Blood on our hands

The Australian obtains a startling, though sadly unsurprising, UN report:

“The Indonesian military used starvation as a weapon to exterminate the East Timorese, according to a UN report documenting the deaths of as many as 180,000 civilians at the hands of the occupying forces.

“The 2500-page report, obtained by The Australian, has been suppressed for months by the East Timorese Government and will infuriate Indonesia, which has punished only a handful of soldiers for the murders, assaults and rapes that occurred during its 24 years of occupation.

“Napalm and chemical weapons, which poisoned the food and water supply, were used by Indonesian soldiers against the East Timorese in the brutal invasion and annexation of the half-island to Australia’s north, according to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report.”

Such a brutal occupation would not have succeeded without Western support:

“The report, due to be handed by East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao to UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan tomorrow, also criticises 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 recommends reparations from Indonesia and the members of the UN Security Council, including Britain and the US, who gave military backing to Indonesia between 1974 and 1999, as well as those nations that provided military assistance to Jakarta during the occupation, including Australia.”

Australia’s enthusiastic support for Indonesia crossed both major political parties. Perhaps one of the greatest myths of recent times has been the widespread belief that the Howard government “liberated” Timor in 1999. The facts, sadly, tell a very different story.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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