|Subject: CONG: House letter to Albright on E Timor
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:38:16 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Congress of the United States Washington, DC 20515
February 26, 1999
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madame Secretary,
We are writing to you today to express our great concern over escalating Indonesian military (ABRI) and ABRI-backed paramilitary violence in East Timor. We are very encouraged by the Indonesian Government's recent, most hopeful announcement of a separate option for independence for East Timor if the East Timorese people reject an Indonesian proffered autonomy plan. However, we fear UN negotiations will be doomed to failure if the current humanitarian crisis is not addressed immediately.
We greatly appreciate the work that you and Assistant Secretary Stanley Roth have been doing to press for the release of political prisoners as well as the withdrawal of troops from East Timor. We highly encourage you to continue these efforts.
However, we can't emphasize enough the gravity of the human rights conditions throughout the countryside in East Timor at a time when a transition to self-determination is finally within sight. Bishop Belo has himself stated last week that things are getting worse on the ground. We follow his moral lead as we renew our call for active U.S. support for the steps necessary to allow this transition to be a peaceful one.
Daily reports from East Timor indicate a serious increase in violent actions by several armed militias including those by the Makihit, Alfa, Saka and Mahidi. In the last two months these groups have reportedly attacked villagers in several areas, recently around Suai, killing civilians, including a pregnant woman and precipitating a refugee crisis with over 5,000 seeking refuge on the grounds of local church and school. Just a few days ago, a young man of 25 Was reportedly shot in the head by an Indonesian military unit backing up paramilitary unit that attacked a neighborhood just outside of Dili. Indonesian Generals have admitted to arming these groups with small weapons. All of this has caused immense turmoil and unrest.
On the eve of your departure for southeast Asia, we take this opportunity to respectfully request your help in pressing the Indonesian government to cooperate with several crucial measures to alleviate this volatile situation and set the groundwork for a just and peaceful settlement of the situation. These are: A) the speedy introduction of permanent UN and other international observers in East Timor, B) an immediate end to the arming of the paramilitary units in East Timor by ABRI C) the initiation of a process to disarm and disband these units, and a genuine, monitored withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor. In addition, we hope that you will take this opportunity to meet with Xanana Gusmao an press the Indonesian government for his unconditional release.
These last months, the State Department has clearly played a vital role in this process by more clearly expressing to Jakarta its support for the rights of the people of East Timor. We thank you very much for your efforts and look forward to hearing the results of your upcoming visit to Jakarta.