On the weekend there was a snippet in my local newspaper, an excerpt from an overseas newspaper, and I want to reproduce it here (hoping that acknowledging the source absolves me from any copyright issues):
“Congratulations to the people of Timor Leste for their success in holding peaceful democratic elections. It is a rare feat that a newly independent nation, which counts among the world’s poorest, could go through the democratic process of selecting its leaders with little violence. Indonesia has a big stake in the evolution of a democratic and peaceful Timor Leste. Indonesia must do everything it can to help it become prosperous. Both countries have removed barriers that could have prevented them from working together by forming the Truth and Friendship Commission to resolve contentious issues from Indonesia’s brutal occupation. The real test for Timor Leste’s democracy will come after UN peacekeeping forces withdraw. Indonesia must be ready to support the people of Timor Leste then. As its giant neighbour, we owe it to them.”
Note: Timor Leste is what we know as East Timor.
For those of you not familiar with the background to this story, a bit of Googling will give you an idea of the tragedy that befell East Timor post-colonialism, of the thousands – most estimates say in the hundreds of thousands, as many as a third of the population – of lives brutally cut short during the Indonesian occupation, of the subjugation and suppression of those happy island people. There are many books which examine what happened to the people of East Timor. It is now the time for healing, though, and so those books must be read not just looking at the past with horror but with a view to the future with hope and optimism.