By Ryan Liddell
On November 5, the NSW Board of Studies announced that a new course on the history of East Timor would be offered for future higher school certificate candidates, a recognition of the widespread public support for the Timorese.
The changes are viewed as provocative by Indonesian officials. Sashandojo, the Indonesian ambassador to Australia, claimed that media reports of the situation were biased and not factual, making them inappropriate as educational material.
He particularly objected to the use of such words as "annexation" and "invasion" and protested that "the good will of Indonesia is never mentioned". He claimed that Indonesia and its armed forces were responsible for the restoration of order in East Timor after it was "abandoned" by its Portuguese colonialists.
Sashandojo's attempted whitewash may be what the regime wants us to think, but it's a long way from the truth. East Timor was invaded in 1975 by Indonesian troops under the dictatorship of former President Suharto. Since then, more than 200,000 East Timorese people have been killed or died of starvation.
But whilst Sashandojo's rewriting of history isn't fooling anybody, he's not the only one trying.
The Australian government also tries to present its policy as being "Timorese friendly" — but it's far from it. Today, Australia is the only country in the world to acknowledge East Timor as part of Indonesia, and Australia spends $7.1 million on training Indonesian troops.
This history also should be taught, the real history of the tragedy in East Timor and the Australian government's dirty role in it.