The Silenced Majority
THE TROOPS MARCHED SLOWLY up the road, their U.S.made M-16s in the ready position. It was November 12, 1991, a day that would forever be seared into my memory, and into history. I was in Dili, the capital of East Timor, a small island nation 300 miles north of Australia. East Timor had been brutally occupied by Indonesian troops for sixteen years, since they invaded in 1975. The Indonesian military had sealed off East Timor from the outside world and turned it into their private killing field. A third of the population—200,000 Timorese—had died. It was one of the worst genocides of the late twentieth century.
I had just attended mass at the main church in Dili with Allan Nairn, journalist and activist, then writing for The New Yorker magazine. After the service, thousands marched toward the Santa