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Subject: Washington Post, Letter to the Editor
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 15:01:21 -0400
From: "Arnold S. Kohen" <> (by way of Kristin Sundell )

The Washington Post, Letters to the Editor, July 28, 1998

U.S. Airstrikes on East Timor

[Note: the headline is somewhat misleading, but it was the one provided by the Post. However, the subject of the letter is significant, because in certain government circles the "communist" issue is being raised both as a means of justifying past policies of complicity with the Indonesian regime, and as a scare tactic to justify inaction now.]

To the Editor:

The July 10 news story on East Timor's revived independence drive reported that the "United States supported Indonesia in its invasion of East Timor and helped supply the aircraft and bombs that strafed the region's mountains to rid them of suspected communist insurgents."

In fact, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, the territory's politically moderate Nobel Peace Prize winner, has stated that "there was no danger whatsoever of a takeover by communists." Talk of such a risk ("another Cuba in the making," as the article put it), was "clearly a pretext," Bishop Belo has emphasized, to justify Indonesia's 1975 invasion of the former Portuguese colony.

It is crucial to stress that the bombing and strafing of East Timor's mountains and countryside in the late 1970s created famine and destruction that claimed the lives of most of the estimated 200,000 people, mainly civilians, who perished as a result of the military onslaught. And despite the recent changes in Indonesia, the repression in East Timor has not ended, with at least three killings by the Armed Forces in recent weeks.

The Rt. Rev. Paul Moore Jr. New York

Arnold S. Kohen Washington

Bishop Moore is the retired Episcopal bishop of New York.

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