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Review: Masters of terror

Review: Masters of terror
Published: Mar 29, 2008

Indonesia’s Military and Violence in East Timor


Richard Tanter, Desmond Ball and Gerry van Klinken (editors)

Lanham MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2006
ISBN 978072538344  A$33.00

Masters of Terror: Indonesia’s Military and Violence in East Timor provides a detailed and rigorous account of the violence perpetrated by the Indonesian military and pro-Indonesian militias in East Timor during 1999.

The book commences with an unusually useful set of abbreviations, a select chronology, and a list of major violent incidents which occurred both before and following the independence vote in August 1999. The main chapters of the book then concentrate on clarifying the roles of individuals and the lines of responsibility for human rights abuses.

This edition is based on a book published in 2002 by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. Absent in the new version is an already widely available report by James Dunn. Added is a forward by Noam Chomsky, a revised introduction by Hamish McDonald and Richard Tanter, and an afterword by Gerry van Klinken, all of which help round out the book.

At first glance the material may appear to have been outpaced by events. This edition was drawn together before the turmoil in East Timor in 2006 and 2007 brought further complications to the limited possibilities for justice. Moreover, various justice-related processes that have run their course are not examined in detail in the book.

However, read as it is designed to be, namely a detailed text clarifying key events in 1999, the contents of this book remain of enduring value. Moreover, with a new publisher and in turn a potentially wider audience, this book serves as a reminder of the continuing need to bring high-level offenders to account for the violence and destruction that occurred in 1999.     ii

Reviewed by Damian Grenfell (damian.grenfell@rmit.edu.au )


Inside Indonesia 91: Jan-Mar 2008



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