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Letters to the Editor
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.

East Timor Action Network
Forest Hills, N.Y.

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.

Adelanto, Calif.

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