteran to head the Australian and United Nations force to be dispatched to Indonesian-occupied East Timor. His selection highlights the aggressive nature of the operation being prepared under the disguise of humanitarianism.

East Timor and Kosovo: Indonesian atrocities expose US hypocrisy on “human rights”

By Barry Grey, 13 September 1999

Only a few months ago the US government and the American media were engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to portray the war against Serbia as a crusade for human rights. The American and international public were bombarded with daily reports of mass murder, rape and forced expulsions of Albanian Kosovars by Serbian forces, and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was routinely compared to Hitler.

Australian government threatens to imprison Timorese refugees

By Mike Head, 11 September 1999

The hypocrisy of the Australian government's claims to be concerned by the fate of the East Timorese people has been exposed by its threat to detain fleeing refugees. Australia's northern coast is only 600 kilometres from Timor, making it feasible for the victims of the Indonesian terror to seek sanctuary, whether by boat or evacuation flights.

Australia prepares military intervention in East Timor

What are the real motives?

By Nick Beams, 8 September 1999

Moves by the Howard government and the Australian military to lead an armed intervention in East Timor have nothing to do with protecting the interests and welfare of the East Timorese people against the terror campaign unleashed by Indonesian-organised militia forces.

Pressure stepped up for UN force in East Timor

By Nick Beams, 7 September 1999

Mounting pressure is being applied by the major Western powers on the Indonesian government of President B. J. Habibie to invite a United Nations military force to take over administration of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor. The growing demand for UN military intervention comes as Indonesian army backed militia groups step up their terror campaign against the East Timorese population following last Saturday's announcement of a 78.5 percent vote for independence.

After vote for secession

Western powers accelerate plans for military intervention in Timor

By Mike Head, 4 September 1999

Western powers are bringing forward plans for military intervention in the Indonesian-occupied former Portuguese colony of East Timor following today's release of the results of last Monday's United Nations-supervised ballot on secession.

Clashes continue in Dili as

East Timorese prepare to vote in UN referendum

By Peter Symonds, 28 August 1999

Just days before the UN-supervised referendum was due to take place over the future of East Timor, violent clashes erupted in the capital of Dili between pro-Indonesian militia groups and supporters of the separatist National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT).

Leaked documents show ...

Plan to send 15,000 US Marines to East Timor

By Mike Head, 12 August 1999

Leaked Australian documents show that White House officials and US military commanders have detailed plans to send 15,000 Marines to the Indonesian province of East Timor, before or after the scheduled August 30 vote on secession, under the pretext of protecting the Timorese people from the Indonesian military.

US pushes for military involvement in East Timor

By Mike Head, 7 August 1999

The Clinton administration in Washington is pushing for a substantial military involvement—including US Marines—in East Timor. The force would be deployed before or after the people of the half island vote in an August 30 UN-run ballot on secession from Indonesia. According to two media reports, the US proposals have led to tensions with the Howard government in Australia.