"Missing" Persons in East Timor during the Indonesian Occupation, 1975 - 1999

Sarah E. Staveteig, University of California, Berkeley

Indonesia's occupation of East Timor from 1975 to 1999 is thought to have caused anywhere from 50,000 to 300,000 deaths due to violence and starvation. The uncertainty of these estimates, as well as the lack of documentation on their derivation indicate a need for more extensive research. This paper applies standard demographic methods of indirect estimation to census data from before, during, and after the Indonesian occupation to obtain a systematic estimate of the number of "missing" persons in East Timor during the 24-year period. My findings show a substantial number of missing persons after the first five years of Indonesian occupation, and a smaller amount during each of the subsequent decades. These missing persons did not necessarily die — they could have emigrated, been overlooked by a later census, or, in the case of children, not been born. Great care is taken to minimize these sources of error.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology