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Don't Forget East Timor

TWO decades ago Indonesian forces swept into the island territory of East Timor after Portugal ended its colonial rule. The East Timorese, with a different religion, language, and history than Indonesia, had hoped to govern themselves.

The years since have witnessed repression and bloodshed (some 200,000 killed) among the worst in the world. The situation burst into wider view in 1991 when Western journalists saw the massacre of 270 East Timorese in the capital, Dili. But the abuses in tiny East Timor all too easily fade from view.

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That shouldn't be allowed. A UN rights-monitoring presence is needed. US military and economic aid to Indonesia should be tightly linked to an end to the repression. The Timorese may not get peacekeepers and headlines, but they shouldn't be forgotten. And they should ultimately have an opportunity for greater autonomy.

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