|URGENT ACTION ALERT
October 31-November 8, 1999 TIME IS RUNNING OUT!
East Timor Self-Determination Act (H.R. 2895 and S. 1568) Still Stalled with about 3 Weeks Left to Pass Them
Humanitarian Crisis Continues in East and West Timor
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATORS NOW!
Only a few weeks remain to ensure the passage of H.R. 2895 and S. 1568, the House and Senate versions of the East Timor Self-Determination Act of 1999 (HR 2895 and S. 1568). Congress adjourns for the year in less than one month. Grassroots pressure is urgently needed to pass these bills which lock in current suspension of military ties and financial assistance to Indonesia until specific conditions are met, including the cessation of all Indonesian military and militia violence, open access for humanitarian organizations, and the safe return of all refugees.
S 1568 was passed by the Foreign Relations Committee but is being blocked from a floor vote by just a few senators. HR 2895 has yet to move out of the International Relations Committee. Your senators and representatives need to hear your voices! and the voices of your friends and fellow activists to get these bills moving to a vote.
The U.S. must adequately fund emergency relief and reconstruction efforts and the newly-established UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). While the U.S. has provided about $20 million to the relief effort so far, UNTAET will need about $1 billion for the coming year alone. This will pay for health care, education, and the establishment of government and security structures. More immediately, this money is needed to provide shelter, water and sanitation systems, and everyday medical care to prevent further outbreaks of disease and more deaths. Your Senators and Representative should communicate this funding need directly to administration officials. There is no time to waste!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
East Timor is now on the road to becoming the newest country, as Indonesia formally rescinded its illegal "claim" to East Timor. Xanana Gusmao returned to his homeland last week and Jose Ramos Horta will soon follow. The newly named UNTAET has begun to assume authority from INTERFET (the multinational force) and UNAMET (the UN group which organized the Aug. 30 vote) under the leadership of Sergio Viera de Mello from Brazil.
The situation on the ground, however, is horrendous, particularly now that the rainy season has begun. Approximately 250,000 refugees are still in West Timor and other parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Many remain under militia control, while humanitarian access is restricted to about 50,000 people. Only 20,000 East Timorese have been repatriated, mostly by air and sea. Indonesian military-backed militia intimidation continues to severely limit the return of refugees on foot. Militias control most camps in West Timor, where acts of violence continue daily, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. In Oecussi, the East Timor enclave surrounded by West Timor, militias massacred at least 50 people just last week.
For more information, contact Karen Orenstein at 202-544-6911, and check the ETAN website at www.etan.org. Please let us know what response you get and thanks for your support.
Perhaps one third of East Timor's residents have been driven from their homes, with tens of thousands facing death from starvation and disease.