ACTION ALERT AND LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
East Timor's August vote on its political status for either autonomy within Indonesia or independence is approaching quickly. Voter registration has already begun. With your support, Congress has increased the pressure on Indonesia to permit a free and fair vote, but more must happen before the East Timorese can cast their ballots freely.
Within the last few weeks, the Senate has passed two amendments (in the State Department Authorization and Foreign Operations Appropriations bills) based on S.Res. 96, supporting intensified U.S. action toward Indonesia to ensure a free and fair vote in East Timor. The House just voted on its own amendment to the State Department Authorization bill.
We need your help to keep up the pressure. The U.S. government must do nothing short of suspending further military and financial aid (both direct and through international financial institutions) to Indonesia until the paramilitary violence in East Timor is stopped.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Call the Congressional Switchboard: 202-224-3121 Ask for your Representative's office and then ask for the foreign policy aide. For a current list of congressional e-mail addresses, office and fax numbers, try http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ or http://www.congress.org
* H.R. 1063 closes loopholes and bans all remaining U.S. military training to Indonesia. So far, it has 84 bipartisan co-sponsors. See ETAN's web site http://www.etan.org/action/urgntMnu.htm for the text of the bill and a list of current co-sponsors. If your representative has not yet signed on, please call! If this binding bill is to come to a vote this year, we need many more co-sponsors, especially Republicans. This a priority!
* Rep. Bill Luther (D-MN) recently introduced a resolution (H.Res. 251) condemning recent paramilitary attacks on the UN mission. Urge your Representative to become a co-sponsor. This resolution could move to a vote very quickly.
* Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH) is currently seeking co-signers on a letter to President Clinton calling for increased U.S. pressure on Jakarta. Staffers should contact Bob Zachritz or Brendan Inscho in Tony Hall's office to sign on. This letter will only be circulating until the end of July.
CONGRESS (House and Senate) Congressional delegations are being organized in both House and Senate. Interested offices should call Patrick Kennedy's (D-RI) office in the House and ETAN's Washington office for more information for the Senate. Plans for these trips are progressing quickly, so offices will need to act quickly.
Contact: U.S. State Department, Indonesia Desk: 202-647-2543 * Urge the State Department to make the clearest possible statement that future U.S. (and international) financial aid and military cooperation is in jeopardy if the UN vote is not allowed to happen in a free and fair manner.
Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth recently visited East Timor and Indonesia. While there, he warned that if Indonesia couldn't rein in the paramilitaries, its relations with the U.S. would suffer. While his statements were sound, they should have been much more forceful and precise.
BACKGROUND Indonesian-backed paramilitary groups continue to terrorize East Timor. Their actions have resulted in dozens of deaths in the past few months and over 58,000 internal refugees, according to the humanitarian organization Caritas. Recent paramilitary threats and attacks on UN offices and personnel have further jeopardized the UN-organized vote, and the UN is constantly re-evaluating the situation. It has already delayed the ballot once to August 21 or 22.
The United States has tremendous influence on Indonesia. The Clinton administration and Congress must do more to pressure Jakarta to live up to the promises it made when it signed the May 5 UN-sponsored agreement setting up the vote, specifically to ensure security by stopping and disarming the paramilitary violence and ensuring conditions necessary for a vote free from terror and intimidation.
The Senate unanimously passed amendments to both the State Department Authorization bill and the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (by a vote of 98-0). The amendments call on the Clinton administration to take increasingly strong action to ensure the disbanding of paramilitaries, as well as other conditions necessary for a free and fair vote. Similar language --based on the Senate amendments and H.Con.Res. 97 -- was included as an amendment in the House version of the State Department Authorization.
Thank you for your continued activism!
If you have questions, check our web site http://www.etan.org/action/urgntMnu.htm or contact:
East Timor Action Network Washington Office 110 Maryland Avenue NE #30 Washington, DC 20002 202-544-6911; 202-546-5103 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org