Mass support for the demand of the East Timorese people for independence from Indonesia was confirmed by a huge majority vote in the recent referendum. Working people and other opponents of political, social, and economic injustice wholeheartedly support the right to self-determination of the oppressed masses in East Timor.
But the decision by the United Nations (UN) to send military forces to allegedly “protect” the advocates of independence from the murderous Indonesian militias is a very different matter.
The track record of UN military interventions -from Korea in 1950-53 to Iraq in 1990-91, to mention only the two most outstanding-has been a tragic one for the peoples of the world.
During the Korean War, UN forces, overwhelmingly made up of American troops, were responsible for the deaths of nearly 3 million Koreans and Chinese and the complete ravaging of North Korea, a condition from which that impoverished country is still reeling.
UN military forces in the Gulf War killed over 250,000 Iraqis. Since then, hundreds of thousands of others-mostly children-have died due to the criminal UN-imposed economic sanctions on Iraq.
Be advised, when the word “humanitarian” is used to describe UN military interventions the language being spoken is doublespeak.
The real motive of the imperialist powers operating under the cover of the United Nations is hardly to protect the East Timorese people or defend their right to self-determination. Among their first actions, UN troops have begun rounding up and disarming the Falintil guerrillas, the only force that represents the Timorese and has offered them some protection against the imperialist-backed Indonesian occupiers.
Like the recent U.S./NATO assault on Yugoslavia, the UN intervention in East Timor is designed to “legitimatize” a far more massive intervention in the near future.
UN Secretary Kofi Annan has already announced that this imperialist alliance intends to set up an administration to rule East Timor for “two to three years.” Such an “interim” regime will obviously set the stage for imposing a subservient neocolonial government.
The sordid record of imperialism
The past record of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, along with the other major imperialist powers, reveals their real motives and intentions. All these powers said nothing when Indonesia barbarically annexed East Timor in 1975.
And they all gave approval when General Suharto staged a military coup in 1965 and proceeded to massacre over 500,000 leftist workers and farmers.
The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Britain-the whole murderers’ row- financed, armed, and trained the Indonesian military when it was engaged in the slaughter of 200,000 Timorese civilians, and continue military support to the Indonesian regime even now.
Today, the objective of UN intervention is the same as the imperialist powers’ reason for supporting Indonesian occupation of the country in the first place, to assure imperialist domination by suppressing the struggles of the Timorese and Indonesian working people.
As the living standards of Indonesia’s masses continue to plummet, both under the pressure from IMF-imposed austerity programs and the general Asian economic crisis, the workers, farmers, and their student allies will be left with no choice but to take the road of mass resistance, and ultimately, the road to social revolution.
A grave mistake
Unfortunately, many supporters of the struggle for the right to self-determination by the people of East Timor have demanded UN military intervention. This is a grave mistake that will prove costly to both the struggle for independence by the people of East Timor and the struggle by Indonesian workers for liberation from imperialist super-exploitation and oppression.
And for those like the Australian Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), which claims to be committed to the working class and socialism, it is worse than a mistake; it is a gross violation of the working-class principle of class independence. The DSP’s crime is compounded by its demand that its own Australian capitalist government send our class brothers in the Australian army into East Timor to serve as the deadly instrument of their own capitalist class.
Those that support the current UN military action in East Timor have by that action helped the enemies of Indonesia’s and East Timor’s workers and farmers. And they have eased the way for an imperialist military intervention, under the banner of the UN, to crush any mass uprising against the bloody Indonesian capitalist government.
Self-determination for the people of East Timor! All UN and imperialist troops out of East Timor!