Challenges of memoralisation. Remembering the Dead in Timor-Leste: Victims or Martyrs?
Amy Rothschild Ithaca College (IC), USA
At least 102,800 Timorese were killed or otherwise died as a result of the 24-year Indonesian occupation of Timor and the preceding civil war. How have these individuals been remembered in Timor's post-independence period? Timor's truth commission, the CAVR, constructed Timor's first official post-independence narrative of the Indonesian occupation. This narrative focused on past violations experienced by Timorese, framing the deceased in a human rights language of suffering victimhood. This narrative has since been largely displaced by a state-promoted narrative of the past focused on Timorese resistance to Indonesian rule. This narrative frames the deceased as heroes or martyrs of Timor's struggle for independence. A language of suffering is replaced by a language of struggle and agency, with the deceased said to have intentionally sacrificed themselves for the nation and for independence. This paper compares and contrasts these two main frameworks through which the dead have been remembered in post-independence and considers the political implications of these narratives for the implementation of CAVR’s final recommendations.