Hugh O’Shaunessey, formerly Foreign Correspondent with ‘The Observer’, was one of the first journalists to highlight the Indonesian genocide in East Timor and since has consistently drawn it to the public’s attention.
1995 sees the 20th anniversary of the invasion and illegal occupation of East Timor. The appalling condition of East Timor is not in dispute. Indonesia has brought about the deaths of about 200,000 East Timorese and seeded the Catholic country with about 100,000 settlers, mostly Islamic and often forced, from Java. Its military government has starved the people and tried to break their language and culture. It has jailed resisters and abolished free speech.
On November 12th 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a crowd of unarmed and peaceful demonstrators at the Santa Cruz Cemetery in the capital, Dili. The demonstration followed a Mass for a pro-democracy activist who had been shot by the Indonesian army.
The determination of a few has helped to keep this small distant place on the radar screen. Courageous journalism has helped. The massacre of Santa Cruz was caught on camera, and the work of John Pilger and Hugh O’Shaughnessy has played a great part in disorienting the Jakarta government, which never expected that its Timorese adventure would still be in contention 20 years later.