Conference on Autonomy for East Timor

Yale University will host a conference to explore the future of East Timor, Thursday, March 6, at 4 p.m. “The Question of Autonomy and Human Rights in East Timor” will be held in the Law School auditorium, 127 Wall Street.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony for over four hundred years, before it was annexed by Indonesia in the aftermath of a revolution in Portugal in 1974. This deprived East Timor of its right to self determination, with the possibility of gaining political status similar to that of the Azores, Macau, Angola, and other former possessions of the Portuguese. In addition, in the years since the annexation, the people of East Timor have been subjected to human rights abuses and forced population movements by the Indonesians.

At the Yale conference, Vasco Garcia, rector of the University of the Azores and author of four books on East Timor, will propose autonomy for East Timor similar to that of the Azores. Professor Garcia was a member of the European Parliament from 1986 to 1994 and remains an honorary member. He has been director of the Center for Strategics and International Relations at the University of the Azores.

With him will be representatives of political parties and the resistance movement from Timor: Joao Carrascalao, president of the Timorese Democrat Union; Armindo Maia, vice president of Dili University, East Timor; Constancio Pinto, representative of the National Council of the Maubere Resistance; and Sugeng Bahagijo, Indonesian activist with Human Rights Watch.

Participants from Yale will include Joseph Errington, professor of anthropology and East Asian languages and literatures, and acting director of the Council on Southeast Asia Studies; Patricia Pessar, associate professor of American Studies and anthropology; William Rapp, academic director of the International Relations Graduate Program, International Affairs Council; Paul Dubinksy, associate director of the Schell Center for International Human Rights at the Law School; Elizabeth Miranda Sissons, doctoral candidate in international relations; and Geoffrey Wiseman, visiting fellow, International Security Studies. K. David Jackson, Professor of Portuguese and chair of the Council on Latin American Studies, is the conference coordinator.

The conference is jointly sponsored by Yale’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Schell Center for International Human Rights, and International Relations Program, in cooperation with Oporto University in Portugal.

In addition to the Yale session, meetings on the future of East Timor and Indonesia will be held in New York City, Washington, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Vancouver during the coming weeks, organized by Oporto University, in conjunction with American academic institutions and the East Timor Action Network.

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