1990s >> 1992 >> no-1050-february-1992

Between the Lines: Death, hypocrisy and videotape


Has nobody told Stormin’ Norman about East Timor? Were we not told by the trigger-happy hypocrites who gave us the Gulf War that the invasion of one country by another was intolerable and must be defeated by force? First Tuesday (BBC2, 7 January, 10.45pm) told the hitherto unexposed story of the ruthless butchery of the Timorese people which has gone on for sixteen years.

In 1975 East Timor became independent from Portuguese control and elected its own government. That year Indonesia took over East Timor, outlawed the elected government and began a process of imposing control by means of brutal coercion. It is estimated that one in three of the population have been killed since the Indonesian take-over. In sixteen years as many as 250,000 Timorese workers are said to have been done away with. This is legalised terrorism on a mass scale. It is virtual genocide.

So, where are “our boys” whose task is to defend “the good” against “the evil”? (Remember all that “Free Kuwait” rubbish? The Kuwaiti dictatorship now presides over torture and mass deportations of its subjects.) The answer is that the only American and British arms being sent into the area are being sold to Indonesia.

The governments which claimed to have fought a war in the Gulf against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait are selling to Indonesia the means to unlawfully colonise East Timor. The alleged atrocities committed by Iraqis against Kuwaitis are being committed by Indonesian state thugs against the Timorese workers as a matter of course, but, despite several detailed reports by Amnesty International, the governments of Britain, the USA or Australia (the latter being a major trading partner with Indonesia) just stand by. Of course, hypocrisy is as attached to capitalist politics as fleas are to a dirty dog. How else can the cynical, anti-human policies of defending profit and damning need be justified?

The well-made First Tuesday documentary contained shocking footage of the 12 December 1991 funeral demonstration where Timorese workers were burying a man killed by the Indonesian army. At the funeral Indonesian troops fired on the crowd, killing one hundred mourners, others died on their way to and in hospital.

Indonesian brutality has given rise to an ill-equipped campaign of military resistance by desperate Timorese workers. Such counter-violence is futile: semi-armed guerrilla fighters will be no match for American-backed Indonesian state thugs, and anyway, killing Indonesian workers in uniform will not make anyone free, just a few more graves full.

The tragedy of East Timor reflects vividly the crass hypocrisy of Western celebrations about the coming of “Freedom” and the decency of King Capital’s New World Order. It shows just how much the Gulf War was fought for oil profits and just how true it is that if Kuwait would have been as relatively poor as East Timor and if Iraq had been Indonesia things would have been different.


The government has deregulated the law relating to TV, so now we are “free” – if we pay for it (in short, capitalist freedom) – to watch two new pom channels: After Midnight and Adult Channel. Behind the Headlines (BBC2, 8 January. 10.55pm) had a discussion on what such “freedom” will mean. In future viewers will be sold little plastic cards which they can slot into their TVs in order to watch sleazy movies made for sleazy men.

The programme also discussed the new 0898 sex lines on which consumers with such desires can pay 45p a minute listening to out-of-work actresses pretending to be naughty schoolgirls or busty nurses. There is even an 0898 number on which a genuine rape victim has been paid £3,000 to give a recorded account of her rape ordeal. Sweet freedom, eh? The poor woman is “free” to sell her pathetic story and men who are excited by rape (the stealing of the sexual commodity) can listen to her for just over a quid an orgasm.

Meanwhile Decca has announced that in February it is to release a video of the most salacious bits of the William Kennedy Smith rape trial – yours to enjoy in complete “freedom” for £10.99 a copy.

If this is freedom, then it is a lunatic’s conception of what it is to be free. It is the freedom to sell, to exploit, to degrade, to abuse, to drag humanity through the dirt. Perhaps someone could market an 0898 number with recordings of children being tortured in East Timor; there might be a few bob to be made out of the screwballs who will get off on that.

Steve Coleman