WASHINGTON, D.C.–A report to be presented to the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan today charges that Indonesia, through its military, sought to exterminate the people of East Timor through a genocidal campaign of deliberate starvation. The extermination in East Timor was carried out from 1975 through 1999, years in which Indonesia occupied its island neighbor. The U.S. provided military assistance to Indonesia during that period.
The Australian newspaper got a copy of the 2,500-page report, which it says had been suppressed by the East Timorese government for several months. The report, by the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation, is based on interviews with nearly 8,000 witnesses. The commission’s steering committee includes delegates from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Some 180,000 East Timor civilians–about a third of the nation’s population before the invasion–were killed by the occupying forces, reports the Australian. Ninety percent of these deaths were due to hunger and illness. The extermination was carried out in part by the use of napalm and chemical weapons, the investigation commission, financed by international donors, said. Some victims were burned or buried while still alive. Others were sexually mutilated.
The report demands reparations from Indonesia, but also from members of the U.N. Security Council who provided military support to Indonesia during the occupation. In addition to the U.S., that list includes Britain. So far the only people punished for the East Timor atrocities are a handful of Indonesian soldiers.
The Indonesian security forces “consciously decided to use starvation of East Timorese civilians as a weapon of war,” the Australian quotes the report as saying. “The intentional imposition of conditions of life which could not sustain tens of thousands of East Timorese civilians amounted to extermination as a crime against humanity committed against the East Timorese population.”
And who’s left to blame? “The violations were committed in execution of a systematic plan approved, conducted, and controlled by Indonesian military commanders at the highest level,” the report says. Some of those commanders, the report suggests, are still in power.