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East Timor Turns Ten: Looking Forward, Looking Back

July 18, 2012

Over at Warscapes, Zésopol Carlito Caminha has an astonishingly beautiful, but brief, photo essay on the tenth anniversary of independence from Indonesia. In Zésopol’s words, the photographs “depict the juxtaposition of an environment which continues to reflect our militarized past, alongside the vision for a peaceful future of the next generation.” Enjoy.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out CM Rien Kuntari’s piece, “Timor: The Final Hour,” taken from her book Timor Timur.  As quick background, she notes that the book’s appearance “not only resulted in the loss of my twenty-year tenure as war correspondent for Kompas Daily, the highest circulation national newspaper in Indonesia, but also in my ongoing exile in the US due to threats to my life. The book created controversy because of its explicitly unbiased coverage of the atrocities committed in East Timor between July and November 1999 in which I name East Timorese factions responsible for numerous deaths, but more seriously the names of Indonesian National Army figureheads that were involved in conspiracy and campaign propaganda days before the referendum.”

What follows is riveting, like this description of the murder of Bernadino Guterres, a university student from Java: “The two bullets lodged in Bernadino’s neck, close to his left ear. He toppled over and slumped to the ground. Blood flowed from his body. The asphalt beneath him reddened quickly. All was quiet. Everyone stopped to look at the body: skinny, dark, wearing a red hat and crumpled, stained jeans. The shooter, a Brimob officer with fair skin, round eyes and a stoic face, turned around. With chilling calm, he simply walked back and resumed his original position in the line of Brimob officers. At dusk, the whole city of Dili was overtaken by a deathly silence. The only sound was the wailing of Bernadino’s mother, whose eyes rolled in disbelief when she saw her beloved son shot dead in the street. ‘He’s my son…He’s my son…He’s my son…’ she cried.”

These two pieces are part of Warscapes Indonesia retrospective. For more, click here.


One Comment leave one →
  1. July 21, 2012 3:59 am

    The violent legacy left in East Timor by the Indonesian occupation continues to manifest even after a decade of independence. There have been several breakdowns in the rule of law, human rights violations by the police and military, and, with the 2012 parliamentary elections, violence yet again as the old conflicts lay unresolved and the vast majority of the population live in poverty, degradation and deprivation.

    Just last weekend, there was another killing of an innocent man by the security forces.

    Meanwhile, the Petroleum Fund has accumulated more than $10 billion dollars and this represents another juxtaposition between the wealth of the nation and the poverty of its people. It is certainly appropriate to celebrate the political independence of the nation but the general population has little to celebrate until the the national wealth is equitably used to resolve the economic problems.

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