Green MP Keith Locke has responded to the UN Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report on crimes against humanity in East Timor with a call for the New Zealand government to offer reparations to the Timorese government. I agree that that is the least we can do for our cowardly policy of looking the other way and maintaining low-level military cooperation with the Indonesian regime - but it's not enough. To be true to New Zealand values, we should also be leading the call for justice, and demanding that those responsible be put on trial and punished. And if the Indonesians won't do it - and so far they've shown no intention of holding people to account - we should demand that the UN establish an international tribunal to do it for them, offer to help fund it, and lobby for economic sanctions against Indonesia if they won't cooperate.
This will no doubt annoy the Indonesians - but fear of annoying them is exactly what caused us to look the other way and ignore these atrocities in the first place. That sort of diplomatic cowardice has to stop; we cannot look the other way on torture and genocide. Instead, we must stand up for decency, humanity and international law, and demand that it be punished, regardless of who does it, or to whom. This won't make us any friends - but we will at least be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.