East Timor History And Australian Influence The Scots College History Essay

1160 words - 5 pages

Alec Bathgate
East Timor Assignment
History of East Timor
Throughout the history of the country known today as East Timor, there has been numerous events that shaped and created this unique area of land in Asia’s South-east. The Portuguese began to trade with Timor in the early 16th century and colonised it throughout mid-century. They fought with the Dutch in the region which eventually resulted in an 1859 treaty, where the Dutch were able to claim the western side of Timor, and the Portuguese remained on the East. After 400 years of ruling in the region, the Portuguese recognised East Timor’s right to self government, which is when they declared an intention to withdrawal. This withdrawal meant that East Timor was under its own rule, but Indonesia saw the opportunity to step in and claim the land. As they stepped into East Timor, it was when things began to get ugly. In 1975, conflict in the region began to spread, with those wanting independence against those supporting integration with Indonesia. This would eventually lead to Indonesia claiming East Timor as its 27th province in 1976. Throughout the period of 1976-99, many abolitionist movements began to try and rid the country of Indonesian influence. Many tried, but all failed, and the fighting between the two continued. At the end of August in 1999, The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was established to conduct a vote, which resulted in a landslide in favour of independence. Once the result was declared, Indonesian militia launched a campaign of violence throughout the region, where many East Timorese were killed and almost half a million displaced from their homes. The UN then sent in a peacekeeping operation to stop the anarchist society that was East Timor.
What Australia did
One of the main reasons why Australia decided to step in and help with the chaos was because they felt that they owed something to the East Timorese. During the Second World War, when a battalion of Australian soldiers were surrounded by opposing Japanese forces, the Timorese took initiative in the situation and helped the Australians by providing them with shelter and food to keep them healthy for the heavy combat against the Japanese. They put their lives at risk to save a bunch of strangers, which shows the spirit of the Timorese culture. Many Australians made it back home thanks to the courageous efforts from the Timorese. This is mainly why the Australian forces were sent in to prevent further loss of life, just as they did for us in WWII.
An Australian-led United Nations peacekeeping force was needed to bring an end to the violence and to administer the territory during the period of transition to sovereignty. The United Nations supported the Australian movement and began an extensive humanitarian support program to provide emergency assistance for those Timorese in need. Apart from this, only one nation actually entered the country to do combat with the Indonesian forces and bring an end to the...

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