Against the Current, No. 65, November/December 1996

The Editors

THE TWO-DECADE GENOCIDE in East Timor has become news with the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Carlos Felipe Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta, two courageous Timorese activists. Since the Indonesian military regime invaded East Timor in 1975, a third of the population has died from starvation, epidemics and military repression.

East Timor became the prime example, in the “propaganda model” analysis developed by Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman, of the media’s disinterest in massacres perpetrated by “friendly” governments. Indeed, it was primarily through Chomsky, his collaborators, and small solidarity newsletters that East Timor was known at all in this country.

The co-winners called for a referendum on autonomy to end Indonesia’s miitary rule over the country. Along with that demand, the U.S.-based East Timor Action Network couples ending all U.S. arms sales–including the proposed F-16 jet fighters–to Indonesia. For further information, contact: or call John M. Miller at 718-788-6071.

The Nobel Peace Prize, for reasons that remain obscure, seems to alternate between genuinely heroic figures, like Rigobertu Menchu or this year’s recipients, and world-class thugs such as Henry Kissinger or Yitzhak Rabin. Prominent lobbies for the 1996 prize had been mounted for Richard Holbrooke, whose “achievement” was to force the republic of Bosnia to accept ethnic dismemberment. It is at least a small triumph for social justice that the Nobel selection committee, this year, came up winners.

ATC 65, November-December 1996