Letter: Massacre in Timor

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I can see that an international force is urgently needed in East Timor, but in my view this should exclude Australian forces. I have qualms about Australian involvement because there is considerable evidence of collusion between Indonesia and Australia, not only in the original invasion by Indonesia but also in the subsequent suppression of the aspirations of the East Timorese people in the 24 years that followed.

The reason for this collusion was the division between the two countries of the former Portugese colony's prospective oil wealth. Australian forces will have the same level of credibility in East Timor as Russian forces have in Kosovo among ethnic Albanians.

I perceive a hidden agenda: Indonesia withdraws, "unable to control the situation"; the Australians intervene, postponing independence for several years, but long enough to develop arrangements to suit themselves.

Instead, I suggest that an international force should be led by the Portugese, who have primary responsibility if the Indonesians leave. The UN and Western leaders should not be deflected from the moral imperative in East Timor, and should not repeat past mistakes.

GEOFFREY GLARKE

Meopham, Kent

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