East Timor 1975
And 200,000 more
excerpted from the book
by William Blum
In 1975 Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of
East Timor, which lies at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago
and which had proclaimed its independence after Portugal relinquished
control. It was the beginning of a massacre that continues into
the 1990s. By 1989, Amnesty International estimated that Indonesian
troops, with the aim of forcibly annexing East Timor, had killed
200,000 people out of a population of between 600,000 and 700,000.
The level of atrocity has often been on a par with that carried
out against the PKI in Indonesia itself.
The invasion of 7 December 1975-of which, said the New York
Times: "By any definition, Indonesia is guilty of naked aggression"-was
launched the day after US President Gerald Ford and Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger left Indonesia following a meeting with
Columnist Jack Anderson later reported:
'By December 3, 1975, an intelligence dispatch to Washington
reported that "Ranking Indonesian civilian government leaders
have decided that the only solution in the Portuguese Timor situation
is for Indonesia to launch an open offensive against Fretilin,
the leading East Timorese resistance movement."
But it was essential to neutralize the United States. For
the Indonesian army relied heavily on U.S. arms which, under our
laws, could not be used for aggression.
As it happened, President Gerald Ford was on his way to Indonesia
for a state visit. An intelligence report forewarned that Suharto
would bring up the Timor issue and would "try and elicit
a sympathetic attitude."
That Suharto succeeded is confirmed by Ford himself. The United
States had suffered a devastating setback in Vietnam, leaving
Indonesia as the most important American ally in the area. The
U.S. national interest, Ford concluded, "had to be on the
side of Indonesia."
Ford gave his tacit approval on December 6,1975... Five days
after the invasion, the United Nations voted to condemn the attack
as an arrant act of international aggression. The United States
abstained. Thereafter, the U.S. delegate maneuvered behind the
scenes to resist U.N. moves aimed at forcing Indonesia to give
up its conquest.'
Throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s, US State Department
officials, in statements to the press and in testimony before
Congress, consistently supported Indonesia's claim to East Timor
(unlike the United Nations and the European Community), and downplayed
the slaughter to a remarkable extent. Meanwhile, the omnipresent
American military advisers, the training, the weapons, the helicopter
gunships, and all the other instruments indispensable to efficient,
modern, counter-insurgency warfare, were kept flowing into the
hands of the Indonesian military. This may not be all, for Fretilin
reported on a number of occasions that American advisers were
directing and even participating in the combat.