FROM THE PLACE OF THE DEAD by Arnold S. Kohen

FROM THE PLACE OF THE DEAD

The Epic Struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A timely, politically charged biography of Bishop Carlos X. Belo, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1996 for his efforts to end the oppression of the people of East Timor at the hands of the Indonesian military. Kohen, a former investigative reporter with NBC News, canonizes Belo for his struggle to minimize the human impact of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, but his saintly portrait of a great humanitarian rising to the call of the suffering masses seems less intriguing than his extremely acute political analysis of the ongoing crisis. Of particular interest is the involvement of the US throughout the 28-year history of the conflict. From Kissinger’s nod to the Suharto government when he declared that the US “understands Indonesia’s position,” on the eve of the invasion in 1975, to the deployment of American-made OV-10 Bronco counterguerrilla planes during the “70s, to the millions of dollars of questionable campaign contributions received by the Clinton administration, the Indonesian invasion has been facilitated by the US government. Not until the Santa Cruz cemetery massacre of 1991, captured live by the international media (more than 250 youngsters gunned down by Indonesian troops), did any serious international attention focus on the occupation. Noam Chomsky and others have written extensively about the failure of the Western media to cover human-rights violations in East Timor, and Kohen’s graphic description of youthful protestors being shot down with American-made M-16 rifles renders the reasons for such a news blackout quite clear’stories about “emerging markets” trump those about human-rights violations every time. The collapse of the Indonesian economy and the end of Suharto’s dictatorship have made that country increasingly dependent on the West. Kohen issues an important call for members of the financial First World to take advantage of their influence by bringing pressure on the Indonesian government to end its brutal policies in East Timor.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19885-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999




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