My Son Is Dead

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December 1995

The first time I had heard about East Timor and the Indonesian occupation was when came across “The War Against East Timor” by Carmel Budiarjo and Liem Soei Liong in my uncle’s library. I was staying with him after my A’levels and was perhaps “sorting out” his books.  In fact my uncle – Dominic Puthucheary – had a store of books and pamphlets which I had little access to but the shock of reading about the scale of atrocities and the relative silence (Noam Chomsky points this out in his work “Manufacturing Consent”) of East Timor. The work of TAPOL, the organisation working on political prisoners (“tahan politik”) also came into view. While volunteering at SUARAM, the human rights organisation,  I met many people who knew Kamal Bamadhaj personally from their time studying in Australia – Elizabeth Wong, Premesh Chandran, Tian Chua – and others like Kean Wong. Writing this article also led to my friendship with Kamal’s elder sister Nadiah Bamadhaj.

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