Book Review: Timor

Timor, O maior campo de extermínio do mundo, The biggest extermination camp in the world, La plej granda ekstermejo en la mondo, by Miguel Faria de Bastos

I must admit that I have not greatly studied the problem of Timorese oppression under Indonesian misrule, although I am glad that East Timor has joined the rank of independent nations.  From the point of someone who is a melancholy student of genocide [1], this book does a good job at seeking to convince the reader about the absolute horror suffered under the Indonesians, while also conveying the difficulty of quantifying the nature of that genocide.  The book, as might be imagined for a relatively contemporary propaganda writing, estimates on the high side when it comes to the number and percentage of East Timorians killed by the Indonesians from their invasion to the time the book was written in the late 1990s.  Even if the numbers end up closer to the Indonesian efforts, though, the point is effectively made that Timor suffered massively under Indonesian rule and that the country was worthy of independence.  Whether this book helped in allowing that to take place, I do not pretend to know, but the case was successfully made and this book likely had at least some role in shaping the views of decision-makers.

The contents of this slim volume of less than 70 pages are remarkable.  The main contents of the book consist of a Foreword, discussion of Timor as the biggest extermination camp in the world by percentage in the 20th century, and acknowledgements in Portuguese, English, and Esperanto, making this a striking and unusual triglot volume.  After this section there are appendices of photographs, maps, tables, and graphics in all three languages as well as a bibliography and index of contents, in customary Esperanto style at the end of the book rather than at the beginning as is the English-language convention.  The book is filled throughout with footnotes that cite just how serious the disaster of Indonesian rule was, and are definitely aimed at public opinion in Australia, as that nation is blamed for having supported the Indonesian invasion in order to overcome the threat of Communism.  The author also notes that the nation of East Timor became Catholic in large part because the Roman Catholic Church was the only organ by which nationalists could legitimately congregate during the long period of Indonesian domination, suggesting as well that it is likely that the East Timorese church became corrupted by liberation theology (although, given their oppression, that would not be surprising).

Overall, despite the fact that there is a lot about the story of East Timor where I doubt the veracity of the author, this book is certainly a striking example of an effective effort in propaganda on behalf of a would-be nation.  Those nations who have similarly suffered from invasions and struggle for world acceptance, like Somaliland and Western Sahara, the latter cause of which is similarly hurt because of the left-wing political agenda of its strongest party, would do well to imitate the example of this author in putting their own horrors with impressive documentation as well as frightening charts and graphs that show the damage suffered because of regimes supported by the West for reasons of state.  Although the current mood of the world does not appear to be all that supportive of such nationalist causes among forgotten corners of the world, those difficulties should not prevent such efforts from being made in order to appeal to those who have at least some interest in the well-being of the wider world at large.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, International Relations, Military History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Book Review: Timor

  1. Pingback: Book Review: By Bread Alone | Edge Induced Cohesion

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