APCET: Child of a People’s Struggle

(Note: Digital Copy Only, Not for Reproduction.)

This book was a long time coming.

We had intended to put down in writing the more than 10 years of our work, in supporting the struggle for self-determination of the East Timorese through the regional solidarity formation that we helped establish: the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET).

Our purpose was to sum up our experience and draw valuable lessons and practices – both good and not so good- those were generated by our accompaniment so as to share the discourse to those who find themselves in akin situations today and in the future.

APCET- its acronym embodied what it set out to do – “upsetting” the then status quo about East Timor: Indonesian generals and politicians, ASEAN heads of state and foreign ministers, Western governments and corporations, UN officials, and perhaps some East Timorese too who believed that remaining as Indonesia’s “27th province” was the better fate for their people.

At the end of the day, APCET’s story is East Timor’s story. People, friends, groups like APCET were only there to journey with the East Timorese even if we resonated passionately with their issues. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this relationship. Lessons that we could have learned and put into practice outright. Lessons learned from hindsight. Lessons that we only learned after some hard chewing. Lessons we learned after some comparative study. And there are still some more even to learn after we write this book. As some lessons are also reiteration of already those we know from previous experiences.

And like the struggle that we were accompanying, these lessons were learned the difficult way. Sometimes without the benefit of foresight. But most often only with the benefit of gumption and passion.

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