Going to Where the Silence Is
For every one torturer, there are a thousand people ready to risk their lives in order to save another. For every soldier who shoots in a neighborhood, there are a thousand compañeros who help and protect each other.
I F I R S T TRAVELED T O East Timor with journalist and activist Allan Nairn in 1990. International pressure in the late 1980s had forced Indonesia to open East Timor just a crack, so we were able to visit. The island nation, brutally occupied by the Indonesian military since the 1975 invasion, had been virtually sealed off from the outside world for fifteen years.
What we saw on that first trip was an absolute hell on earth— a totalitarian military dictatorship. The Indonesian military tried to follow us everywhere we went. Troops and military intelligence known as Intel monitored every aspect of Timorese life. Each village had a place where a list of names of villagers was kept. In some villages, people had to sign in and out when they came and