Australia complicit in torture, rape, slavery and genocide of 200,000 East Timorese

I saw a good documentary on the weekend on ABC called “Debt of Honour” which featured a lot of WWII vets who had served in East Timor in World War II, and who through the 70’s-90’s had been digusted that Australia covered up what was going on and allowed it to happen. Apparently The East Timorese gave a lot of support to Australian Troops in WWII that the soldiers never forgot, with many of the surviving vets still visiting frequently.

The show then covered the troop deployment there from 2000 or so to now, and how the forces feel that they are belatedly repaying a debt of honour.

Anyway, the next day the UN report on the Indonesian invasian and subsequent genocide is released.

Here’s a bit from an article in The Age:

The United Nations has released a report, which documents torture, rape, slavery and starvation leading to the unnatural demise of as many as 180,000 civilians (from a pre-invasion population of 628,000), should shame those ministers, journalists, diplomats and academics who played down or ignored consistent human rights abuses in the former Portuguese colony incredibly described as “aberrant acts” by former foreign minister Gareth Evans.

This group, known as the Jakarta lobby, not only sought to protect the reputation of the Soeharto dictatorship at every opportunity. They went out of their way to oppose East Timor’s claim for independence (a “lost cause” former diplomat Richard Woolcott) and accused critics of the regime in Jakarta of not only exaggerating the scale of the repression, but of being “racist” and “anti-Indonesian” (Woolcott).

Their influence on official policy has been considerable. Rather than indict those responsible for crimes that would have made Slobodan Milosovic and Saddam Hussein blush, governments from Whitlam to Howard ignored regular reports of atrocities that the Catholic Church believes constituted the greatest slaughter relative to a population since the Holocaust. Why?

When “stability”, oil and gas reserves and “good relations” with Jakarta were (mistakenly) thought to be at stake, the state terrorism of the Indonesian military was uncomfortable for Canberra but acceptable, providing most of it could be concealed from the Australian public. When that proved impossible, as in the case of the 1991 Dili massacre, damage control designed to protect the bilateral relationship rather than humanitarian concern was the order of the day. The Howard Government’s approach to Islamist terror could scarcely be a greater contrast in behaviour.

The double standard continues today. While NATO spends millions trying to track down Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, Soeharto remains comfortably retired in the suburbs of Jakarta, with neither Canberra nor Washington showing any interest in bringing him to account for his considerably more serious crimes” (continues)

From Bloody history of East Timor and our part in it – Opinion –


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