No F16's for Indonesia
Tensions Escalate in
ETAN Calls for
Victory for East Timor
Sanitized by the Nobel
Isabel Galhos Tours the United
Massachusetts Closer to Indonesia
New Resources from ETAN
ETAN's New Field Organizer
Support East Timor in Your Community
|Academic "Roadshow" Raises Awareness
By John M. Miller, Media and Outreach Coordinator.
Educational efforts in North America
on East Timor and Indonesia received a major boost earlier this year with a series of
academic conferences and other events organized by the Foundation of Portuguese
Universities with support from ETAN.
In late February and early March, a two-week traveling "roadshow" of academic
experts and activists from Europe, the United States, Indonesia and East Timor spoke on
campuses in over a dozen cities. Participants provided a global perspective usually
unavailable in the United States. Nobel Laureate José
Ramos-Horta was the keynote speaker at a number of events.
The Indonesian government felt so threatened by the conference series that they sent
embassy and consulate officials or their relatives to most of its events; some came from
as far away as London or Jakarta to pepper participants with questions. At times, the
repetition of the same questions and allegations bordered on harassment. In most places
this Indonesian effort backfired, with audience members seeing through the effort to
disrupt discussion rather than add to it.
The tour opened with a conference at Columbia University. In an event unique in the United
States, seven East Timorese openly discussed options for the future of their troubled
land. Participating in the discussion were Constâncio Pinto, João Saldanha (a graduate
student at Harvard), Mari Alkatiri of Fretilin, João Carrascalão of UDT, and Bella
Galhos. The Rev. Arlindo Marçal of the Protestant Church of East Timor and Armindo Maia,
acting rector of the University of East Timor, also participated in the discussion and
tour at some risk to themselves, offering their perspectives from inside the territory.
In Washington, Maia and Marçal offered moving testimony before the Congressional Human
Rights Caucus. Also participating in the hearing were Ramos-Horta and Dr. George
Aditjondro, the Indonesian social scientist who chose exile in Australia rather than face
stacked charges in an Indonesian court. Aditjondro also briefed the media and a number of
key Congressional committee staffers on the involvement of key figures in the
"Indogate" campaign finance scandal with the Suharto regime and East Timor.
Prof. Maia and Rev. Marçal ended their U.S. trip early to return home to Dili, fearing
repression. They received threats and harassment upon their return. A few weeks later,
Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck visited them in Dili and urged
the Indonesian government to protect their safety. Nevertheless, Maia's position at the
university is being challenged, and he was physically attacked at his home on June 3 by a
mob of pro-integration students.
Timorese participants in the tour (but not those still living in East Timor) testified
before the Massachusetts state legislature.
Tour related events also took place in Cambridge; Camden, NJ; the Boston area; Baltimore;
Cincinnati; San Francisco Bay area; Providence; New Haven and Fairfield, CT; and
Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Also participating in the tour were Lojang Soenario, (founder, Watch Indonesia, Germany),
Bishop Hilton Deakin (Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne; Chair, East Timor Human Rights
Center, Melbourne), Jakarta-based Dr. Kastorius Sinaga (Director, Pact/Indonesia NGO
Partnership Initiative), and Pedro Pinto Leite (Secretary-General of the International
Platform of Jurists on East Timor). Professor Antonio Barbedo de Magalhães of Oporto
University was the main Portuguese organizer of the tour, which was joined by several
other Portuguese academics.
This was the first U.S. undertaking of a series of conferences and seminars begun in
Portugal and now spreading worldwide. If you are connected with an academic institution
which would like to participate, contact ETAN and we can put you in touch with the