Episode 31: National Unity at What Cost: Remembering East Timor

In this episode, we commemorate the upcoming 18th anniversary of the East Timor Independence Referendum of 1999, where through a UN-led mission East Timor (now Timor Leste) gained independence from Indonesia, which invaded and occupied the territory since 1975. In light of the growing West Papua independence movement, as well as an alarming rise in ‘blind patriotism’ — best symbolized by the indiscriminate use of the phrase “NKRI Harga Mati” (implying ‘national unity’ or bust) — we think it’s incredibly important to remember the atrocities that preceded East Timor’s independence and learn its lessons about nationhood, sovereignty, and self-determination. 

On that front, Stephanie had a conversation with John M. Miller, the national coordinator for ETAN, the East Timor & Indonesia Action Network, an NGO created in 1991 to help facilitate and support East Timor’s right to self-determination, particularly in the face of increasing tensions and subsequent violent clashes with the Indonesian military, the worst of which was the 1999 Santa Cruz Massacre in Dili. 
We hope that in talking about East Timor and honestly confronting the tragedies of the past, we can not only hold our beloved nation accountable but also walk down a greater and more just path for the future of Indonesia. 
Thanks for listening!

For those interested in learning more about the topic, we’ve provided links to resources as well as other recommended readings.
ETAN — East Timor & Indonesia Action Network
The History of Timor Leste — courtesy of Pinter Politik
What Happened in East Timor? — courtesy of Global Issues
Santa Cruz Massacre — read Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman’s account of that fateful day
Free Papua Movement — the West Papuan movement for independence
ETAN’s Solidarity Survey — help ETAN determine how they can best work in solidarity for justice, human rights and democracy in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and West Papua
Join ETAN’s Mailing List — keep up to date with ETAN-related news through this newsletter