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Ocussi Ambeno District (East Timor)

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by antónio martins
Keywords: ocussi ambeno | coat of arms | oé-cussi | micronation | quatair / ocussi ambeno | madagascar | imaginary | hoax |
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The status of Ocussi Ambeno

Oecussi Ambeno never had separate administration from East Timor.
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 06 Aug 2005

Oecusi-Ambeno is part of East Timor and will be a part of independent Timor Lorosae. There’s no question about that.
Jorge Candeias, 25 Feb 2000

Ocussi Ambeno seems to be a de-facto Indonesian territory, unrecognized internationally but so far uncontested legally by Portugal. It was a Portugese enclave in the old NEI with a border undefined until 1914, and the source of several military clashes between the two colonial powers. Portugal neglected to re-occupy the territory after WW2 — perhaps unwilling to take the risk of being caught in the conflicts between Holland and the Indonesian nationalists — and the territory drifted into diplomatic oblivion.
Stephen Collier, 07 Oct 1999

This is false. Soon after WWII Indonesia got independent and East Timor was subject to an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal, by which Indonesia recognized the sovereignty of Portugal over the territory and guaranteed that it didn’t have any territorial ambitions over any part of the territory. The territory was defined as the portuguese possessions of before the war: the eastern part of the island of Timor, the island of Atauro to the north, the small island of Jaco off the eastern tip of Timor and the enclave of Ocussi Ambeno in the eastern half of Timor. Even after the invasion, Indonesia maintained these territories together and separated from the rest of the country as the province of Timor Timur. The legal status of the territory is, therefore, perfectly clear: it’s a part of East Timor, and has been so since before WWII.
Jorge Candeias, 08 Oct 1999

The enclave is part of East Timor and will join the newly independent country. The territorial make up of East Timor was never a debate issue, rather only it’s status (either indonesian province or occupied portuguese territory under a decolonization and independence process). Indonesian occupation officials (unlike others in similar ciconstances) did not change the borderlines fixed in 1912 between Portugal and the Netherlands, and UN-sponsored independence referendum was held in the territory. I find very hard to believe that «Portugal neglected to re-occupy the territory after WW2». Granted that the 1926-1974 portuguese dictatorship contrasted it’s propaganda imperial tone at home with a rather meek foreign policy regarding it’s colonies (at least until 1961), allowing almost without complaint the occupation of São Jorge da Mina (Benin) and Portuguese India — by these things were widely publicized and exposed after the 1974 revolution. However nothing of the sort was disclosed about Oecussi Ambeno…
Antonio Martins, 08 Oct 1999

I also find very hard to believe that «Portugal neglected to re-occupy the territory after WW2». First of all because the Grote Oost (Greater East, the islands east of Java and Madura, so including [West] Timor) was the first territory of the Netherlands Indies where the Dutch regained control (well, in fact the Australians had done that for them) after the war was finished. Second, because I don’t think the Dutch would have allowed the “republicans” (supporters of a unitary Republik Indonesia) to have control over the exclave, nor they would have risked a conflict with the Portugese by occupying it theirselves. And last, because West Timor was one of the three ereas most anti-republican and loyal to the Dutch (the other being Minahassa, in the upper north of Celebes/Sulawesi, and the South Moluccas). As far as I know, most of the fighting took place on Java, Sumatra and the south of Celebes.
Mark Sensen, 11 Oct 1999

Traditional weavings on the parliament wall

On the right and the left wall of the East Timor national parliament are hanging traditional weavings, each with the name of one of the districts. Each district has such a weaving on the left and the right, but there are not exactly the same, just similar.
J. Patrick Fischer, 08 Aug 2002

Left side

Weaving, left
image by J. Patrick Fischer, 08 Aug 2002

Right side

Weaving, right
image by J. Patrick Fischer, 08 Aug 2002

Portuguese era municipal flag

Some, not all, portuguese overseas municipalities recieved arms and flag in the period 1940-1974, after all metropolitan municipalities got one. In Portuguese Timor overseas province only Díli had a flag and a coat of arms, all other 12 municipalities (currently named districts) being confirmedly flagless.
António Martins, 15 Jan 2003 and 06 Aug 2005

Portuguese era millitary flag

Originally at on line, this seems to be a Portuguese colonial or Army flag. Several months ago I contacted the association that runs the site (Associação dos Militares do Oé-Cussi, Former Portuguese Military Serving in Oecussi Association), to get information about this flag, but I got no answer. It seems that this photo was taken in 1999. It is written that the former chieftain of Oecussi, D. José Hermenegildo da Costa, kept the flag with the will to hoist it the day the Indonesians would leave Timor-Leste. However, D. José was deported to Kupang, Indonesia and passed away on November 4, 1999.
Francisco Santos, 26 May 2003

The micronation of Quatair / Ocussi Ambeno

imaginary flag of Oecussi
image by Antonio Martins, 11 Oct 1999

There is someone in New Zealand who issues stamps for Ocussi Ambeno — but this is not the Timorese one, but is rather a micronation, in much the same way as one other micronation is called Reunion.
James Dignan, 09 Dec 1997

