How Many Persons in East Timor Went 'Missing' During the Indonesian Occupation?: Results from Indirect Estimates

Staveteig, S. (2007). How Many Persons in East Timor Went 'Missing' During the Indonesian Occupation?: Results from Indirect Estimates. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-07-003

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Indonesias occupation of East Timor from 1975 to 1999 caused an unknown number of deaths due to violence and starvation. In the first few years alone casualty estimates range from 60,000 (Houk 1978) to over 300,000 (Defert 1992). Recent statistical work done for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) concludes that there were at least 102,800 (+/- 12,000) conflict-related deaths during the period (Silva and Ball 2006). However, this is a conservative estimate. This paper complements the existing estimate by calculating a reasonable high-end estimate, using standard demographic methods of indirect estimation to census data from before, during, and after the Indonesian occupation. My results suggest that a reasonable upper bound on excess deaths during the period is 204,000 (+/-51,000). Since technically these are "missing persons" some could have emigrated, been overlooked by a later census, or, in the case of children, not been born. Great care is taken to ensure that these sources of error are minimized as much as possible. Sensitivity tests were conducted on these results using a variety of different assumptions, yielding estimates as low as 100,000 and as high as 360,000. Previous efforts to indirectly compute the "missing" population in East Timor simply extrapolated earlier-period population growth rates in order to surmise the number of missing persons. The estimates computed here are much more sophisticated: they indicate the age and sex distribution behind these totals, and account for changing migration, fertility, and baseline mortality during the period in order to help isolate the population that went missing due to excess mortality alone.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:40
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:20

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