East Timor truth commission finds U.S. culpable

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The final report of East Timor's landmark Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) has found that U.S. "political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation" of East Timor from 1975 to 1999, according to the "Responsibility" chapter of the report posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive, which assisted the Commission with extensive documentation.

The Commission report, entitled "Chega!" ("Enough" in Portuguese), estimates that up to 180,000 East Timorese were killed by Indonesian troops or died of enforced starvation and other causes resulting from the occupation between 1975 and 1999. The "Responsibility" chapter details the primary role of the Indonesian military and security forces, as well as the supporting roles played by Australia, Portugal, the United States, the United Nations, the United Kingdom, and France.

The report (p. 92) finds that "U.S. supplied weaponry was crucial to Indonesia's capacity to intensify military operations from 1977 in its massive campaigns to destroy the Resistance in which aircraft supplied by the United States played a crucial role." Moreover, "U.S. Administration officials refused to admit that the primary reason that East Timorese were dying in their thousands was the security policies of the Indonesian military."

The CAVR used more than 1,000 formerly secret U.S. documents provided by the National Security Archive's Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project, which published on the Web in November 2005 several of the key documents detailing U.S. support for the invasion and occupation of East Timor across five U.S. administrations.

The report (p. 92) notes that "In response to the massive violations that occurred in Timor-Leste in September 1999 President Clinton threw the considerable influence of the United States behind efforts to press the Indonesian Government to accept the deployment of an international force in the territory, demonstrating the considerable leverage that it could have exerted earlier had the will been there."

The National Security Archive obtained a copy of the chapter of the CAVR report titled "Responsibility and Accountability" from copies circulating in the international press, and posted the chapter today because East Timor's government has not yet put the full text of the truth commission report in the public domain or published its contents online, despite having delivered the report to the Timorese parliament in November and to the United Nations on January 20.

The CAVR's final report strongly criticizes the role of the international community in supporting Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor, and recommends reparations from the governments of Indonesia, the U.S. and United Kingdom and from Western arms manufacturers who played crucial roles in supporting Indonesia's actions.

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