chapter  9
Looking to the Future
Pages 9

Torture victims in Timor-Leste have experienced forms of violence that, for those of us fortunate to live in less repressive states, is unimaginable and incomprehensible. For many victims, fear and brutality have dominated their lives and torture has been just one part of a wider repression; victims have been made vulnerable to a spiral of victimization – for instance, they have watched as their loved ones were killed, their homes have been destroyed, they have continued to endure societal and interpersonal violence, and they have lost opportunities to gain an education or to work. Torture has intertwined with other forms of physical and structural

violence, leaving a wake of problems and injustices. Torture is traumatizing on personal and secondary levels and its physical, psychological and societal legacy continues to impact on individuals, their families, and communities. Most interviewees for this book downplayed their violation, arguing that they were often the ‘lucky ones’, yet they also exposed their anger, sense of powerlessness, continuing fear, and the lack of support for their mental and physical health. These victims do not occupy a ‘safe space’. While they have had little choice but to cope with such sequelae themselves, trauma bubbles away and intensifies with deteriorating social conditions. Against these realities of life, this book has provided a (limited) space for

some victims to speak about the injustices against them. Building on the arguments from Fraser (1997, 2003, 2005), these experiences have been identified under three main tenets. First, that torture victims are often subject to a lack of recognition or to harmful misrecognitions, and subsequently they are placed outside of general concern or protection. Second, that victims are commonly excluded from democratic legal and political processes. These limits on interventions can occur due to lack of capability (such as poverty or limited education or societal disadvantage) or as a consequence of being excluded from claims-making processes. And, third, that victims will regularly have a bundling of rights claims linked to their direct suffering of violence and to their disadvantaged structural location. These injustices may be connected to localized relations of power, but they also reflect wider conditions that cut across national borders.