"Australia would not send forces here; that's impossible."
August 28, 2010 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Death of a Nation – East Timor.

This 1993 John Pilger documentary runs 1 hour, 14 minutes, and was shot within East Timor during the Indonesian occupation without permission, and features interviews with international diplomats and Timorese exiles, including unprecedented shots of Timorese guerillas living in the mountains of East Timor at the time.

This is the full video of the report Greg Shackleton made (seen in part in the film) the day before Indonesian forces captured and killed him and the four journalists with him.


Sorry for all the Wikipedia links. I mostly want to post the film, but it needs context.
posted by cthuljew (12 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I had never heard about the events in East Timor until last night. I am ashamed of myself for never having heard about it, and ashamed of both Western governments for supporting it whole-heartedly and Western media for completely ignoring it. Although the situation in Timor Leste is more or less normalized now, it is still completely unbelievable to me that I could have watched The Killing Fields in school but never heard mention of Indonesia's actions in East Timor. I'm just glad I have friends more well-informed than I am.
posted by cthuljew at 11:14 PM on August 28, 2010

See Also
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 12:03 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

A similar situation still goes on in Western Sahara.
posted by Skeptic at 1:35 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've heard in the news about Indonesia and East-Timor for decades.
That must be because of the fact that Indonesia used to be a colony of the Netherlands. And hence there's more interest.
It's so sad that some populations on earth seem to be without friends because of Realpolitik dynamics.
It's even more troubling that we are complicit in a way since our governments make these energy deals in our interest.
So we are in the luxurious position of enjoying the fruits of this Realpolitik (by having affordable gas f.i. to travel) and distancing ourselves from the actions at the same time.
posted by joost de vries at 3:40 AM on August 29, 2010

Timor gets regular attention in the Australian media. I don't know if it is helping them get a fair deal on the sunrise gas project, though.
posted by bystander at 4:43 AM on August 29, 2010

When it comes to East Timor, I am compelled to take a page from Howard Zinn's summary of the US attack on Vietnam. On the one side was a vicious army making the maximum effort to commit genocide, backed in full by the largest and most advanced military machine in human history, all of the most powerful and wealthy governments in the world, the World Bank, the Western mass media, and all of the diverse forms of domination available from organized modern technology.

On the other side were 500,000 human beings; the Timorese and the handful of international supporters. And, the human beings won.
posted by williampratt at 5:57 AM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just randomly found a link to another Pilger documentary, The War on Democracy about the relationship between Washington and Latin America.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 8:27 AM on August 29, 2010

I read a lot of Noam Chomsky when I was in high school debate (early 1980's), and remember being overwhelmed by his breadth of outrage and depth of knowledge. The situation he painted in East Timor was one of the things that stood out for me. Time after time, he was way ahead of popular opinion on bad things going on in the world. At the time, I wondered why nobody seemed to listen to him.

Later, I heard talks by him on my local independent radio stations, and came to the conclusion that one reason people don't listen to him is that the strident tones of his accusations make it hard to not feel personally accused (and I guess that's what he's after). Some speakers leave you energized to go do something. Chomsky always leaves me feeling less smart than him and part of the problem. Maybe it's a personal problem.

This wasn't supposed to be about Chomsky -- I'm just pointing out that someone's been talking about this for decades, and nobody seems to have listened. There's a lot of anti-Chomsky rhetoric, but most of it questions his intentions (e.g., being anti-American). My unbacked theory is that he has high intentions, but needed a different interface for his message.
posted by dylanjames at 8:56 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

oops - reading that one link in my comment above, the author seems to agree with my thesis, not that Chomsky is anti-American
posted by dylanjames at 9:03 AM on August 29, 2010

By coincidence we re-watched the Chomsky documentary movie Manufacturing Consent last week, which discusses the East Timor tragedy.

The impression I received is that Chomsky is actually pretty funny. Paraphrase: "I'm glad I am an American, some other countries torture dissenters, but here we're just ignored." (adds Woody Allenesque shrug).

The real laughs come in the DVD special features, with a longer take of his famous debate with slippery arch-conservative weasel William F. Buckley. Fucking hilarious. I busted a gut.

But seriously, in the special features there is also a fascinating bi-lingual debate with Foucault where they thrash out some po-mo theory. Interesting in that they each reply in their own native language, and don't rely on translators, and it makes sense.
posted by ovvl at 2:49 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

See also Balibo, an excellent dramatisation of the killing of Shackleton+4.
posted by polyglot at 10:04 PM on August 29, 2010

"I am ashamed of myself for never having heard about it, and ashamed of...Western media for completely ignoring it."

I used to read about East Timor all the time when I had a subscription to the Economist a years back, among other things. In my opinion, if you are not getting you news from a wide variety of sources in and outside the country (and even the West), then you are not getting the news at all.
posted by jdotglenn at 1:51 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

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