Modal close

Hi there,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free daily news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or our in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. You need news that isn't being paid for by campaigns or corporations. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How? This model of news depends on your support. Right now, every new monthly sustaining donation to Democracy Now! will be tripled by a generous supporter. That means if you can give just $4 a month, Democracy Now! gets $12 today.  Pretty amazing right? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, start your monthly contribution today. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


Double Standards at Ground Zero: How the U.S. Responds to Terrorism in New York and East Timor

Media Options


The U.N. Security Council last week formally endorsed East Timor 's plans to declare independence on May 20 of next year, pledging that the United Nations will “remain engaged” in the world's newest nation.

It’s been more than two years since the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence in August 1999after 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation, only to see Indonesian troops burn the country to the ground, killing thousands and displacing virtually the entire population. [And it’s ten years to the day since Indonesian troops massacred hundreds of Timorese in the Santa Cruz cemetery with U.S. weapons, igniting an international solidarity movement to support East Timor’s freedom struggle.]

Just as many now characterize downtown Manhattan as “ground zero,” many described the devastated ruins of East Timor’s capital of Dili in the same manner in September 1999.

But the reaction of the US and it allies to the two ground zeros could not be more different. In the case of NewYork, they vow to hunt down the alleged perpetrators of atrocities and now carpet bomb Afghanistan in the name offighting terrorism.

In the case of East Timor, the US and its allies brush off calls for the international prosecution of the terrorists and instead work to establish warm relations with them, even as they continue to murder and torture elsewhere in Indonesia.

The US response to terrorism in New York and East Timor illustrates that at least for the powerful, not all groundzeros—nor the crimes against humanity that create them—are equal.


  • Matthew Jardine, a writer on human rights issues. He is the author of ??East Timor: Genocide in Paradise and is currently writing a book on the making of “Ground Zero”in East Timor in 1999.

Related Story

Video squareStoryMay 11, 2018If Gina Haspel Is Confirmed at CIA, the U.S. Would Be Giving Other Nations Green Light to Torture
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation
Up arrowTop