Letter: East Timor violence

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While Europe watches events unfolding in the Balkans with increasing horror, half a world away, East Timor's life-blood continues to ebb away as it faces up to a fresh wave of violence and killings unleashed by the covert arming and sponsorship of civilian militias by the Indonesian military.

This latest frenzy has been prompted by Indonesia's official indication that it might let East Timor go, whilst unofficially attempting to bludgeon the East Timorese population into voting for continuing integration with Indonesia under an "autonomy" package about to be unveiled.

Exasperated by the passivity of the international community in backing UN efforts to advance the peace process, Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao has called off a ceasefire in response to the massacre by the militias of 17 people in Liquica this week.

The international community must now intervene decisively, and send a peace-keeping force to East Timor.

The pro-integration militias currently intimidating the population must be disarmed immediately, so that meaningful and internationally valid consultation of East Timorese citizens can take place.

When the genocidal horror of the Indonesian occupation was publicised in the wake of the 1991 Dili massacre, journalists pointed out that Cold War preoccupations had encouraged the West to turn a blind eye to the 1975 invasion of East Timor.

Preoccupation with events closer to home should not mean that we allow history to repeat itself.



British Coalition for East Timor

London E1