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The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) and the Institute of Postcolonial Studies (IPCS) are running a series of seminars on international experiences of truth-telling with particular relevance to the unfolding conversation in Australia following the release of the Uluru Statement calling for Voice, Treaty and Truth in 2017. 

The seminars are intended to foster a critically important conversation about the possibilities and challenges of truth-telling by drawing on the experience and processes in other global contexts. The series will focus particularly on truth processes that have impacted on Indigenous communities in order to share knowledge that may help inform an Australian truth-telling process. 

Thus far, globally, truth-telling has often been linked to discourses of recognition and reconciliation within a multicultural project. While recognition and reconciliation remain important, our series explores what truth-telling with an explicitly decolonial focus may look like. It will ask specifically how truth telling can restore sovereignty and ensure reparations in a practical sense – what initiatives are necessary for this to happen?


The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR: Comissao de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliacao de Timor Leste) was initially established in 2001 under the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to investigate human rights abuses that occurred between April 1974 and October 1999 after the occupation of the country by the Indonesian military. This was the first such commission in Asia.

CAVR was housed in the Comarca, a former Portuguese and Indonesian prison, which today houses the Centro Nacional Chega!, the CAVR archive, and a museum open to the public. 

During its work, over 10,000 statements were taken from victims and perpetrators, and public hearings were held which were broadcast on television and radio. The Commission delivered its 2,500-page report titled Chega! meaning “stop” or “enough” in Portuguese, covering human rights violations from 1974 to 1999, to the President of East Timor on 31 October 2005. The President then handed the report to the Secretary General of the UN as required by law, on 20 January 2006.

Chega! found that East Timor had suffered massive human rights violations, including violations of the right to self-determination, killings and disappearances, forced displacement and famine, detention and torture, violations of the laws of war, political trials, sexual violence, violations of the rights of the child, and violations of economic and social rights. It determined that the death toll during Indonesian rule had been between at least 102,800 and may have been as high as 183,000. It also concluded that the majority of deaths had been the result of actions by the Indonesian army, and that violence in 1999 was the result of a “systematic campaign orchestrated at the highest levels of the Indonesian government.” The findings of Chega were affirmed in 2008 by the Indonesia–Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship subsequently established by the governments of Indonesia and East Timor in August 2005.

See the original event details.

See the related 2020 recordings, part of the same ‘Decolonising truth’ series.

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Recorded: 27 October 2021


Hugo Fernandes
Pat Walsh
Galuh Wandita
Lia Kent


conflict decolonising truth recording Timor-Leste videos


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