|Subject: Suffering ‘trivialised’
The Catholic Leader
Sr Susan Connolly rsj
DECADES of suffering by the East Timorese people had been "trivialised", Mary MacKillop East Timor assistant director Josephite Sister Susan Connelly said last week as Dili returned to an "uneasy calm".
Australia has sent about 2000 combat troops and other security personnel to East Timor to try to end weeks of violence.
The firing of 600 disgruntled soldiers by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri from East Timor's 1400-member army triggered the unrest in March.
Sr Connelly said the violence was an example of peace being unable to exist in a country if the problems of the past were not addressed.
She said the violence had been a "big setback" for the East Timorese people, but it had been brewing for some time.
In a recent newsletter, Mary MacKillop East Timor said during the 24 years of Indonesian occupation more than 180,000 East Timorese were killed as a result of the oppression.
"Although 400 Indonesian persons have been indicted for crimes against humanity committed during that time, not one has been brought to trial," the newsletter said.
"Justice has not yet been done, and the suffering of the East Timorese has therefore been belittled."
Meanwhile, Australian Army Major Michael Stone told The Catholic Leader on June 6 that the streets of Dili seemed to be "calmer" compared to recent weeks.
Major Stone, who graduated from Marist College, Ashgrove, in Brisbane, in 1995, said the death and horrific injuries suffered by the people of East Timor were "tragic".
He said the people of East Timor were "courageous" in the way they were dealing with the violence.
Major Stone said he had visited a home where six innocent people were killed and then burnt in their home.
He said the suffering, despair and helplessness of the East Timorese people was clearly evident.
Major Stone said some people had resorted to eating grass, but humanitarian aid agencies were organising food for the homeless.
Caritas Australia, the overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church, is in Dili, responding to the humanitarian crisis following the civil unrest.
Caritas Australia chief executive officer Jack de Groot said urgent action was needed as the humanitarian needs of the displaced were increasing.
Donations can be made by phoning 1800 024 413, posting cheques/money orders to GPO Box 9830 in your capital city, or online at www.caritas.org.au