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Analyzing the Welfare System

Treatment of the East Timorese

I would like to offer a different perspective than that contained in your editorial "East Timor: Time for Accounting," April 24.

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There is no question that the unrest and lack of health resources and adequate supplies of food that immediately followed the Portuguese withdrawal from East Timor unfortunately resulted in lives lost on all sides. But, the numbers you cite are totally inaccurate and the lives lost were largely as a result of the social dislocations following the Portuguese abandonment rather than any Indonesian military actions.

There was no professionally administered census to support population figures in East Timor until 1980, so it is impossible to compare current figures with earlier estimates.

Indonesia has carefully followed UN policies on decolonization in the integration of East Timor. In the face of the Portuguese abandonment, Indonesia has carried out the provisions of the UN Charter to the letter.

The incident last November in which lives were lost at a demonstration in the East Timor capital of Dili was condemned by both the government and the people of Indonesia. We do not condone irresponsible actions no matter who carries them out. We do respect human rights. M. Hannief Djohan, Washington, Counselor for Press and Information Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia

Editor's note: The Monitor stands by its references in the above-named editorial to the 200,000 East Timorese killed between 1975 and 1977, and the 200 killed in last November's demonstration in Dili.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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