A new book is launched today in Wellington: Negligent Neighbours: New Zealand's Complicity in the Invasion and Occupation of Timor Leste. Written by Maire Leadbeater, the book details how both National and Labour governments have provided private or tacit support for Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. The book says that New Zealand officials and ministers didn't want to rock the book with Indonesia, even in regard to the murder of a New Zealander in East Timor. NZ even told Indonesia that it would play down the invasion of the country.
Hard-headed diplomats in western capitals made a conscious decision to feed East Timor to the Indonesian beast. They did not want a small, easily sacrificed nation to upset an important ally in the Cold War. They feared Fretilin would take Timor into the communist camp, although Fretilin was actually a social democratic movement. They decided that independent Timor, in short, would be better dead than red.
The newspaper, along with Leadbeater, is especially critical of NZ diplomats who played a central part in East Timor's oppression because they didn't want to 'harm our own relations with Indonesia'. The newspaper says: 'Diplomats in particular have created an aura of expertise in order to protect their power. Foreign affairs, they would have us believe, is a high intellectual mystery open only to the specially-trained. In fact, this is nonsense. Thirty-one years after the first massacre, who has been proved right about East Timor? Not the highly-educated and well-informed officials who thought Timor could be quietly suppressed.'