“Australia wanted East Timor to remain an Indonesian province and the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, lobbied Jakarta to delay a vote for independence, a report to the United Nations has found.
“East Timor’s truth and reconciliation commission has been collecting evidence from thousands of witnesses for the past three years about Indonesia’s takeover of the former Portuguese colony in 1975.
“It also makes special mention of the more recent role of Mr Downer before the vote for independence in 1999. It says he lobbied Indonesia to delay the poll because it was in Australia’s interests for East Timor to remain part of the archipelago.
“‘The commission finds that, even when [the Indonesian president B.J.] Habibie was moving towards his decision to offer the East Timorese a choice between remaining part of Indonesia and independence…[Mr] Downer made it clear that his government believed it should be several years before the East Timorese exercised their right to make that choice and that it would be preferable…if Timor-Leste remained legally part of Indonesia.'”
Dr Clinton Fernandes, author of “Reluctant Saviour“, has long known that the myth of the Howard government’s “liberation” of East Timor deserved greater scrutiny. Indeed, the government encouraged Indonesia’s brutal suppression of East Timor until the very last minute, until massive public outcry forced a change of policy.