The people of East Timor have suffered horribly at the hands of the Indonesian military, a panel of activists said at Pound Hall last night.
The East Timorese activists some of whom have been imprisoned and tortured for their involvement in the resistance movement, conducted a forum on the history and importance of these strike as part of their campaign to educate America and the world about the current situation on the Island.
The event was sponsored by the East Timor Action Network/United States.
The panelists showed slides of dead East Timorese women and children, including one particularly graphic photo of an infant who had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
Maria Teresa Fernades, an East Timorese woman living in Australia, showed photos of her aunts and cousins who were killed by soldiers of the Indonesian Army. They projected maps of the Island of Timor, followed by a brief history of the conflict.
East Timor declared its Independence from Portugal in 1975 and was invaded by Indonesia less than a month later. Since then, the activists and more than 200,000 East Timorese have been killed either by the Indonesian Army or by the resulting starvation.
Constancto Pinto, secretary of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM) characterized the atrocities as "proportionally worse than the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia."
Pinto said one third of the East Timorese people had died in the strife and starvation that followed the Indonesian invasion.
On November 12, 1991 more than 200 East Timorese were gunned down by the Indonesian army during a peaceful March for self-determination. Pinto said this event drove him into hiding until he could be smugled out of East Timor by the resistance also sparked that formation of his group, which aims to educate the world about the present East Timorese situation.
"I am here to be the voice of my people who suffer under the rule of Indonesian," said Abe Herreto Soares, North American representative of CNRM.
'Nothing but Guns and Death'
When asked about possible benefits of the Indonesian occupation, Pinto said. "We get nothing but guns and death from Indonesia." The group called for the withdrawal of the Indonesian army and advocated a U.N. sanctioned referendum on the future of East Timor.
The activists also charged the United States with actively encouraging the original invasion. They cited as evidence the fact that then Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger '55 left Indonesia only 12 hours before the 1975 invasion.