You asked for it, you got it. Here is my presentation on East Timor, from soup to nuts. It’s a story of bloodshed, atrocity, suffering, oppression, resistance, nonviolent struggle, peace, and hope. It’s how I met my wife and why I am who I am today.
You probably heard that hardcore badass journalist Marie Colvin died recently while covering the siege of Homs in Syria.
Colvin lost her left eye to an RPG in 2001 while covering the Sri Lankan Civil War.
But here’s the bit I only learned about today. I’ll quote a press release from the office of East Timor’s Prime Minister:
“Marie Colvin holds a special place in the hearts of the Timorese people. In 1999 she was one of three journalists, all women, who refused to leave a UN compound holding 1,500 Timorese women and children after it came under attack by militias. All of their lives were in grave danger. Her reporting in through newsprint and global television helped to avert a tragic massacre and after four tense days the group were evacuated to safety. This act of courage and solidarity has never been forgotten.”
Whenever someone starts telling me about how beautiful Megan Fox or Kristin Stewart is, I laugh and say: No. Marie Colvin is beautiful.
John Pilger is one of the world’s most important journalists (alongside Amy Goodman and Robert Fisk). He was instrumental in alterting the world to the genocide in East Timor, and he has spent decades reporting on the victims of powerful military machines.
In his latest film, available to watch in its entirety on YouTube (embedded below), he examines the role of US and UK media in the wars and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel/Palestine, and beyond. Some of you have seen these issues examined in great detail, but I still encourage you to watch this. He provides a large-scale context that is absolutely essential, and offers interviews you won’t see anywhere else.
Foreign Policy in Focus has a really good article up about what’s happened to all the foreign aid that’s gone into East Timor in the last decade. You are hereby ordered to read the whole thing.
Timor-Leste is one of the most oil-dependent countries in the world, where more than 90% of the government’s annual budget comes from petroleum revenues. It imports everything from computer hardware to bottled water. Its infrastructure is very poor, making it hard for local farmers to transport crops to markets. Local farmers must also compete with an influx of imported goods from Australia, Singapore, and other countries. Many Timorese are still struggling with poor healthcare, lack of educational opportunities, little clean water, and other insufficient social services. Social inequality is widening, especially between the capital Dili and other districts.