South Sudan gains its independence today – with many more dark clouds than East Timor had at the time. Troubling reports of fighting and of mass displacements in the border regions.
East Timor’s struggle against an invading force was quite different that South Sudan’s. In 1998, a referendum (and a half-hearted ceasefire) was brokered. 1999 was the year the referendum, the build-up and the bloody aftermath and mass displacement of the East Timorese population.
After a horrendous scorched earth campaign which cost many lives, transferred much wealth to Indonesia, and seriously disrupted the territory, East Timorese had over 2 years of UN administration before they formally declared independence (for a second time).
I cannot help but see events in South Sudan as a sort of “pile-up” of Timor’s 1999 and 2002. Continue reading