Thursday, January 10th, 2019 Marching in Garuda's Nest: East Timor's Path to Independence through Jakarta

Thursday, January 10, 20194:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place


The independence struggle of East Timor from Indonesia rested on a three-pronged strategy. An aspect of it was to Indonesianize the war that Jakarta had unleashed on the half-island country. Under the overall guidance – and sometimes strict instructions – of their nationalist movement, East Timorese students and activists across Indonesia progressively broke the government’s stranglehold on information about East Timor. They informed the Indonesian public and forged formidable alliances with Indonesian human rights activist and political reformists. These Indonesians rallied against the day-to-day human right violations that the Indonesian military committed in East Timor and gradually came to recognize that the exercise of the right to self-determination in East Timor was a step in the direction of their much-delayed democratic transition. This talk will explore how it was that the East Timorese nationalists marched – and won – in Jakarta while fighting a losing battle in East Timor itself.

Dr. Awet T. Weldemichael is a former refugee goatherd and currently a stateless person. He is an Associate Professor and Queen’s National Scholar in the Department of History at Queen’s University. He holds a Ph.D. in history and LL.M. in public international law. He studied the history and politics of Northeast Africa and Southeast Asia and wrote a dissertation on the East Timorese and Eritrean struggles for independence from Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively. He is the author of Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared (Cambridge, 2013), among others. He has since been researching Northeast African political economy of conflict and his book on the root causes, dynamics and consequences of maritime piracy in Somalia has just been published (Piracy in Somalia: Violence and Development in the Horn of Africa). He has previously held teaching and research positions at African, European and U.S. universities; and has worked for United Nations peacekeeping and The Carter Center election monitoring.


Dr. Awet T. Weldemichael
Department of History, Queen's University

Nhung Tran
Director, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies; Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto


Centre for Southeast Asian Studies

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