Saturday, November 19, 2016


With so many massacres   going on  in various parts of the  world , ceremonies  marking  the 25th  anniversary of the November 12 , 1991    Santa Cruz Cemetery   massacre of    270   pro-independence   marchers   by  Indonesian  troops held in the Timor Leste  capital of  Dili and  in the Northern Territory  capital , Darwin ,  received   little coverage  by  the  Australian  media.

At  the  Dili  ceremony   was   American  journalist  Allan  Nairn  who with fellow American reporter  Amy Goodman were  at the cemetery the day of the massacre . Nairn  received  a  fractured   skull when  he threw  himself  over the top  of   Goodman to  prevent her  being  beaten  about the  head  by  the  rifle butts  of   the   Indonesians .

In a live  cross to Nairn  by  Amy Goodman who hosts  Democracy  Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour heard across more than 900 stations in North America ,   this is part of what he  had to  say  about  the  slaughter re-enactment  :

"...These  were young people, many of whom were not born at the time of the massacre, or they were little kids. They played the part, the soldiers and the marchers, and they had studied their history. At the end of this pageant, it looked like it did on that day. That street, the actual street in front of the cemetery, was covered with   bodies.

" But these bodies rose up.  They started singing. People who were playing the soldiers came forward, they broke their guns. And the spirit was not solemn. It wasn’t mourning. There was crying, but it was like a celebration of power. People often make the mistake of underestimating their own power. That was not the atmosphere here. People were celebrating it, because what the Timorese actually did after the real Dili massacre was they sparked an  international  movement.

" In the U.S., we were able, through grassroots pressure, to get the Congress to cut off U.S. military aid to the Indonesian military one step at a time, and eventually ended the  occupation  of  Timor. They won their independence.

"It also brought down the dictator, Suharto, of Indonesia, because when the Indonesians themselves rose in rebellion against him in Jakarta in '98, he looked into the faces of those Indonesian protesters, and he imagined he saw the eyes of the Timorese. He  was afraid, if he opened fire on the—on his own protesters, his remaining U.S. aid would be cut off.

"His security man told me later they specifically feared it would be another Santa Cruz, that they'd pay too heavy of a price, because the Timorese had already made them pay a price. So Suharto trembled, he hesitated, and he fell, because the people in Jakarta were emboldened. They kept coming out in the streets in waves, and they ended that dictatorship.

"And all this radiated from the actions of the East Timorese, who on that morning seemed like they were crushed..."

 (Footage of  the 1991  massacre was   smuggled  out  through Darwin  and  shocked the world , resulting in  the  US  cutting  off  military aid  to Indonesia  and eventually independence .)

Amy  Goodman  has  been  in  Dakota recently   covering  the   protest by the Sioux  about  the pipeline  being   run across their  territory  and officials there  have charged her in what is seen as  an attempt to  stop reporters  doing  their   job .

Participating in  the   Darwin anniversary , part of  which was held at the cemetery and attended by  members of the   large  Timorese  community , was   agronomist   Robert Wesley-Smith, a  longtime  activist  for  East Timor   from   1975 .