etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer Letters to the Editor The New York Times
January 29, 1999

Dear Editor,

Your piece on the apparent shift in Indonesian government policy on East Timor ("Indonesia Says It's Ready to Give Independence to East Timorese") overlooks the current situation on the ground in the illegally-occupied territory. In expressing skepticism over statements made by Habibie regime officials, resistance spokesperson Jose Ramos Horta cited "the reality in East Timor, where people are being slaughtered, where women are still raped, torture is rampant, [and] there are more than 20,000 troops."

A member of the Indonesian government's National Commission on Human Rights confirmed that the Indonesian military is arming militias which have been terrorizing East Timorese civilians. Four civilians have been killed in the past week alone, according to the East Timor Human Rights Center. UN monitors should be immediately sent to East Timor to prevent further atrocities.

Further, it is disingenuous for Foreign Minister Ali Alatas to suggest that the Indonesian parliament, still stacked with Suharto cronies and military officers, may consider granting East Timor independence. This is the same body that voted for the "incorporation" of East Timor, an act which has never been recognized under international law. It is up to the East Timorese people to decide their political future through a UN-supervised referendum.


Ben Terrall
coordinator East Timor Action Network/San Francisco
P.O. Box 420832 S.F., CA


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