|Congress Bars Use of U.S. Weapons in East Timor
Indonesian Military Training Continues Despite Ban
Constâncio Pinto Joins ETAN Staff
APECT III Meets in Bangkok
ETAN Hosts Activist Training Conferences
José Ramos-Horta Inspires St. Louis Activists
Indonesia - On the verge of change?
Torture and Fear of Torture Actualized
Postcard from Timor
|Massachusetts East Timor Bill Update
In the fall of 1996 Massachusetts State Representative Antonio Cabral and approximately 50 other legislators introduced an East Timor Bill (H.4575) in the Massachusetts State Legislature. The bill states that the Commonwealth will not do business with or invest pension funds of state employees in any company that does business in or with Indonesia. (See Estafeta Spring 1997)
Initially the bill was placed in the Joint Committee on State Administration. The Committee proceeded with hearings in September of 1996 and February of 1997, with testimony from ETANers, East Timorese leaders, and the business community (against). There was also significant opposition from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has been very wary of such initiatives ever since Massachusetts passed similar Burma legislation.
Eventually, the bill was reported favorably by the Committee on State Administration in the Spring of 1997. However, the committee did compromise by exempting larger state contracts from the selective purchasing. Only contracts smaller than $500,000 ($7,000,000 for construction contracts) would currently be regulated by the amended bill.
Since the Spring of 1997 the bill has been in the House Ways and Means Committee, and no significant progress has been made. ETAN/Massachusetts has been in touch with all HW&M Committee members, some of whom are quite supportive. But the chairman of the committee wants to be convinced that there is significant support from throughout the state and from the House Leadership before he reports it from the committee.
NOTE: The huge opposition from big business and the hesitations of the House Leadership to support this legislation suggest that the more channeled legislation written by the ETAN economics committee is very wise. People and legislators need to see quite clearly that East Timor legislation targets companies that reinforce the brutal Indonesian regime. Otherwise, concerns for the extensive American business interests in Indonesia will override any concerns for the suffering in East Timor.
What can you do?
If you are from Massachusetts or know people there, please urge support from:
Please contact ETAN Boston (51 Marathon Street, Arlington, MA 02174/ tel: 781-648-0548/ email: firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like an information packet, including sample letter.