Magazine article New Internationalist

Bitter Dawn: East Timor - a People's Story by Irena Cristalis

Magazine article New Internationalist

Bitter Dawn: East Timor - a People's Story by Irena Cristalis

Article excerpt

The truly extraordinary story of how one half of a tiny island - invaded by Indonesia in 1975 - resisted all odds to reach independence earlier this year will surely never be better told than by Irena Cristalis.

A Dutch photographer and journalist with a translucent writing style, Cristalis came late to East Timor. But she stayed through the fearful months when almost every other foreigner fled as Indonesian-sponsored militias ran amok, trying to stave off independence. She relates the brutal history of the Indonesian occupation through the eyes of the East Timorese people themselves. Portrayed with unsentimental empathy, they emerge as distinct personalities. Take Mana Lou - `East Timor's Joan of Arc'. A restless nun, Mana Lou's ambition is sometimes compared by her colleagues with that of Mother Teresa. …

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