|Uniya - Jesuit Social Justice Centre||CONTENTS||Spring 1995|
To remember the depth and extent of the East Timorese suffering may
become, in Johann Metz's terms, a dangerous memory, one that will not
let us rest. Memory will not permit us to 'put it all behind us', as Bob
Hawke urged us in the 1980s. Grief, in Walter Brueggemann's terms, is a
revolutionary act. It declares that something awful and serious has
happened and may be still occurring.
Long ago Moses' grief for Israel led him to cry "Let my people go!" That cry challenged the dominant culture's ideology and refused to concede that everything was going well. Similarly grief over East Timor may lead us to challenge the modern pharaohs' reassurance that if all is not quite right yet, it soon will be.The powers of this world urge us to grieve politely and briefly. Grieving that is prolonged or too loud is deemed unhealthy, likely to disturb peace, harmony and reconciliation. But contrast the spirit of Moses who grieved for Israel, or the spirit of Jesus who grieved for Lazarus and wept over Jerusalem. Each dared to challenge the power of death. We in modern Australia are being challenged to hear the call to remember and grieve.
For the East Timorese, the most important action we can take is to remember. And just as important is to grieve. Memory and grief will guard us against too easy an acceptance of 'reality' defined by the wise of this world. From memory and grief justice springs.
Reasons are not far to find:
According to Amnesty International, the international community, including Australia, shares responsibility for human rights abuses in East Timor. Our complicity ranges from silence in the face of specific abuses to continuing to supply military equipment and training to Indonesians. Joint exercises with Indonesian units known for their human rights abuses, continue. Trade, too, continues as usual. There is no concerted international pressure on Indonesia.
Real access to East Timor remains unavailable. Visiting delegations are closely watched. Many East Timorese are tortured, imprisoned or mistreated for gathering information such as appears in this article.
East Timor is, as Sr Kath O'Connor remarks, the land of Nicodemus. The broken, the brave and the grieving whisper the truth in darkness and danger.Our first task is to listen attentively to what the East Timorese are saying at risk to their lives. Our second is the work of solidarity and finding ways to let the Timorese know that we have heard.
One avenue of contact is through Sr Kath and Christians in Solidarity with East Timor. CISET responds to the plea of the East Timorese that we remember, grieve with them and together seek justice and peace.
Above material is from the Uniya Newsletter: used with permission.
The Cardoner, © Copyright 1995 by Jack Otto.