Complicity: Human Rights and Canadian Foreign Policy-the Case of East Timor


249 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55164-044-9
DDC 382'.971073





Photos by Elaine Brire
Reviewed by Penny E. Bryden

Penny E. Bryden is an assistant professor of history at Mount Allison


Thorough and carefully researched, Complicity presents one of the first
examinations of Canada’s culpability in the continuation of
Indonesia’s gross violations of human rights in neighboring East

The author, who is national coordinator of the East Timor Alert Network
and head of the International Secretariat for Parliamentarians for East
Timor, begins with an evaluation of the various frameworks for
understanding the connections between foreign policy and human rights,
including the effects of direct aid and trade relationships on the
ability of one nation to exert pressure on another to respect human
rights. Scharfe argues that Canada’s economic ties with Indonesia
since it invaded East Timor, far from eliminating the practice of
genocide, have served only to bolster the elite of the invading
Indonesian regime. She meticulously documents the violations against
East Timor—the surprise invasion in 1975, the systematic slaughtering
of Chinese inhabitants and suspected opponents of Indonesian control,
and the recent trial and life sentence of Xanana Gusmгo, the
“undisputed leader of East Timor.” In the international context,
Scharfe sees Canada as particularly guilty in terms of its consistent
refusal to allow human-rights violations to interfere with bilateral
trade relations.

This book is an important wake-up call.


Scharfe, Sharon., “Complicity: Human Rights and Canadian Foreign Policy-the Case of East Timor,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 27, 2024,