etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 9, 1998
re "Talks on East Timor at Decisive Stage"

Dear Editor,

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 denied.

The U.S. must act now to end all support for this brutal occupation.

Clare Campbell
Board Member Global Exchange

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