By Mike Head:
13 June 2006
Despite its limited framework (see: “Incriminating documents looted in East Timor”), the report of the East Timor Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) made a series of damning findings against Indonesia, the US and Australia.
The report indicted the Indonesian government and security forces for the deaths of as many as 183,000 civilians—more than 90 percent of whom died from hunger and illness—between 1975 and 1999. It documented 18,600 unlawful killings or disappearances and 8,500 cases of torture, with public beheadings, mutilation of genitalia, burying and burning alive of victims, use of cigarettes to burn victims, and ears and genitals being lopped off to display to families.
The deaths amounted to almost a third of East Timor’s pre-invasion population.
As well as napalm and other US-supplied weapons, the Indonesian security forces “consciously decided to use starvation of East Timorese civilians as a weapon of war”, the report says.
“The intentional imposition of conditions of life which could not sustain tens of thousands of East Timorese civilians amounted to extermination as a crime against humanity committed against the East Timorese population.”
Thousands of East Timorese women were sexually assaulted.
“Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters,” the CAVR found.
A culture of impunity prevailed in the occupied territory.
“The violations were committed in execution of a systematic plan approved, conducted and controlled by Indonesian military commanders at the highest level.”
It was not credible to maintain that rogue elements in the military were acting on their own initiative without the knowledge of superiors in Jakarta.
“In 1999 Indonesian security forces and their auxiliaries conducted a coordinated and sustained campaign of violence designed to intimidate the pro-independence movement….
Military bases were openly used as militia headquarters, and military equipment, including forearms were distributed to militia groups.”
The report concluded that, “Justice and accountability must involve those who planned, ordered, committed and are responsible for the most serious human rights violations [who] in many cases have seen their military and civilian careers flourish as a result of their activities.”
US and Australian complicity
The United States was indicted for backing the 1975 invasion to bolster the Suharto regime in the wake of the US defeat in Vietnam.
“As a Permanent Member of the Security Council and superpower, the US had the power and influence to prevent Indonesia’s military intervention but declined to do so.
It consented to the invasion and allowed Indonesia to use its military equipment in the knowledge that this violated US law and would be used to suppress the right of self-determination.”
The CAVR condemned Australia for its long-term de jure recognition of the Indonesian occupation and its failure to try to prevent the use of force in East Timor.
It concluded that Australia was influenced by a desire to get the most it could out of maritime boundary negotiations affecting oil and gas reserves.
East Timor now: here.
1975 journalists’ massacre: here.
A very strange “coup attempt” in East Timor, February 2008: here.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, said on Thursday that the decision to launch a fresh investigation into the deaths of the so-called “Balibo Five” would harm relations between the three countries involved: here.
Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the referendum that saw nearly 80 percent of the East Timorese people vote to secede from Indonesia and become a separate nation-state. A decade later, independence for the tiny island state has proven to be a fraud: here.
September marked the tenth anniversary of the Australian-led military intervention into East Timor. It is also a decade since a layer of pseudo “left” groups organised “troops in” demonstrations—performing a vital service for the Howard government and the Australian ruling elite: here.
“Alarm bells” ring for Australian government over deepening China-East Timor ties: here.
- UN ends East Timor peace mission (bbc.co.uk)
- Australia to withdraw from East Timor (bigpondnews.com)
- U.N. mission leaves East Timor 13 years after vote (thehindu.com)
- UN wraps up East Timor mission (abc.net.au)
- Troops return to Chch from East Timor (stuff.co.nz)
- PEACEKEEPING: East Timor Gets Gassed (strategypage.com)