Thursday, May 25, 2006

International Troops Sent to East Timor to Halt Uprising

East Timor has been under great tension for the last two months, since the government fired 40 percent of the military after they went on strike. This recent increase in violence is the worst fighting the country has seen since its fight for freedom from Indonesia in 1999. That violence ended a 24-year occupation by Indonesia during which an estimated 200,000 were killed.

Earlier this week, the government asked for international military support to help quash the rebellion. Australia has pledged 1300 troops to aid East Timor’s 800-member army. Other countries have also committed personnel to the effort, including Portugal, the former colonizer of the country, New Zealand, and Malaysia. The initial deployment of Australian troops was eagerly welcomed at the airport by hundreds of East Timorese.

The violence has led to the evacuation of the Australian and U.S. Embassy staff. The United Nations Security Council has opened discussions on the situation, although Australian Prime Minister John Howard believes that “once all of our forces are there, there will be a significant return of stability and normality.”

The leader of the rebellion has told the BBC that the international troops’ arrival is the only thing preventing a civil war. These soldiers believe that they were the subjects of discrimination because they came from a different part of the small nation than the military commanders.

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