||Autonomy for East Timor
Letters to the Editor US News & World Report Outlook
November 30, 1998
THE ARTICLE ON EAST TIMOR ["Joy in the Jungle, At Last,"
November 9] did not mention that an Indonesian withdrawal from East Timor and
self-determination there might depend on Washington's pressuring Jakarta. When Indonesia
attacked this former Portuguese colony in 1975 mostly using U.S. weapons it
did so with U.S. approval. Despite atrocities against civilians, the United States
remained Indonesia's main weapons supplier. It is estimated that, by the early 1980s,
200,000 or more East Timorese civilians out of a pre-invasion population of 650,000
had been killed. Public pressure during the 1990s has caused the U.S. government to
restrict weapons transfers to and military training for the Indonesian government. Public
pressure caused the U.S. Senate this past July to unanimously pass a resolution calling on
the president to work actively for an internationally supervised referendum in which the
people of East Timor would choose their own political status, and the House of
Representatives added its support when Congress recently approved the omnibus
appropriations bill. The public should pressure President Clinton and the State Department
to put these fine words into action. ELIOT HOFFMAN East Timor Action Network Forest Hills,
YOU MENTIONED Bishop Carlos Belo and José Ramos-Horta and their Nobel Peace Prize, but
you failed to mention their leadership in having the heavily Roman Catholic population
create turmoil and unrest in the interest of gaining independence from Indonesia. Pope
John Paul II had appealed to Indonesia for help in gaining independence for East Timor so
it could be an independent Roman Catholic country. East Timor and Catholicism go hand in
glove. JAMES M. O'HARA Ocala, Fla.
AS A YOUNG EAST TIMORESE living in the United States, I was so elated to learn that
after years of war, East Timor finally may win autonomy. We cannot ignore the reality that
my fellow East Timorese suffered while their Indonesian occupiers practiced abominable
acts, but we can take lessons from that history to make this world a better place.
CLARANCE EVAN DALE SANTOS Adelanto, Calif.
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