by Scott Hamilton
Anzac troops are commiting human rights abuses, and the East Timorese want them to go home.
After the recent article I wrote comparing the occupations of Iraq and East Timor appeared on indymedia.org.nz and the Aussie website Labor Tribune, I received a number of angry e mails accusing me of exaggerating the 'problems' in East Timor and taking an 'ultra-left' position by opposing the presence of Anzac troops there.
One of these messages claimed that the occupation was supported by East Timorese 'from across the political spectrum'; another insisted that Australian and New Zealand troops were 'there to help' the East Timorese.
This sort of ignorance is not entirely surprising, because the big anti-occupation protests that have shaken East Timor over the past month have been under-reported, even in the media of the activist left. The huge demonstrations which followed the shooting of three refugee protesters by Aussie troops on February the 23rd, and the bloody raid that killed five opponents of the occupation south of Dili on March the 4th, have been characterised by much of the mainstream media as mere 'mob violence', and further evidence of the need for Anzac forces to occupy and 'stabilise' East Timor.
The widespread misrepresentation of the events of the past month make the following document, which was composed up by 'Internally Displaced Persons' resident at a camp outside Dili, invaluable. The refugees' statement was written in the aftermath of the deadly Anzac attack on the camp on February the 23rd, and it moves from a vivid description of a series of human rights abuses to a clear call for Anzac forces to leave East Timor.