Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

East Timor - a Tale of Oppression in a Small, Faroff Place

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

East Timor - a Tale of Oppression in a Small, Faroff Place

Article excerpt

Even in a world with Rwanda and Bosnia, the cruelty at East Timor has been horrifying: an invasion by a foreign army that has killed as much as a third of the population.

East Timor is half of an island 300 miles north of Australia, so remote that Indonesia has been largely successful in hiding from the world the slaughter and repression its army has carried out since occupying the territory in 1975.

The shroud covering the occupation was pierced in 1991 when Indonesian soldiers fired into a crowd of mourners at a cemetery, killing more than 100. An American was there and wrote about the massacre, and a Briton filmed parts of it.

Now we have powerful new evidence of the horror in East Timor. John Pilger, an Australian reporter, and two others went in incognito and used hidden cameras. British Independent Television has shown their film, "Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy."

The film includes firsthand descriptions, ghastly in their detail, of the mass killing of Timorese civilians. It also includes material on the role of Britain, Australia and the United States in aiding Indonesia and condoning the invasion.

President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Indonesia for several days just before the invasion. Philip Liechty, a CIA official there at the time, says in the film that he is sure President Suharto "was explicitly given the green light to do what he did."

Liechty says that most of the weapons used by Indonesia, as well as ammunition and even food, were American. Aides cabled Secretary Kissinger that such use of materiel supplied for "defense" would violate American law. He excoriated them for putting the point in writing, saying it might leak and embarrass him.

The Pilger film quotes Kissinger as telling a staff meeting: "Can't we construe a communist government in the middle of Indonesia as self-defense?" The Timorese, 90 percent of them Roman Catholics, had shown no sympathy for communism. They just wanted independence for their country. …

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