LETTER: Grant asylum to East Timorese

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The Independent Online
From Mr H. R. Bruhns

Sir: It is to be hoped that Britain does grant asylum to the five East Timorese men who have sought refuge in the British Embassy in Jakarta ("Timorese plead for UK asylum", 26 September). The atrocities carried out by Indonesia in the two decades since it occupied East Timor remain largely unpublicised. The scale of death in that brutalised nation is now well documented by Amnesty International and numerous other reputable organisations, and torture continues to be levelled against East Timorese thought to resist the Indonesian occupation.

Western nations, with few exceptions, have maintained an inexcusable silence on the subject of East Timor; and the ringing defences of human rights and international law by the British Government during the Falklands invasion and the Gulf war remain so much self-interested cant while East Timor continues to be ignored. Indeed, Britain provided some of the arms used in East Timor. Such are our thanks to a nation whose aid to the Allies in the Second World War cost it some 40,000 lives. We have an opportunity here to redeem a little of our blemished human rights record by granting asylum to these East Timorese.


H. R. Bruhns

Milton Keynes

27 September