I just wanted to share this moment of joy. Today I woke up in an Independent East Timor. Four years ago, East Timor’s plight represented for me the plainest example of the callousness, cynicism and injustice of the media, of politicians, of the mystical “international community”… it was a source of a sort of bitter personal awakening for me at age 18.
Now I can say, that while living in East Timor for 9 months has only deepened for me the complexity of the words “justice” and “independence,” I can see today as the truly emotional and unforgettable day that it is.
Independence was achieved at the sacrifice of over 200,000 lives. I have friends here who are literally “orphaned” — losing not just their nuclear family, but their ENTIRE extended family to the conflict — while the world turned its back. Independence is perhaps also consequence of invisible macro-economic forces, of perfect timing, of small but acute pressure by activists and politicians in key countries around the world.
And no matter how bogged down any independent country becomes in irritating and mundane politics, I can verify that this moment of Independence: to believe and know in your heart that you are no longer subject to an aggressive foreign occupier, is too profound to describe. Only three years ago, in this country, you could not walk at night. You could not drive 9 km out of town to the beach without passing a belligerant army checkpoint. Women were harrassed and raped or taken as warbrides. People were not allowed to speak their own language. They were taught Indonesian propoganda in schools, and frightened by irresponsible and even malevolent doctors and medical clinics.
Today is truly a day to celebrate. I think it is a universal human emotion, the feeling of release and euphoria that accompanies this day! Strangely, these feelings have taken many of us by surprise even though we have been working and building up to this day for nearly seven months.
I wanted to share this moment with you all, my friends and family, because I know sometimes you may have been perplexed by my interest in East Timor. I hope that you can share a part of these feelings with me.
In the words of President Xanana Gusmao, let us celebrate:
“Independence! As a people, as a territory, as a nation! One body, one mind, one wish!”
Viva Timor Lorosa’e!