For almost a quarter of a century from 1975-1999 the people of East Timor lived and died under Indonesia’s colonial yoke. During this time East Timor lost a quarter of its population and its people endured daily violence and fear. Against all the odds East Timor’s resistance survived. Indonesia relied on western support for both the invasion and occupation of East Timor, but New Zealand’s role is often forgotten or mentioned only in passing.
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Negligent Neighbour reveals that story. Using declassified official documents, historical research, records of the New Zealand solidarity movement, interviews with some key players and personal recollections and experiences, Maire Leadbeater has aimed to shine a light in a very dark place- the history of New Zealand’s support for the invasion and occupation of East Timor.
East Timor’s tragedy raises deep questions about the ties that bind New Zealand to the foreign policy directions set by the United States and Australia. A small nation was cynically sacrificed to suit the geo-political agenda of the West. Negligent Neighbour exposes what went wrong in the past in the interests of putting things right in the present.
What happened in East Timor tells us much about how the modern world is ordered, and where the true source of modern terrorism lies. Maire Leadbeater's outstanding book carefully documents the often secret role played by New Zealand governments, and the opportunities that were wantonly lost.
With careful use of source documents, Maire Leadbeater has put together a highly readable insider's account of the tug-of-war between activists and the New Zealand Government, in the fight for East Timor's independence from Indonesia. History shows the activists were right …
President, Auckland Council for Civil Liberties