Thursday, December 9, 2010

Congratulations to Shirley Shackleton

Congratulations to Shirley Shackleton for winning Australia's Walkley Book Award for The Circle of Silence: A personal testimony before, during and after Balibo. Copies are available from ETAN.

The award citation says in part:
"This book is testimony to her work in East Timor, and an insight into a defining time in that country's history. Such struggles have their personal sides, however, and this book is also a remarkable personal narrative, interspersed with poetry, that details the other careers Shackleton juggled while maintaining an abiding focus on justice in East Timor."

From judges' comments:
Shirley Shackleton's book is an exceptional personal narrative in this year's field of rich Australian journalism, history and analysis. It is exceptional because of its raw intellectual honesty forged from murder and massacre in East Timor during a cover-up which prevailed for 25 years. It is exceptional because it confronts then exposes blind-eyed Australian diplomacy. It confronts then exposes self-censorship posing as journalism, because of the Australia/US/Indonesia geopolitical logic which required it.
From ordinary human expectations, the author's personal story -- with sometimes brutal self-assessment -- evolves from self-pity and grief over the 1975 murders at Balibo and Dili to a campaign to raise public consciousness about atrocities which decimated the people of East Timor. The consequence of that raised consciousness? Independence for East Timor in 2002 and a measure of belated redemption for Australia and the international community. The Circle of Silence is Shirley Shackleton's testimony from her life's darkest hour at the death of her husband Greg to vindication and relief at the survival of a people who struggled for their freedom.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

35th Anniversary of U.S.-backed Indonesian Invasion of East Timor

Today, December 7, 2010, marks the 35th anniversary of the U.S.-backed Indonesian invasion of East Timor. On the 30th anniversary of Indonesia's full-scale assault on Timor, ETAN
"called on the world to listen to East Timor’s victims and act on their demands for justice. The group also urged the United States government to formally acknowledge its past support for Indonesia’s brutal military occupation of East Timor, and for the international community to learn from this history and never repeat the same crimes."
December 7 invasion day, via Timor Archives

It is well-documented that the Indonesian military launched its 1975 invasion just hours after then President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave their explicit permission to go ahead. They reassured Suharto that U.S. military support would continue, despite U.S. law and Indonesia's treaty obligations. U.S. weapons, military training and political support enabled Indonesia to seize the territory and maintain its occupation for 24 years. These brutal events claimed the lives of up to 200,000 people.

The report of Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (known by its Portuguese initials, CAVR) thoroughly documents the impact of the Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation.
While the report was long ago officially delivered to the U.S. and other governments, the CAVR's recommendations to the international community remain largely ignored. anniversary. Despite being urged to do so, President Obama did not address these issues during his recent visit to Jakarta.

Kopassus troops
We continue to urge the U.S. government and Congress to seriously respond to the report by holding hearings and formally acknowledge the U.S. role in the suffering of the East Timorese and Indonesian peoples. The U.S. and others who backed Indonesia should apologize and provide reparations. The U.S. should work to establish an international tribunal to try those most responsible the heinous crimes committed in Timor-Leste from 1975-1999 and withhold support for Indonesia's security forces especially their most brutal units - including Kopassus, as recommended by the CAVR to encourage genuine accountability and promote reform. These forces continue to terrorize the people of West Papua.

We highlight some of the CAVR's  most pertinent recommendations after the jump.