(CC) Philip Jenkins–Slaughter in East”ˆTimor

The Asian continent has two majority-Christian nations. One, obviously, is the Philippines. Few nonspecialists would know the other example: East Timor. Lying between Australia and Indonesia, it is one of the world’s newest countries””in fact the first new nation of the present century. East Timor is also definitively Christian, with a reported Catholic population of 97 percent. Those bare-bones facts, though, conceal a heroic and often dreadful history, recalling one of the world’s worst atrocities of the late 20th century.

For centuries, East Timor was a Portuguese colony. (The word Timor simply means “east.”) In 1974, a leftist-led revolution in Portugal precipitated a global crisis at the height of the cold war. The Soviet Union and Cuba staged a massive move into Portugal’s African colonies, and the West feared that Timorese liberation forces might create a communist haven in the South Pacific. To prevent that disaster, the United States and its allies supported an Indonesian invasion of East Timor in late 1975.

Political takeovers can take many forms, but this was no simple case of a change of occupiers, with a set of new flags. During their occupation, from 1975 through 1999, the Indonesians ruled with hideous brutality.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, East Timor, Religion & Culture, Violence

One comment on “(CC) Philip Jenkins–Slaughter in East”ˆTimor

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks for posting this, Kendall. It is scandalous how few of us Christians in the Global North know anything about the genocide waged against the Catholics of East Timor in the last quarter of the 20th century. Worse yet is how few care. The scale of the atrocities reported here by Philip Jenkins is staggering, perhaps 20% of the population slaughtered in the futile attempt to preserve Indonesian (and Muslim) control of the island.

    With South Sudan being much in the news lately with the outbreak of widespread fighting and internal strife, it is natural to compare the fates of the two newest nations on earth. In both cases, the long-suffering peoples of South Sudan and East Timor share a similar story of being the victims of massive brutality and virtual genocide, compounded by extreme poverty. The majority Christian population of both new countries has been devastated by years of ruthless Muslim oppression. And yet most American Christians know little about the grim fate of their impoverished and brutally persecuted brothers and sisters, and an even larger number seem to care even less. Lord, have mercy.

    At this time of year, right before Christmas, liturgical Christians can’t help but think of the slaughter of the holy innocents described in Matthew 2, when Herod the Great slaughtered the youngest male children in Bethlehem in a small scale example of similar brutality, drvien by the same lust for power.

    David Handy+