Sunday, April 14, 2013
GOA LIBERATION by Paulo Dias
1. & 2. I agree that a sovereign nation has the right to protect itself and its citizens. Native Goans were full Portuguese citizens since 1757 by Royal Decree signed by Portuguese King D. Jose I, (190 years before the creation of the Republic of India). One cannot say that the Republic of India was protecting its citizens in Goa because Goans were definitely not Indian citizens in 1961.
You then say that a sovereign nation has the right to acquire territory. From where does the right to acquire another nation's territory come in today’s world? Are you saying that the Republic of India has the right to acquire Sri-Lanka? Or Iraq has the right to re-acquire Kuwait? Or Spain has the right to re-acquire Portugal? And such right is granted under International Law?
Your views seem to reflect Iraq's views when it invaded Kuwait few years ago. You see, Iraq's problem was that Kuwait was a rich-in-oil territory and soon managed to get the attention of US, UK, France, and several other nations that under a UN resolution quickly restored the sovereignty of Kuwait by liberating it from Iraq.
No doubt that centuries ago, many nations went down the conquest route but that was long time ago in a very different era. The world has developed enormously since then. I believe that the creation of the United Nations
Organization after World War II put a stop to all these so called wars, conquests and territory claims, once and for all. With the creation of the UN, nations became signatories of international agreements and recognized the existence of International Law, where conquests just do not make any sense anymore. Both India and Portugal were signatories of these international agreements and UN resolutions.
UN General Assembly's Resolution dated 14 December 1960 recognized the right of self-determination of all non-self governing territories which surely included Goa. Portugal would have granted independence to Goa, in the same way that it granted independence to all other Portuguese provinces. Sooner or later it would have happened and then Goa would have to decide its future which maybe included the natural accession to the Republic of India. I am not saying that accession would have been the wrong option but at least we would have been given the option.
The Republic of India, which was a new recently created country (1947) played their "India" card very well. It somehow managed to persuade many Goans that Goa had always been a part of India and therefore Portugal would have to give Goa back to India. Of course from an historic context, that word "India" could only refer to the Indian subcontinent and * definitely not * to the newly created country (1947) called The Republic of India.
However, many Goans bought that Indian history book and with the passing years it became a best seller in India and in the Indian Diaspora. Many other publications were forbidden (and remain today) forbidden circulation in the Republic of India, like for example Leo Lawrence's book - Nehru seizes Goa-, which reveals the other side of history and states in detail analysis what the so called Goan "liberation" was all about. Leo Lawrence's reference is definitely recommended reading for anyone wanting to research more about this subject. But be aware that -Nehru Seizes Goa- is still a forbidden book in the Republic of India today and you can be arrested if you are found in possession of a copy.
More and more people are becoming aware that the only really true links between Goa and the country called The Republic of India are ethnicity and geography. Goan identity is different and unique but is disappearing with every passing day and we sossegado Goans failed to create the basic self-defence mechanisms to protect our identity. Yes, I agree we are all of Indian origin because obviously we all come from the Indian subcontinent.
But mind you, the Pakistanis and the Bangladeshi also come from the region that was once called the Indian Subcontinent but they definitely do not say that they are of Indian origin because their actual country names do not contain the word "India". So, perceptions do change and we have to accept each other's opinions, within reason.
3. & 4. Yes I totally agree and accept your statement that "the Portuguese were beaten to the punch by the Indians" (-your statement).
What I find very hard to understand is the fact that you and other Goans acknowledge and accept that the Republic of India ruled that "GOA IS CONQUERED TERRITORY" (-your statement in capitals) but continue to refer to the same event as an act of liberation by The Republic of India.
I fail to understand how a superior power like the Republic of India can liberate, acquire and conquer Goa all at the same time. This surely is a contradiction even to the most stubborn Goan amongst us! Conquest and liberation are surely more like antonymous than synonymous. Don't you agree?
Should we Goans then be thankful that we have been liberated and conquered by the Republic of India at the same time? Is that what you really believe?
I totally accept that we have been conquered on the 19th Dec. 1961 by The Republic of India and like you say, "There is no denying this fact" (-your statement). Having accepted that fact, what I cannot then accept is the fact that we have also been liberated simultaneously. It is as simple as that. I think we all need to dedicate some time to reflect on this to certainly realise that conquest and liberation cannot be on the same side and we are either conquered or liberated. But not conquered and liberated together because it just does not make any sense.
So, surely, I accept the reality that we have been conquered by the Republic of India (like you say) and I am prepared to move on.
5. The surrender of the Luso/Goan forces in Goa was in total agreement with the Geneva Convention which dictated that in case of war and to avoid mass loses, the surrendering forces were even expected to "sleep with the enemy" (exaggeration, of course). So, no surprises there except for the reaction of Salazar who was stupid enough to expect the Luso/Goan forces to resist till the last men. However, what not many people are aware is that both Portugal and India treated the Luso/Goan prisoners of war horribly and shamefully.
The Goans who belonged to the Portuguese forces were freed but the white Portuguese were arrested and remained as prisoners of war by the Republic of India. The Indian army violated Geneva convention and Human rights several times by very convincingly threatening to have all of them shot dead after 1 or 2 attempts to escape from the camps went terribly wrong due to a Portuguese traitor who denounced the idea prior to the attempt of escape. It is also known that they were served and forced to eat rats and dogs meat and lived in horrible conditions without clear water to drink, etc, in clear violation of the Geneva convention.
Portugal behaved shamefully as well because it took about 6 months to send a ship to collect their own men despite several requests by the Republic of India to collect them. The Portuguese were then collected and treated as criminals by Portugal and brought back to Portugal under military police escort. The officers were stripped from their ranks, demoted and suspended from service. Their crime was to surrender and to survive the Indian invasion. The Portuguese men who died fighting were the only ones acknowledged and honoured and details can be found today in a permanent exhibition in Mosteiro da Batalha, north of Lisbon.
Both countries violated and failed to apply Geneva convention. Human rights violations continue in Goa even today. As a result of the conquest of 1961, the Republic of India extended their Law of Evacuees to Goa. The law had been initially written by the Republic of India to confiscate the properties belonging to the British in the Republic of India.
When extended and applied to Goa after 1961, the law did not make any distinction between those Portuguese citizens who were white Portuguese and those who were Goans and lots of our own Goans who had left Goa after 1961, true sons of the motherland, saw their properties and their money automatically confiscated by the Government of the Republic of India under this so called Law of Evacuees. Many tried to claim their properties and money back but the cases are still running in the courts of Goa today, believe it or not! In the last Portuguese President visit (2007), there was talk on the subject but no agreement was reached between the 2 countries and this clear violation of human rights remain in force in our motherland and the properties belonging to the sons of Goa who happened to be on the side of the previous conquerors remain confiscated. The law has been abolished everywhere else in India except in Goa. Terrible! What a shame. How many of us were aware of this?