Stopping Genocide | Sojourners

Stopping Genocide

The continuing tragedy in East Timor

If no man is an island, as the adage goes, then no nation is either. Even while Indonesia and most of the rest of the world remain in denial, books like Matthew Jardine's East Timor: Genocide in Paradise continue to connect the atrocities committed in that small corner of Southeast Asia to the rest of the world.

The dearth of media coverage in the 21 years since Indonesia invaded and occupied East Timor—during which time more than 200,000 East Timorese died—makes it necessary for activists continually to educate the public about the basics regarding the region. With less than 100 pages and an introduction by well-known intellectual Noam Chomsky, East Timor was written to be widely read and to keep the East Timorese struggle for survival from falling off the screen of peace and justice activists.

Jardine manages, in a few pages, to offer a fairly thorough history of East Timor (though perhaps skipping a little too quickly through the murky period between the end of Portuguese colonization and the Indonesian invasion, when competing political factions in East Timor fought a brief civil war). He stresses that the ongoing genocide of the East Timorese would not be possible without the acquiesence of the United States and, to a lesser extent, Australia, Japan, Canada, and Great Britain.

The United States provided Indonesia with 90 percent of the arms used in the initial invasion in 1975—the same weapons that killed 60,000 East Timorese in the first two months. In 1977, after two years of slaughter threatened to deplete Indonesia's arsenal, Jimmy Carter's "human rights" administration authorized a 2,000 percent increase in commercial U.S. arms sales to the country, allowing the killings to peak in 1978.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1996
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