Subject: WP: At Peace but Devastated in East Timor

The Washington Post December 19, 2001


At Peace but Devastated in East Timor

The Dec. 10 front-page article "Afghan Rebuilding Will Be Costly" described East Timor as "still wracked with violence." This is untrue. Since the Indonesian military and their militia proxies made their brutal and destructive exit in the fall of 1999, East Timor has seen a peace unknown since Indonesia first invaded in 1975.

East Timor has come out of its emergency phase as a nation "still wracked with" overwhelming devastation. Education, health care, transport, water, electricity and other basic services remain far from adequate. Centuries of Portuguese colonial neglect and 24 years of Indonesian repression have left a dearth of capacity in many sectors.

The international investment rightly made by the United States and other countries in East Timor should not be jeopardized, especially as the United Nations reduces its presence and U.N. contributions become increasingly voluntary in the run up to East Timor's May independence date. Moreover, as Dana Milbank notes in "1975 East Timor Invasion Got U.S. Go-Ahead" [news story, Dec. 7], the U.S. government is far from blameless in the genocide of one-third of the pre-invasion Timorese population.

Washington Coordinator 
East Timor Action Network Washington

see also ETAN Kissinger Page

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