|Subject: Tibetan exiles congratulate Timor
AFP Tibetan exiles congratulate Timor
May 23 2002
The Tibetan government-in-exile has congratulated East Timor on its independence.
"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," the prime minister of the exiled Tibetan government, Samdhong Rinpoche, said in a letter to East Timor's first president, Xanana Gusmao, yesterday.
"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," Rinpoche said.
East Timor declared its independence on Monday. Indonesia had invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in 1975 and annexed it a year later in a move not recognised by the United Nations.
The East Timorese voted in August 1999 for independence from Indonesia in a UN-sponsored ballot, sparking a bloody rampage by Indonesian army-backed militias. Later that year a UN body was set up to run the territory until independence.
Tibetan exiles in India, headed by their spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, accuse Beijing of conducting a concerted campaign over 40 years to crush their unique culture.
The Dalai Lama and his followers fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
Two years ago the Tibetans used the slogan: "Referendum in East Timor in 1999, 2000 in Tibet?"
Rinpoche urged East Timor to remember other peoples struggling for self-detemination.
"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."
India is home to some 100,000 Tibetans who have followed the Dalai Lama into exile.
Tibetans wish 'courage and wisdom' to East Timorese
Dharamsala, India: 21 May, 2002 (TibetNet) - 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 (sic) 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.
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