etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer News From: U.S. Senator Russ Feingold 716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510-4904 (202) 224-5323

CONTACT: Mary Bottari 202-224-8657


WASHINGTON D.C. -- The Senate today unanimously passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, which encourages a political solution to the status of East Timor. The Feingold resolution, S. Res. 237, calls on the Indonesian government to enact political reforms and protect human rights. It also urges the United States to work actively to support self-determination for the East Timorese.

"For over two decades, the people of East Timor have been subjected to Indonesian occupation, with the loss of thousands of lives, the continuous suppression of free speech and countless incidents of torture and brutality," said Feingold. "The recent events in Indonesia represent a historic opportunity for progress on the status of East Timor."

The Feingold resolution, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), calls on President Clinton to encourage the new political leadership in Indonesia to institute genuine democratic and economic reforms including the establishment of an independent judiciary, civilian control of the military, and the release of political prisoners. It also urges Clinton to support an internationally supervised referendum on self-determination.

"The United States must press for a free and fair referendum under the auspices of the United Nations to allow the Timorese to determine their own fate and their relationship to Indonesia," said Feingold.

Recent political turmoil and economic failure in Indonesia led to the resignation, after 32 years in office, of long time Indonesian ruler Suharto. Indonesia's new leader, B.J. Habibie, recently signaled a willingness to reconsider the status of East Timor. Indonesia invaded and began occupation of East Timor in 1975. That same year and in 1976, the United Nations Security Council called for Indonesia to withdraw from East Timor, and for the recognition of East Timorese self-determination. An estimated 200,000 people, or one-third of the population of the tiny territory. have been killed during the occupation.