||San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 9, 1998
re "Talks on East Timor at Decisive Stage"
Your article on UN talks over the future of East Timor ("Talks on East Timor at
Decisive Stage", Nov. 7, 1998) overlooks several essential details.
The talks between Portugal, the former colonial power, and Indonesia, the current
occupation regime, include no direct East Timorese representation. That such talks could
"provide the foundation for a future constitution of East Timor" is an insult to
the people of that beleagured country.
The Clinton Administration must pressure the Indonesian government to free jailed East
Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao so that he can represent East Timor at these
talks. And after more than two decades of horrific repression, resulting in the death of
over 200,000 East Timorese, the war-ravaged nation is surely (as the U.S. Senate
unanimously voted this past July) entitled to an internationally supervised referendum in
which the East Timorese themselves determine their own political future.
In the interim, the UN should station observers to see that the Indonesian military
(ABRI) actually withdraws troops from the occupied territory. Recently leaked ABRI
documents, whose authenticity has been confirmed by Western diplomats, show that
Indonesian government claims of troop reductions are lies: In fact, there was an increase
of almost 2,000 troops between November 1997 and August 1998. These documents also show
that paramilitary gangs responsible for sowing terror in East Timor are part of the
occupation regime's operational structure, something the Indonesian government has long
The U.S. must act now to end all support for this brutal occupation.
Board Member Global Exchange
Return to Letters index