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Era of the little guy?|
The recent success of the independence movement in East Timor has again demonstrated the sublimity of people power.
Throughout the Asia Pacific region there are similar movements born either out of past colonization or the suspicious drawing of country borders during post World War II decolonization.
In Indonesia alone the provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya are clamoring for separate states. In the Philippines, there is still a movement for a Muslim state unhappy with the autonomy agreed to by Bangsa Moro leader Nur Misuari. There are also numerous other autonomy movements in the Philippines.
China has to deal with the Tibetan and Uyghur desire for independence. The Tibetans have been better than most at attracting major Western celebrities to support their cause.
In India, there are numerous movements for independent or autonomous states. The Nagas and Sikhs are among the more notable such groups.
One hears less about similar aspirations in regions colonized by the West. In New Caledonia and French Polynesia, people power has spilled over into violence in recent years. Oscar Temaru's independence organization based in Papeete has made major gains through the electoral process.
Palau was the most recent Micronesian state to gain independence from the United States, and there is a strong movement in Guam and even in the state of Hawai`i.
The Hawaiian sovereignty/independence theme has become so strong that no one seriously aspiring to major political office will dare say anything that might seem unsympathetic. Indeed, politicians from Governor Cayetano to Senator Inouye have gone out of their way to express their support, at least, for the basic concerns of Hawaiian sovereignty.
Given the recent history of people power movements, one can't help but think we are moving into an era when might isn't so right anymore. Of course, not all these movements have been successful. But even where there has been failure we don't see the flame extinguishing the way it might have in the past.
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