Bitter Flowers, Sweet Flowers : East Timor, Indonesia, and the World Community


East Timor is at last, and at terrible human cost, firmly on the road to independence. The significance of its passage to freedom-for its people, for Asia, and for the world-is manifold. This volume offers a comprehensive overview of East Timor's travail and its triumph in its international context.

East Timor's independence constitutes one of the final and most poignant moments in a long and bitter history of European colonization and decolonization. For the people of East ...

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East Timor is at last, and at terrible human cost, firmly on the road to independence. The significance of its passage to freedom-for its people, for Asia, and for the world-is manifold. This volume offers a comprehensive overview of East Timor's travail and its triumph in its international context.

East Timor's independence constitutes one of the final and most poignant moments in a long and bitter history of European colonization and decolonization. For the people of East Timor, independence from Portugal in 1975 was only the beginning of a new struggle against Indonesian invaders—a struggle that took the lives of 200,000 East Timorese—and one that is by no means over.

The case of East Timor, both during and after the Cold War, provides a litmus test for issues of international responsibility, posing questions of double standards in unusually clear-cut form. It reveals the active support by the United States and other powers for the military forces of Indonesia throughout the years of that nation's invasion and repression of East Timor, until 1998 when the collapse of the Indonesian dictatorship ushered in a new phase in the East Timorese struggle.

Contributions by: Peter Bartu, Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Geoffrey C. Gunn, Peter Hayes, Wade Huntley, Gerry Van Klinken, Helene Van Klinken, Arnold S. Kohen, Allan Nairn, Sarah Niner, Constâncio Pinto, Geoffrey Robinson, João Mariano Saldanha, Charles Scheiner, Mark Selden, Stephen R. Shalom, and Richard Tanter.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Asian Studies
An excellent book.
Jose Ramos-Horta
For anyone who would hope to understand the struggle of the people of East Timor over the past twenty-five years—or indeed, the past half century—Bitter Flowers, Sweet Flowers is an indispensable collection. It offers essential historical background and vivid eyewitness accounts of the independence ballot and the violence that preceded and followed. The contributors display a refreshing combination of fine scholarship and a deep commitment to justice. It should prove a valuable guide to the difficulties that still lay ahead.
Kerry Kennedy Cuomo
In December 1975, Indonesian troops invaded East Timor and set about savagery of untold proportions. Over the course of the next twenty-four years, the people of East Timor endured bloodshed, torture, starvation, disease, epidemics, and the savagery of an occupying army which brought death to 200,000 people. Perhaps one-third of the population perished, while the best in the world stood idly at the sidelines and the rest sent armaments to the occupiers. Still the Timorese never gave up their dream of a future of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, a dream which eventually turned the tide of history itself and renewed our faith that good ultimately triumphs over evil. Bitter Flowers is an invaluable resource for the lessons of East Timor, the youngest nation in the third millennium and a source of hope to all who value liberty.
Herbert Feith
This is an immensely rewarding volume. It includes ground-breaking historical essays, moving narratives from September 1999, and analytical and interpretive pieces which promise to stand the test of time. Imaginatively edited, it also contains East Timorese poems, paintings, photos, and maps.This is engaged scholarship at its clear-headed best—no easy moralism here.
Asian Affairs - Peter Carey
Bitter Flowers, Sweet Flowers is a fine book. Usefully divided into five sections ('East Timor: Resistance, Repression, and the Road to Independence;' 'Referendum and Independence;' 'East Timor, the United States, and the World Community;' 'East Timor and Indonesia;' and 'The Future of East Timor'), it contains chapters written by experts with long experience of Indonesia and East Timor. The carefully chosen black-and-white photographs by leading international photographers of East Timor such as Ross Bird and Steve Cox bring the suffering and reality of Indonesian-occupied East Timor vividly alive, as do the six poems by contemporary East Timorese writers. The three editors are to be congratulated for the care they have taken with their editorial task. The quality of the contributions is high, the index serviceable, and there are useful maps and glossaries of key Indonesian, Portuguese, and East Timorese terms and acronyms. This book will be read with profit by all those with a serious interest in East Timor and its post-independence future.
Journal Of Asian Studies
An excellent book.
Southeast Asian Studies
The overall effect of Bitter Fowers, Sweet Flowers is worthwhile and thought-provoking. This volume is to be highly recommended as a reader on East Timor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742509672
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/21/2001
  • Series: War and Peace Library Series
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Tanter is professor of social sciences at Kyoto-Seika University. Mark Selden is professor of sociology at Binghamton University. Stephen R. Shalom is professor of political science at William Paterson University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: East Timor, Indonesia, and the World Community
Part I: East Timor: Resistance, Repression and the Road to Independence
Chapter 1: The 500 Year Timorese Funu
Chapter 2: A Long Journey of Resistance: The Origins and Struggle of CNRT
Chapter 3: The Student Movement and the Independence Struggle in East Timor: An Interview
Chapter 4: The Catholic Church and the Independence of East Timor
Part II: Referendum and Independence
Chapter 5: With UNAMET in East Timor—An Historian's Personal View
Chapter 6: The Militia, the Military, and the People of Bobonaro
Chapter 7: Taking the Risk, Paying the Price: East Timorese Vote in Ermera
Chapter 8: Grassroots in the Field—Observing the East Timor Consultation
Part III: East Timor, The United States, and the World Community
Chapter 9: East Timor, the United States, and International Responsibility: "Green Light" for War Crimes
Chapter 10: The East Timor Ordeal: International Law and Its Limits
Chapter 11: United States Support for the Indonesian Military: Congressional Testimony
Chapter 12: East Timor and Asian Security
Part IV: East Timor and Indonesia
Chapter 13: East Timor and the Crisis of the Indonesian Intelligence State
Chapter 14: Big States and Little Independence Movements
Part V: The Future of East Timor
Chapter 15: The Transition of a Small War-Torn Economy into a New Nation: Economic Reconstruction of East Timor
Chapter 16: East Timor Faces the Future
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