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East Timor ACTION Network ALERT

Take local action for justice on anniversary of Santa Cruz massacre

This November, take local action to remember the victims of genocide and demand justice for East Timor!

This November 12 will be the 15th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre in East Timor. This tragic event was a crucial turning point in the East Timor’s struggle for freedom. Western media finally began acknowledging the brutality of Indonesia’s illegal occupation, the international solidarity movement strengthened, and government policies began to change. Here in the U.S., the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network (ETAN) was formed to demand that the U.S. support self-determination and end its support for the Indonesian military.

On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a memorial procession to the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor's capital, that had turned into a peaceful pro-independence demonstration. This massacre, unlike many others committed during Indonesia's 24-year occupation, was witnessed by foreign journalist, including Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! "At least 271 Timorese died that day, in what became known as the Santa Cruz massacre. Indonesian troops went on killing for days. It was not even one of the larger massacres in East Timor, and it wouldn't be the last. It was simply the first to be witnessed by outsiders," wrote Amy in her book, The Exception to the Rulers.

This November 12, we need to continue demanding justice and accountability for human rights crimes committed in East Timor throughout the Indonesian occupation, as well as to the complicity of the United States in the occupation (many of the weapons used were U.S.-supplied, and Indonesia received crucial diplomatic support from the U.S.).

The struggle for independence was long and difficult, but the determination of the East Timorese people ended the occupation and East Timor is now independent. However, the struggle is not over. This November 12, and every future November 12, we can honor the 100,000 East Timorese who lost their lives during the occupation and to remember the on-going need to hold the Indonesian military responsible. We are calling on activists across the U.S. to take action locally, to educate their communities about the sordid history of the U.S. in East Timor.

"I’ve long admired ETAN’s work. For well over a decade, ETAN has conducted some of the most effective grassroots campaigns I know. With limited resources, they helped free a nation and fundamentally changed policy toward one of the U.S.’s closest and most repressive allies, Indonesia."
—Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!

Suggestions for local activities:

  • Have a video showing or a public talk with people who’ve worked for justice in East Timor
  • Hold a vigil or other demonstration at the local Indonesian consulate or at a U.S. federal government building
  • Have a commemoration service at your local church or place of worship
  • Write letters or op-eds to local newspapers
  • Request to have guests on local talk shows, or meet with your local newspaper’s editorial board
  • Display posters and photos of East Timorese history and the Santa Cruz massacre
  • If you are attending an event on or near the Nov. 12 weekend, ask the organizers to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the massacre and the Indonesian occupation. Suggest they read the following before the moment of silence: "We ask for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the November 12 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. Our thoughts are with the East Timorese people's plea for justice for the victims of the U.S.-backed Indonesian military." In the coming weeks we will provide a longer version, in case you need one.

Please let us know what you’re planning! We can help provide materials and additional suggestions for action. We are preparing sample op-eds and letters for folks to use.

-- East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
718-596-7668; www.etan.org; etan@etan.org

Still frame taken from Max Stahl’s video of the Santa Cruz Massacre.  

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