Subject: STimes: Students convince selectmen to support East Timor
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 09:28:05 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

12/22/98 The Standard-Times Students convince selectmen to support people of East Timor By Danielle Duclos, Standard-Times correspondent

DARTMOUTH [Massachusetts] -- Selectmen last night passed a resolution in support of freedom for the people of East Timor. Students at Dartmouth High School have organized the first High School Chapter of the East Timor Action Network. Nearly 20 high school and middle school students met with selectmen last night to urge them to do all they could to help the people of East Timor. The impassioned plea, which lasted about 20 minutes, moved the selectmen to action.

"They're suffering, they're dying and they're being opressed and all they want is a chance to speak," said Selectman Leonard Gonsalves. East Timor has been under Indonesian control since it was granted Independence from Portugal in 1975. There have been several massacres since that time and an estimated 200,000 East Timorise killed. "It is one of the worst cases of genocide since World War II," stressed Dartmouth High student Joe Sousa.

The United States until recently, has been one of the strongest backers of Indonesia, at times training troops and selling them weapons. After eloquent speeches from Mr. Sousa and fellow Dartmouth High student James Madden, a video was shown from an Australian news agency of an East Timorisan protest. The five minute video showed in graphic detail the violence and massacre inflicted on the Timorise by Indonesian soldiers. Haunting and chilling, the video affected the selectmen and audience. "It's a good thing I can blame my tears on my head cold," Selectman Enid Silva said.

In support of the student's effort last night was Congressman James McGovern, D-Worcester, and state Reps. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford, and John Quinn, D-Dartmouth. "I was really inspired by what you had to say and the activism you are demonstrating," Rep. McGovern told to the students. Rep. Cabral urged the passage of the Cabral-Pacheco bill, which calls on the state to divest investments in Indonesia and to halt contracts with Baystate companies which do business in Indonesia. "Our federal government can do more than what they've done and they must do more," Rep. Cabral said.

Because the resolution passed, Dartmouth has now joined Brookline and Cambridge in resolutions supporting the cause of East Timor. They hope other towns will follow suit, increasing pressure on lawmakers to reform current U.S. foreign policy.

"It's such a clear moral issue," Mr. Sousa said. "It shouldn't be difficult from a congressional standpoint to take action on it." Students said they will also be seeking to bring resolutions to other towns in the area, hoping to cause a ground-swell of support among the local Portuguese-American community. Students say they will also push for President Clinton to get involved in the peace negotiations and to grant Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta a public meeting at the White House.

"They can do more by receiving Jose-Ramos Horta into the White House," said Rep. Cabral. "That itself would be a tremendous message to the leaders of Indonesia that we must resolve this issue once and for all,"

Below is the text of the resolution:

Dartmouth Town Resolution

Whereas Indonesia violently invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975, nine days after East Timor declared its independence from Portugal;

Whereas 60,000 East Timorese died in the first weeks of the illegal Indonesian occupation;

Whereas 200,000 people of a population of less than 700,000 (nearly one-third of the population) have died as a result of the Indonesian occupation;

Whereas Indonesia's occupation has been one of arbitrary arrest, rape, torture, and summary execution as documented by Amnesty International and the United States State Department and there have further been reports of forced birth control and forced abortions in East Timor;

Whereas the violent and brutal Indonesian occupation is ongoing as evidenced by the massacre, conducted by the Indonesian military, of an estimated 273 East Timorese protesters on November 12, 1991 in Dili, East Timor and by the reports concerning the village of Alas, East Timor in which it is suspected that dozens of East Timorese were killed by the Indonesian military between November 9 and November 19, 1998 and the village remains sealed off to this day preventing outside contact so as to confirm such abuses perpetuated upon the East Timorese.

Whereas the United Nations has condemned the Indonesian occupation in ten separate resolutions;

Whereas after Indonesia grandly announced a major troop withdrawal from East Timor in June of 1998, thousands of fresh Indonesian troops would arrive in East Timor in August of 1998;

Whereas East Timor's 1996 Nobel Laureates Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta have affirmed the severity and brutality of the ongoing Indonesian occupation;

Whereas the United States has played a negative role, in supporting the Indonesian occupation, militarily, economically, and diplomatically; now therefore be it

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth condemns the brutal human rights abuses perpetrated upon the East Timorese by the Indonesian government and military; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth supports East Timor's right to self-determination and supports an internationally supervised referendum on East Timor's political future, so that the East Timorese may determine their own political future; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth calls upon the United States to rectify its involvement in regards to this injustice by

1. Taking a more active, determined and defined leadership role in supporting East Timor's right to self-determination and basic human rights

2. Demonstrating clear and outspoken support for East Timor from President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Stanley Roth and the State Department

3. Receiving Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta at the White House, so as to support the East Timorese in their struggle for human rights as people and self-determination as a nation; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth calls for a UN monitored troop withdrawal of all Indonesian soldiers from East Timor, and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth requests a permanent UN human rights observer in East Timor; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth demands Indonesia to free Xanana Gusmao and all the other estimated 200 East Timorese political prisoners; and be it further

Resolved; That the town of Dartmouth asks its Congressional Representative, James P. McGovern to cosponsor H.R. 4874 (The International Military Training Transparency and Accountability Act) sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ); and be it further

Resolved; That the town of Dartmouth requests East Timorese, including members of the Maubere Resistance Movement, participation in the UN sponsored tri-partite dialogue between Portugal and Indonesia regarding the political future of East Timor; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth calls upon President William Jefferson Clinton, the State Department, Madeline Albright, Stanley Roth, our United States Senators, the Honorable Edward M. Kennedy and the Honorable John Robert Kerry and our Congressional Representative, the Honorable James P. McGovern to take active leadership roles and strong, determined and steadfast action in advocating and seeking to realize these resolutions; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth encourages and advocates surrounding communities and cities to pass similar resolutions supporting East Timor; and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth supports and advocates that our State Representative John Quinn support any future state legislation condemning the illegal Indonesian occupation of East Timor and supporting East Timor's right to self-determination and basic human rights, including any such legislation sponsored by Rep. Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford); and be it further

Resolved: That the town of Dartmouth advocates that our State Representative John Quinn and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts support the East Timorese and take the leadership steps necessary to ensure that the United States government supports, acts upon and works to realize such said resolutions; and be it further

Resolved: That the Town Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward a copy of this resolution to President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright, Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth, President Habibie of Indonesia, the Embassy to the United States of the Republic of Indonesia and to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and Nobel Laureates Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta.

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