DSP calls for immediate withdrawal of Australian troops from East Timor/Timor Leste

The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) is now calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Australian troops from East Timor. The September 9-10 meeting of the DSP national committee resolved to investigate the prospects for building a public campaign around this demand. Peter Boyle, the national secretary of the DSP, explained the reasons for this decision:

"Since May 2006, our position has been that the current Australian military intervention into East Timor – unlike the intervention in 1999 which we campaigned for because it would advance the national liberation struggle in that country – would not solve the underlying social and political crisis and marked a setback in the struggle.

"The current foreign military intervention was at the invitation of the then Fretilin government and then President Xanana Gusmao, and it appeared at the time to have the support of the full spectrum of East Timor politics. Until now the DSP has acquiesced to that invitation and has not raised the call for the Australian troops to be withdrawn. However, this across the spectrum agreement no longer exists.

"We always recognised that Australian political and military intervention in East Timor is to maintain order in the region in its role as regional "sheriff" to the major imperialist powers, defending the general interests of imperialism and capitalism as well as its direct interests in the region.

"Unfortunately, the various factions of the East Timorese ruling elite, including Fretilin and the forces around PM Xanana Gusmao and President Jose Ramos-Horta, have been a willing partners to imperialism in the attempted but failing bureaucratic construction of a capitalist neo-colonial state. They share significant responsibility for a deep economic crisis that underlay the 2006 political crisis. If the new Xanana-led government continues along this path, these crises will remain.

"The factional breaking up of the East Timor armed forces, which was the immediate trigger for the 2006 political crisis, was a consequence of the demobilization of the heroic national liberation movement that developed in the years under Indonesian occupation. The Howard government, which openly and vigorously supported the formation of a Xanana-led government, has made no secret that it wants to speed up and complete this demobilisation. It also wants the Timor Leste government to continue to implement the neo-liberal policies that have led to the greater impoverishment of the Timorese people.

"An Australian government that was truly friendly to the Timorese people should follow the Cuban example and send doctors and offer more scholarhips to the Timorese instead of troops and police to protect the interests of the corporate profit-makers. It would help build homes and schools and other badly needed the infrastructure. It would pay serious reparations for the many years of Liberal and Labor government support for the bloody Indonesian occupation of East Timor and stop stealing Timorese oil and gas resources.

"Cuban medical teams have worked in East Timor since 2004 to help create sustainable health system. Cuba has 302 doctors working throughout Timor-Leste. Cuba has offered full medical school scholarships for 1000 East Timorese students and 498 are already studying medicine in Cuba. By contrast, the number of Timorese studying in Australia on Australian government scholarships has never exceeded 20. This is shameful but very revealing of the difference between a capitalist and socialist government."

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