|Congress Bars Use of U.S. Weapons in East Timor
Indonesian Military Training Continues Despite Ban
APECT III Meets in Bangkok
|Constâncio Pinto joins ETAN Staff
My name is Constâncio Pinto. I am the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM) representative to the United Nations and the United States. CNRM is the umbrella organization of East Timorese resistance groups. Its leader Xanana Gusmão is currently serving twenty years in prison in Jakarta. Since 1993, the CNRMs diplomatic mission abroad has been headed by José Ramos Horta, the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner.
When I was still leading the civilian underground in East Timor, I helped organize the peaceful demonstration of November 12, 1991 where Indonesian troops massacred over 250 demonstrators in the presence of foreign journalists. Since I escaped a military manhunt by fleeing East Timor and Indonesia in 1992, I have been working with the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and other peace organizations to educate people in the United States about US involvement in the bloody Indonesian invasion and illegal occupation of my country.
As one of the many victims of the war against the East Timorese, after three years in the jungle, many years in the underground, and brutal beatings in jail, I am grateful to see US public opinion regarding East Timor shifting to a better understanding of the nature of the conflict and the role of US foreign policy, never mind the ongoing occupation. With the support of grassroots activists and other peace and justice organizations, ETAN has successfully banned IMET military training, blocked the sale of F-5 and F-16 jet fighters and banned the sale of small weapons to Indonesia.
But there is still much to be done. For 22 years, we East Timorese have striven for one thing - the right to self-determination. This right has not yet been achieved. The United States position on this very basic right is ambivalent: the US Department of State de facto recognises the Indonesian occupation, but acknowledges that no valid act of self-determination has taken place. Through grassroots pressure and with the help of our allies in Congress, we must push the Clinton administration to do everything in its power to see that the East Timorese people are allowed to vote in a UN-sponsored referendum.
From January 1998 to September 1998, I will be working full time for ETAN and with Global Exchange on a speaking tour. My job will be discussing East Timor with members of the US Congress and the United Nations, and continuing to educate the American people about East Timor. I will describe my personal experiences, the direct consequence of an unjust war. I will explain why the East Timorese continue to resist and to seek a just and peaceful settlement to the conflict. I also will work closely with Asia Pacific Center (APC) on other related Asian regional issues.
If you are interested in having me speak in your community, please contact ETAN. And if youd like to read more about my experiences, and the experiences of my people, you can purchase a copy of my memoir, East Timors Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance (co-written with Matthew Jardine) from ETAN for $16.
Constâncio is currently on a national speaking tour, organized by ETAN in cooperation with Global Exchange. He is accompanied on the tour by ETAN National Field Organizer Kristin Sundell. Catch them in your neighborhood!
April 2: St Marys City, MD