Tibetans wish ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œcourage and wisdom’ to East Timorese
21 May, 2002 Dharamsala, India: Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan Cabinet, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche congratulated East Timor president Xanana Gusmao – a 55-year-old poet and former guerrilla fighter who spent seven years in jail and under house arrest, on its Independence Day.
“I have been following the developments in East Timor with great interest. I wish to congratulate you and your colleagues with the tremendous work which has been done to make the transition to peace, reconciliation and independence possible,” said Samdhong Rinpoche.
“I am well aware of the tremendous challenges which you and the people of East Timor face, and I wish you all the courage and wisdom that you may need,” continued the message.
East Timor celebrated its independence on Monday, 20 May, 2002 after over 300 years of foreign rule. Portugal ended 300 years of colonial rule in 1975. Soon after Indonesia invaded in December 1975, and annexed East Timor as its 27th province. After Indonesian President Suharto was forced from power in 1998, his successor, B.J. Habibie, agreed to a U.N.-supervised independence referendum. East Timor voted for independence on 30 August, 1999. About 250,000 East Timorese fled to West Timor when anti-independence militiamen went on a rampage after the vote. International peacekeepers landed on 20 September, 1999. The territory was administered by the United Nations until its independence May 20, 2002. Nearly 210,000 refugees returned home from West Timor during that time.
“I know that you and your government will take principled positions with respect to the struggles of people for self-determination, human rights and democracy. I hope that you will maintain your principled position and apply it to other similar cases,” reminded Kalon Tripa of the exiled Tibetan Cabinet.