Vol. 5, No. 2
|Militia Attack Humanitarian Team in Liquiça||East Timor Observer Project Needs Grassroots Support
The May 5 United Nations announcement of the August "popular consultation" in East Timor came admist the less encouraging news that the Indonesian military is continuing to arm pro-integration paramilitary groups in East Timor. Since early April, at least 150 people have been killed by these militias, and many more continue to suffer needlessly because paramilitaries prevent food, medicine, and relief supplies from reaching internally displaced refugees. More than 80,000 have been driven from their homes, many into camps where they are subjected to involuntary "pro-integration" indoctrination and more terror.
The International Federation for East Timor (IFET), of which ETAN is a member, is working to support UN efforts to ensure that the East Timorese people are able to decide their political future in an atmosphere free of coercion and terror. The IFET Observer Project (IFET-OP) volunteer team will observe the consultation process (scheduled for late August) in a non-partisan mission which will support East Timor's right to peaceful self-determination.
The people of East Timor are at a crossroads of crisis and opportunity. We in the international community can help ensure that East Timor's future is brighter than its horrific past. IFET-OP is encouraging individuals to join our project, and groups to send representatives. In addition to observing and reporting on the campaign and voting process, IFET-OP observers, as visible representatives of the world community, help deter violent efforts to subvert the process.
Since May, over 50 individuals from the US -- and many more from around the world -- have applied to take part in the IFET-OP delegation. We are now in the process of selecting these applicants and holding training sessions. A number are already in East Timor (see report on p. 5).
Members of the project are observing the registration process, campaigns, balloting (including procedures and conditions at polling sites, conditions en route to and from voting booths, and related matters), and the transportation and tallying of ballots. Some participants will remain in East Timor after the vote to observe that there is no retaliatory violence and that post vote commitments proceed smoothly. The IFET-OP team has begun issuing internationally distributed reports about conditions on the ground, and will release an overall report.
Monitoring of the human rights situation will proceed through personal observation and interviews with religious personnel, public officials, local non-governmental organizations, political activists, and the general population. Our office in Dili will regularly relay information collected to UN officials, journalists, national governments and other appropriate authorities.
IFET-OP takes no position for or against the proposed autonomy plan. Its mission in East Timor is to ensure that the East Timorese people are able to make that decision themselves. In addition to agreeing to follow the U.N.-issued Code of Conduct, all observers associated with the IFET-OP sign a contract by which they agree to be nonviolent, nonpartisan, and to respect IFET-OP decisions. Our observers are neutral; we work with non-aligned groups in East Timor, Indonesian non-governmental organizations, UN personnel, and other observer missions. IFET-OP will be in contact with Indonesian civilian and military officials and both pro-independence and pro-autonomy advocates.
If the vote is delayed past August, we will need additional observers with one or more of the following skills: Indonesian, Tetum, or Portuguese language fluency, election monitoring, human rights monitoring or accompaniment experience, and medical training. Please become part of the emergency support network for US observers taking part in the IFET project. Emergency network members may be asked to contact Congress, the State Department, Indonesian officials and others in response to the needs of the observer teams and events in East Timor. Please call Kristin Sundell at 773- 878-4033 if youcan help.
IFET-OP observers are volunteers who pay their own transportation, food, and lodging costs. Many are hosting house parties or engaging in other grassroots fundraising initiatives. IFET-OP itself is raising substantial funds for an office in Dili and staff to coordinate the project within and outside of East Timor. This is where we need your help. Individuals and organizations can make a real difference by making a financial contribution to the IFET-OP Observer Project to help us cover our extensive costs. And contact your nearest ETAN chapter to see how you can help activists in your area to fundraise for individual participant and overall IFET-OP expenses.
An ETAN/L.A. activist recently wrote, "A few of our friends and colleagues are already in Dili, and begging us for funds to continue their work there. We need $200,000 to run the operation for three months. This is not for individual needs, but for the overall IFET-OP organization. We can't let them down now, not after all the work everyone has done... If everyone on this list can get 10 friends and family members to donate 10 dollars each, plus whatever you can afford to donate, we will have over $4000 to donate to IFET-OP." If everyone receiving this newsletter contributed $10 and got one friend to also contribute $10, the project's expenses would be paid for.
Make checks out to ETAN, with IFET-OP in the lower left memo line. Individuals or agencies who wish to make tax-deductible donations or grants of $100 or more to this project should make checks out to A. J. Muste Memorial Institute; put IFET-OP in the memo line.
Checks should be sent to: International Federation for East Timor Observer Project P.O. Box 1182 White Plains, New York 10602 USA Telephone:1-914-428-7299; fax:1-914-428-7383 Internet:email@example.com
Observer project details and reports can be found at http://www.etan.org/ifet. If you have questions or would like to apply to participate, please contact the U.S. IFET-OP office at the address below.
U.S. IFET-OP Office
Pamela Sexton or Eric Piotrowski 30 West Lake Avenue #D Watsonville, CA 95076 831-728-4190 fax: 831-761-1401 firstname.lastname@example.org (please cc to: email@example.com)