It takes a deft hand to not only erase an active sponsor of genocidal
violence, but also hide some 200,000 butchered human beings. Yet Guido Guilliart
of the Associated Press did so in a single sentence:
"Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and ruled the tiny half-island
territory with an iron fist until 1999, when a U.N.-organized plebiscite resulted
in an overwhelming vote for independence."
The ol' "iron fist" line. Seemingly descriptive, but in this case,
incredibly vague. An honest, accurate account would read:
"Indonesia invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975, after receiving the
green light from then-U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger, who visited Jakarta on the eve of the Indonesian invasion. Indonesia
ruled the tiny half-island territory through terror and mass murder, killing
some 200,000 Timorese, nearly a third of East Timor's population, thanks to
several billion in military and economic support from the United States. This
state of siege lasted until 1999, when a U.N.-organized plebiscite resulted
in an overwhelming vote for independence. The Clinton administration continued
to finance the Indonesian military as it committed more atrocities in a last-ditch
attempt to stem Timorese independence. As U.S. Ambassador to Jakarta, Stapleton
Roy, told reporters at the time, 'Indonesia matters, East Timor does not.'
International pressure and outrage in Congress finally forced President Clinton
to halt military aid on September
Something tells me that if the Soviets or Saddam were financing these atrocities,
especially over a 24 year period, their sponsorship would be mentioned. Indeed,
we'd never hear the end of it. But knowing when to tell the whole story, if
telling it at all, is one of the many tricks a journalist must learn in order
to climb the mainstream ladder. An "iron rule," if you will.
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