SBS language | SBS Archive: Australian Timorese seek war crimes redress at Tokyo forum

*** First broadcast in 1995.

During celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII in the Pacific, a Timorese couple called on Japan and Australia to shoulder wartime responsibilities following the deaths of tens of thousands of Timorese .

Antonio Maia and Veronica Pereira Silva were in Tokyo for the war crimes compensation forum, where they call on Japan to put more pressure on Indonesia regarding human rights in East Timor.

Australian doctor Andrew MacNaughtan was in Tokyo with the Timorese. In an interview with SBS’s Portuguese-language program, he said Australia first violated East Timor’s neutrality, disembarking troops there in December 1941, which may have sparked the invasion. Japanese two months later, with dramatic results.

Veronica Pereira Maia was 15 when the Japanese arrived in East Timor. She lived with her father, grandparents and five sisters. Veronica now tells us that her uncle was killed by the Japanese when they found out he was hiding three Australians in his home.

“The Japanese would come every day to ask questions about my uncle and then ask him, ‘Where are the Australian soldiers? And my uncle is always hiding, saying “I haven’t”, “I haven’t”, “I haven’t seen any Australian troops”. And later, a week, they took my uncle out of the house, hit him, hit him, for two weeks, with bamboo, which can kill. Later they killed my uncle, it seems after four or seven hours of beating. They killed my uncle, my aunt, my grandmother, my father, the whole family, ”Veronica said.

Veronica also told us the story of a young mother, who had her husband killed by the Japanese and was brought to Veronica’s house, where she was used as a sex slave for three years, while the Japanese were the.

“They abused this lady, with a little child, a baby. She was brought to us. Ann was walking around naked and then it was my grandmother and my aunt, who gave some near the lady. She stayed at home with these men for three years. She stayed in her house. They support her every day, every night, they all use her as a thing, like a slave wife, ”Veronica said.

SBS – Who was this lady?

Speedwell – “The particular Batista… from Facto-Lulik… The lady was from Bobanaro. Now she is still alive in Timor.

SBS – Is she still alive?

Speedwell – Yes, to Bobanaro.

Veronica also told us what she expects from the Japanese and Australians.

“I think the Japanese and the Australians should sit down together to pull the Indonesian forces out of my country.”

Antonio Maia is 74 years old. He was 16 years old and lived in Lacluta when the Japanese arrived in Timor. He now tells us how the Japanese killed his three brothers-in-law, who fled a prison, when they were found by the Japanese.

“They were walking under the trees, looking at the branches with binoculars. They were in the trees, on the branches. They are punishing my brothers-in-law over there. They hang them on the tree, a “Jaca-tree”, they hang them, then they burned “piri-piri”, these leaves, they did something like a torch of fire and when they said that ‘ they could not afford it anymore they said bad words to the Japanese and the Japanese cut the top rope, they fell and they were immediately beaten with bamboo on the head. All three are dead, ”Antonio said.

Antonio also spoke about the Japanese and the Australians.

“Now, indeed, when I came here, I said ‘I don’t like the Japanese.’ Right now at the conference, I said “I don’t like them, I don’t want”. Why? Because the people, yes sir, have no blame. Only the soldiers. The army is something that is… incredible ”.

SBS – And the Australians in Timor?

“Australians, more or less. They were everywhere, around. They killed people, those who were spies whom they killed. They did not spoil people like the Japanese spoiled women in Timor. They ruined everything and more. My land right now has no one giving orders. Only Indonesia is on my land. Casually, I came here to present to the mauber people, what we suffer in Japanese times, it is not only my family, it is everyone in Timor. Even Indonesians. Even Kupang. Even Tambua. Everyone has suffered ”.

Doctor Andrew MacNaughtan returns to the claims of these two Timorese, Antonio Maia and Veronica Pereira Maia.

“The fact that these two people lost a lot of family under the Japanese. Antonio Maia lost 32 members of his family under the Japanese and they both lost a significant number of relatives under the Indonesian invasion. Part of the reason for coming here is not so much to talk about the history of Japan during WWII in Timor. This is very relevant, due to the lingering problem here in East Timor, as the Japanese government is Indonesia’s biggest financial backer. They invest more in Indonesia than in any other country. They give more foreign aid to Indonesia than to any other country. Historically, the Japanese formed the Indonesian militia and they became the Indonesian army. In a sense, the Indonesian Army was born under the Imperial Japanese Army from 1943 to 1945. The Timorese people of Darwin through Antonio Maia and Veronica Pereira are actually trying to make the Japanese people and government aware of the responsibility for world war. II do something to fix the problem in East Timor now.

The Timorese couple and Dr Andrew MacNaughtan left Tokyo this morning for Darwin.

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