The International Red Cross is revered for its service to suffering humanity as both the world’s conscience and humanitarian front-line. It is also a keeper of the world’s memory and stores a vast archive of records on man’s inhumanity to man in the subterranean vaults of its headquarters in Geneva.
On 21 May 2013 I was privileged to visit these archives and see what material the ICRC holds on Timor-Leste where it worked during the 1975 civil war, the great famine of 1979-80 and subsequently.
CAVR recommended that organizations such as ICRC make their records available to Timor-Leste so that it can accurately and fully reconstruct its historical memory. Some of the ICRC material is public and accessible. The bulk of it – records related to the missing, family reunions, displaced people and political prisoners – will only be declassified 40 years after the event.
Report of my visit to ICRC, Geneva.