Subject: Letter - On Timor Leste's present situation
February 23, 2008
On Timor Leste's present situation
Twenty-five years of Indonesian military occupation in East Timor left a legacy of violence that may be deeply entrenched in the society of that small country and this may take decades to disappear.
It is estimated that 4,000 were murdered by the Indonesian troops and their proxy militias in 1999 alone, before the referendum that led to the independence of East Timor, and scores more were killed in the few weeks that ensued it.
The current violence in East Timor is serious, although it can only be deemed as moderate in comparison to the situation that prevailed between 1975 and 1999.
A statement by Hasan Wirayuda (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 11) that the incident showed that "East Timor is highly volatile as there is no security guarantee for heads of state and government" somewhat sounds like provocation. Instead of showing its arrogant face, the Indonesian government should consider setting up a tribunal to try and severely condemn those responsible for the genocide of the East Timorese people (200,000 civilians killed, many of them tortured to death).
It seems unlikely that the first man responsible for those crimes, the late Soeharto, will ever be tried, but he was assisted by military officers who are still alive and may even still hold influential positions in Indonesia.
The trial of these people surely would help quench the frustrations accumulated by decades of military violence, not only in East Timor, but also within Indonesia.
The 1965-1966 killings have still not been addressed. Massive crimes in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere across the archipelago still bear deep traumas within the people there.
The Tanjung Priok and Lampung massacres have yet to be properly investigated, and neither has been the violence against ethnic Chinese in Jakarta in 1998.
One should not rule out the eventuality that some revengeful Indonesian military officers may find interest in harming the government of East Timor.
It would be interesting to know whether the East Timorese rebels who attempted to kill Gusmao and Ramos Horta received any help from outside East Timor, and if so, whether this was connected or not to some covert operation from Indonesia (speculation, but a reasonable one in light of recent history).
Last, the current unstable situation in East Timor may help divert attention from the many serious problems Indonesia has itself to face, one year before the presidential election.
PHILIPPE BORSA Tawangsari, Central Java
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