East Timor

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East Timor (Timor-Leste) is a country north of Australia, located on the east end of an island that it shares with Indonesia. It is the first new country of the 21st century, having obtained its independence from Indonesia in 2002. [1]


Over 100,000 inhabitants died as a result a 25-year occupation by Indonesia which started in 1975. The BBC writes that "World powers were accused of contributing to the subsequent calamity by turning a blind eye or by actively supporting the occupation by supplying weapons." [1]

U.S. involvement in East Timor

The National Security Archive website reports about U.S. involvment in East Timor during the 1970s and 80s:

As Document 11 reveals, on the eve of President Ford and Secretary Kissinger's December 5, 1975 arrival in Jakarta, upon hearing that an Indonesian invasion of East Timor was imminent, the U.S. State Department explicitly suggested that U.S. Ambassador David Newsom request that Indonesia "take no military action until well after the President's departure from Jakarta."
Ford Administration officials knew from the start that Indonesia launched its invasion of East Timor almost entirely with U.S. equipment, and that the use of this equipment was illegal. A National Security Council report compiled less than a week after the invasion, Document 15 offers a weapon-by-weapon description of the U.S. arms used by invading Indonesian troops.
In a May 10, 1978 meeting with President Suharto in Jakarta (Document 29), then Vice-President Walter Mondale discussed with the Indonesian President the Administration's desire for expanded arms sales to Jakarta and recommended "how to handle public relations aspects of the [Timor] problem" in ways that would "have a beneficial impact on U.S. public opinion." Through the 1980s, U.S. officials continued to receive credible reports of Indonesian massacres of Timorese civilians. As these cables (Document 33 and Document 34) concerning Indonesian military massacres of hundreds of civilians in September 1983 demonstrate, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta generally dismissed such reports, even when they came from Indonesian sources.[2]


The BBC says of the country's media:

East Timor's national public radio and TV services launched in May 2002, replacing the interim broadcasting services operated by the UN. Public radio is said to reach some 90% of the population; public TV has a smaller coverage. Community radio stations play a key role in the process of national reconstruction. Many of them receive funding, training and equipment from international agencies and organisations.[1]



Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Country profile: East Timor, BBC, accessed February 2008.
  2. A Quarter Century of U.S. Support for Occupation, National Security Archive, accessed February 2008.

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