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East Timor Truth Commission report uses declassified U.S. documents to reveal support for Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor from 1975 until U.N. sponsored vote in 1999

National Security Archive provides more than 1000 documents to East Timor Truth Commission after Bush Administration refuses cooperation

East Timorese youth being tortured and killed by member of the Indonesian military (Released by Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta in 1996)
"I'm assuming you're really going to keep your mouth shut on this subject?"
- National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to his staff in October 1975 in response to reports that Indonesia had begun its attack on East Timor.

Washington, D.C., November 28, 2005 - Today, East Timorese President Xanana Gusmão transmits to Parliament the final report of East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) on human rights violations committed in East Timor between 1974 and 1999, and the National Security Archive is making available to the public some of the more than 1,000 formerly classified U.S. documents that it provided to assist the work of the CAVR.

According to the CAVR, the timing of the release to the public of either the 2,500 page report or its executive summary will now be determined by East Timor's Parliament. The National Security Archive's Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project is releasing these U.S. documents in the hopes of encouraging the speediest possible release and widest possible dissemination of the CAVR's findings, which are strongly critical of the role of the international community in supporting Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor. Today is also the 30th anniversary of East Timor's (Timor-Leste) November 28, 1975 declaration of independence.

"We expect the final report of the CAVR to demonstrate, as these documents do, that Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor and the resulting crimes against humanity occurred in an international context in which the support of powerful nations, especially the United States, was indispensable," said Brad Simpson, assistant professor of history at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Director of the National Security Archive's Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project. "These documents also point to the need for genuine international accountability for East Timor's suffering, especially as Indonesia embarks on its own truth commission process."

The documents included in this briefing book were declassified in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Archive's Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project, after the Bush Administration refused a CAVR request for U.S. documents. The project aims to assist efforts to document and seek accountability for more than three decades of human rights abuses committed during the rule of Indonesian President Suharto (1965-1998).

Among the revelations in these formerly secret documents:

  • U.S. officials adopted a "policy of silence" and sought to suppress news and discussion of East Timor, though they knew of Indonesian plans to invade nearly a year in advance
  • The Ford Administration knew that Indonesia had invaded East Timor almost entirely using U.S. equipment, knew the use of this equipment was illegal and discussed circumventing any possible Congressional ban on military aid to Indonesia
  • In 1977, Carter Administration officials blocked declassification of the explosive cable transcribing President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger's December 6, 1975 meeting with Indonesian President Suharto in which they explicitly approved of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.
  • Through the 1980s, U.S. officials continued to receive - and deny or dismiss - credible reports of Indonesian massacres of Timorese civilians
  • In 1993, the U.S. Ambassador in Jakarta concluded that the Suharto regime's effort to integrate East Timor into Indonesia had failed, and that "the repressive and pervasive Indonesian military presence is the main obstacle to the government's goal of integration."
  • In September 1999 the CIA reported on Indonesian military and militia violence following East Timor's vote for independence as a form of terrorism, reporting that "the military has supported or worked alongside the militias."

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