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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975


The Portuguese colony of East Timor has received much press coverage in this country as a result of the civil war between Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor) and UDT (Timor Democratic Union) which broke out as a result of a coup by the UDT.

A previous article in Salient 17 described the appalling poverty and backwardness of the country. Timorese subsist on the lowest per capita income in the whole of South-East Asia. The incidence of illiteracy at the time of the April 1974 coup in Portugal was estimated at 90%. Despite a strong literacy campaign being run by Fretilin based on the method of Paulo Friere the incidence of illiteracy is relatively unchanged today

While the fascists held power in Portugal, political discussion and organisation was not possible in East Timor. The majority of the people received their political awakening with the April coup. Now, just eighteen months later they are being asked to take sides in a civil war. What is more the civil war is between two parties who were recently in alliance with each other for the purposes of negotiating with the Portuguese.