On [mchXX], under the title "Soukrome staty" there are 11 images of imaginary states, incuding Ocussi Ambeno: red over green with at the fly [!] a white vertical stripe (so, like the flag of Madagascar mirrored). No source is given.
Mark Sensen, 11 Oct 1999

Soukrome staty means "private countries" or "privately owned countries"…
Joàn-Francés Blanc, 12 Oct 1999

The “self proclaimed” sultanate was proclaimed by Bruce Henderson after 1968. The Sultan in 1968 was Wallis Abdullah I, and later Michael Abdullah. The postal adresses are:

Sultanate of Quatair / Ocussi Ambeno,
PO box 876, Auckland, New Zeland; or
Markpress box 21240, Auckland, New Zeland; or
Box 1619, Brisbane 4001, Australia
I don’t know the flag but the coat of arms is with two oval wreaths, a crown above and 18 circles within the oval (in line 3, over 4, over 5 over 6, each time greater, over the word QUATAIR, over 8 five pointed stars over a great five pointed star. In the bottom a ribbon with the inscription "onward".
Jaume Ollé, 09 Dec 1997

It sounds dreadfully overdesigned. And inscription would likely be in Portugese, Bhasa or Arabic. There’s no English connection beyond this Auckland clique that I’ve ever heard of, so that’s probably how it got to say "onward".
Stephen Collier, 07 Oct 1999 is the page of Okusi Ambeno Sultanate <> is the page of postal emisions I received a beatiful file about next post emission. In the upper part is the emblem of the Ministry of post, with the arms of… Brunei!!
Jaume Ollé, 03 Apr 2000

That’s not surprising, since everything in that “sultanate” is a hoax. It’s just an internet-based micronation with a spurious claim to territory in real world.
Jorge Candeias, 03 Apr 2000

Yep, and the “national” coat of arms of this so called sultanate is the arms of Indonesia with the central shiled blurred off. Hardely imaginative, but… No flags, anyway. I still dont understand if thisis just a joke of some kind (the website has a lot of “give aways”, like that bit about hallucinogenic mushrooms being a major export, or that garudas really exist), or if they are still conning keen and not-so-clever philatellists.
António Martins, 04 Apr 2000

The so-called “sultanate” is a fiction, one of the many micronations that have been created in the last decades. Unlike some of these micronations (who have real territory where real people live and claim independence), this had only “territory” on the Internet and on stamps catalogues. Also, the people there are overwhelmingly christian (which is also a political statement of resistence against the indonesian opressor, predominantly muslim), so it couldn’t be a sultanate. This helps to show the deep ignorance of the guy who invented the sultanate story about the sociological reality of the enclave, which is also quite common in micronations that claim chunks of “real-world” territory.
Jorge Candeias, 08 Oct 1999

This Bruce Henderson must be an alias of, a friend of, or even the real identity of, someone I once had the misfortune to share lodgings with in Perth. Although a liar and pain-in-the-arse, this man produced enough documentary evidence to eventually convince me of the following:

Sometime in the mid 1970s, he printed letterheads for the non-existent Consul General of Ocussi Ambeno, from Auckland (address i forget, but i saw these). He explained that he had discovered that Ocussi Ambeno “didn’t actually exist”, but was listed in atlases nevertheless. Around the same time, he and others printed extremely basic postage stamps to back up the nation’s reputation. These were done with rubber stamps individually, and featured cats, fish, teddy bears and steam trains. I was told that these were never intended to be taken seriously, but they were submitted without laughter to an international philatelic journal with covering letterhead from the “consulate” and appeared in the next issue as a curiousity — in the so-called cinderella section. I saw this issue.

This is as much as I can vouch for, and it’s a shame I can’t verify what happened next…though i did see many sample sets of the “real” stamps. Here’s the story:

Two months later, a major European-based engraver/publisher writes to the consulate in Auckland and expresses cordial greetings, sympathy for the position of struggling small nations etc. Oblique correspondence gives way to enquiries about the diplomatic hierachy; is the sultanate’s man in Auckland the senior man overseas? does the consulate in Auckland have any particular needs that could be addressed? It’s noted that he is a keen philatelist. It’s pointed out that the publishing company prints stamps, very good ones, and specializes in international “covers”, large packages and long term client relationships. Company would be prepared to pay “fee” for exclusive contract, and right to market comemmorative sets to investors…

And the story goes that $US 30 000 changed hands. Everything was done properly and quickly; the stamps arriving in time for the Queen’s silver jubilee — that was the theme they celebrated. The printer placed tropical fish and animals on them, for reasons of continuity no doubt.

The money went on parties, and when they’d sobered up and realised that the printer wouldn’t prosecute them but might well take action privately, the rest of it went on changing identities and moving to Australia.

Stephen Collier, 07 Oct 1999

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