|Subject: US Senators urge UN presence in E Timor
Date: Wed, 06 Jan 1999 10:05:39 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
United States Senate WASHINGTON. 20510
January 4, 1999
Ms. Madeleine K. Albright Secretary of State Department of State 2201 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Albright:
As the new year begins, we ask that you review U.S. policy toward East Timor. Specifically, we ask you to continue to encourage the negotiations being conducted under the auspices of the United Nations and ask that you support the placement of a permanent U.N.-delegation in East Timor.
We applaud your recent written statement in support of the U.N.-led talks and your willingness to encourage Indonesia to implement agreed confidence-building measures, particularly its pledge to reduce the number of troops in East Timor. We also commend your call for the release of individuals Imprisoned for their political beliefs. including Xanana Gusmao. We would welcome additional public statements of this kind.
Last May, when President Suharto resigned after 32 years as President of Indonesia, the U.S. Senate, like the rest of the world, watched in anticipation of fundamental change in Indonesia. In June. the Senate passed a resolution, cosponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators, urging President Clinton to encourage the new leadership of Indonesia to, among other things, institute democratic and economic reforms as well as to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of East Timor.
In his first weeks in office, President Habibie appeared willing to Institute real reform, as demonstrated by Indonesian participation in the UN initiative led by the Secretary General's Personal Representative Jamsheed Marker. The Indonesian and Portuguese Foreign Ministers agreed on several interim steps leading toward a resolution of the East Timor situation. In addition, they anticipated soon reaching an agreement on "wide ranging autonomy" for East Timor.
Despite these important commitments. recent events indicate that very little is changing on the ground in East Timer. There are several reports that the number Of Indonesian troops in East Timor. which is supposed to be reduced, may actually be increasing. In addition, there have been reports of violence in the area of Alas, where a reaction by the Indonesian military to an attack on a military post forced dozens of families to flee their villages and seek refuge in churches. As many as forty civilians are reported to have been killed. although international agencies have been unable to confirm the total number. These events forced Portugal to temporarily suspend the U.N. talks, and although the talks have resumed, confidence in the process was severely shaken.
Negotiations between Indonesia and Portugal Over the future of East Timor are at a delicate stage. The sides seem ready to make a real commitment to resolving a situation which has taken far too many lives over the past twenty years. However, we will not find true peace if the two sides do not trust each other.
Portugal has called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to send a permanent United Nations delegation to East Timor to prevent further civilian casualties. We believe such a permanent presence would inject an honest agent into the process and help to neutralize distrust and accusations on both sides.
We should not squander a real opportunity for peace, and we hope that you would seriously consider this request.
Jack Reed (D-RI)