Companion to East Timor - Napalm


Indonesia had obtained napalm from the Soviet Union. Known as Opalm, it was used in flagrant disregard of the laws of war. According to survivors who testified before East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR):

The army burned the tall grass. The fire would spread quickly, and the whole area would be ablaze as if it had been doused in gasoline. Those of us who were surrounded didn't have time to escape because the flames were so big. Their strategy trapped many people… After we got out, I could still see the old people who had been left behind by their families. They were in a sitting position. The men put on new clothes, hung belak [crescent-shaped metal chest-ornament worn around the neck] on their necks and wore caibauk [crescent-shape crown]. The women had put on gold earrings and gold necklaces, prepared their konde [traditional way of styling hair] and wore black veils as if they were going to mass. We just looked at them but couldn't do anything. The enemy was still after us.1

1Maria da Costa, Testimony to CAVR National Public Hearing on Forced Displacement and Famine Dili, 28-29 July 2003

Below is an extract from Chapter 7.5: Violations of the Laws of War, part of the Final Report of the CAVR.