The Truth and Reconcilation Report

The “Truth and Reconcilation Report” (commonly referred to as CAVR – the Portuguese abbreviation) was released on 2 February on the internet (

In the words of the report itself, the intention of the report is :
“to establish the truth about the human rights violations which occurred in Timor-Leste throughout the 25-year period between 1974 and 1999”.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that East Timor achieved independence in 2002 after a popular referendum in 2000, gave 74% support for full independence. This came after some fairly turbulent times when Indonesian-backed “militias” ransacked the country when the Indonesians withdrew in 1999.

The 25 years refers to the period when the Indonesian ruled the country after the withdrawal of the Portuguese in 1974.

I’ll leave the 2500 page report (actually 2664 pages in downloadable PDF format) for you to read at your leisure and summarise by the weekend, but lets just say some pretty nasty stuff went on.

From this end, one of the fascinating features of this nasty period of world history, is the reaction of the Timorese people themselves. In general, there is no enduring desire for vengeance. I guess most people have their own battles to fight just to survive, but basically, the people come across as very peaceful and calm. Most foreigners comment on this.

Of course, there are some people who are genuinely seeking some sort of redress.

President Xanana Gusmao, who himself spent 10 years in a Jakarta prison, seems genuinely insistent that seeking revenge is not the way to go and things will be better if the terms of engagement with the quite different current Indonesian government are best served by moving on.

However, looking at it from a world perspective, it is probably best that the truth come out and the bad bits are not just swept under the carpet. But who knows what will happen from here.