Friday, January 20, 2006

Reparations are not enough

Green MP Keith Locke has responded to the UN Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report on crimes against humanity in East Timor with a call for the New Zealand government to offer reparations to the Timorese government. I agree that that is the least we can do for our cowardly policy of looking the other way and maintaining low-level military cooperation with the Indonesian regime - but it's not enough. To be true to New Zealand values, we should also be leading the call for justice, and demanding that those responsible be put on trial and punished. And if the Indonesians won't do it - and so far they've shown no intention of holding people to account - we should demand that the UN establish an international tribunal to do it for them, offer to help fund it, and lobby for economic sanctions against Indonesia if they won't cooperate.

This will no doubt annoy the Indonesians - but fear of annoying them is exactly what caused us to look the other way and ignore these atrocities in the first place. That sort of diplomatic cowardice has to stop; we cannot look the other way on torture and genocide. Instead, we must stand up for decency, humanity and international law, and demand that it be punished, regardless of who does it, or to whom. This won't make us any friends - but we will at least be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.


I agree with the sentiments, but fear we would be wholly on our own. Given the potentials for civil war and further ethnic strife, most countries (Australia) are just trying to help Indonesia hold together.

And to think that during this period Tommy Suharto was given permission by the government to buy a large chunk of South Island land...

Posted by Anonymous : 1/20/2006 04:59:00 PM

Good call, I/S.

Never fear, Adrien. The U.S. was nearly wholly on its own, and ignored the potentials for civil war and further ethnic strife, but, thanks to the invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein is now on trial for crimes against humanity. Let justice be done.

Posted by Richard : 1/20/2006 05:18:00 PM

How about an investigation into the deaths of the protesters mowed down in central Dili by Australian and Australian-trained forces in December 1999 and January 2000, not to mention an investigation into the virtual theft of much of East Timor's oil fields since US-sponsored 'intervention' of 1999?

I don't think you'll hear Keith Locke talking about that. He's fine with imperialism, as long as it wears a multilateral, 'humanitarian' face.

For the real history of East Timor over the past few years, check out the World Socialist Website's searchable archives at

Posted by maps : 1/23/2006 02:20:00 AM

Maps, East Timor would never have been able to defend those oil fields. Without them, the economic incentive for Indonesia to invade them again is gone.

Posted by Lucia Maria : 1/24/2006 12:22:00 PM