(fwd from Nick Fredman) Re: Jose Ramos Horta supports death for terrorists

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Thu Aug 21 04:18:00 MDT 2003

I've argued before with Tom and others here before that there's no
real evidence that the result of the East Timor independence struggle
increased support for imperialist adventures among Australian or East
Timorese working people, as opposed to among some Australian media
chatterers and some East Timorese bourgeois politicians (and Horta,
even in the 70s when he looked the revolutionary part in fatigues,
cool shades and huge affro, see John Pilger's Death of a Nation doco,
was always refreshingly honest about his right-wing and opportunist
politics). In fact the episode was very much related to the growth of
opposition movements against the conservative government in recent
years. Anyway I hadn't meant to restart this well-worn debate except
to pass on the lead letter in today's Melbourne Age (abridged also in
the Sydney Morning Herald) which is by a DSP member. There were
others letters along the same lines in both papers.


I was deeply shocked to hear news of the death of UN special
representative to the Secretary-General in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de
Mello, in Tuesday's suicide bombing in Baghdad.

I worked as Sergio's personal interpreter in East Timor for a
two-year period until last year, when he was UN transitional
administrator there. During that time I accompanied him and his staff
on a wide range of tasks and a number of trips to regional areas -
including meeting political parties and women running as candidates
for office in East Timor's Constituent Assembly elections in 2001 and
briefing Timorese non-government organisations on UN plans for the
country. It was a fascinating and very instructive experience to work
with Sergio, as the UN's highest officeholder in East Timor.

Unlike the UN mission in East Timor, which was seen by the population
as a step in the transition to independence, the UN in Iraq is seen
as an extension of US occupation - particularly through its
endorsement of US plans for the Iraqi economy, and the fact that the
country would bear the cost of reconstruction out of its own oil
revenue. This would be seen as deeply unjust by many Iraqis.

So long as the UN continues to mop up after US bombing and
destruction, it will be tainted with the same brush. The UN has
chosen simply to dovetail with US plans for Iraq, including support
for the US-appointed Governing Council.

Suicide bombings are the extreme forms of resistance to the US
occupation, but there have also been a number of peaceful protests,
involving thousands of people. So President Bush's attempt to
downplay this as simply another terrorist attack is denying the depth
of opposition to US policies. The tragedy of the war in Iraq is that
the oil interests of a handful of US-based companies have claimed the
lives of Iraqis, US soldiers - and now, UN representative Sergio
Vieira de Mello and other UN staff. It was an avoidable tragedy.
Vannessa Hearman,


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