Subject: CONG: Finish the Job in East Timor, Congressman Hall Urges

Also: JP: U.S. congressman endorses humanitarian aid for Indonesia

Congressman Tony P. Hall 
U.S. House of Representatives 
1432 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Finish the Job in East Timor, Congressman Urges

July 7, 2001

JAKARTA— Rep. Tony P. Hall, D-Ohio, today urged the United States and the international community to remain committed to East Timor during its transition to a stable democracy. His comments followed a three-day visit to the tiny nation. Hall began working on East Timor issues more than two decades ago, including nominating Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo for the Nobel Peace Prize, which he won in 1996. Hall's comments follow:

* * * * *

"I have great hope for East Timor's future, a sense that is inspired by its extraordinary leaders ­ Bishop Belo, Jose Ramos-Horta, and Xanana Gusmao. It has been an honor to work with Bishop Belo in particular during his country's long struggle for freedom. Seeing the transformation he and his countrymen are bringing was an inspiration.

"However, much of East Timor's work lies ahead of it and I am concerned that the United States and other nations do not foreclose on its future by prematurely considering the job done. The challenges of rebuilding not just physical but human infrastructure are great, and the fact that East Timor has passed its early tests with flying colors does not mean it can complete this work alone. In fact, it cannot.

"East Timor's people are racing to overcome a colonial legacy that has left 85% of its young children without adequate vaccines and 50% of its adults illiterate. East Timor's justice system must be built from scratch, and the civil servants and other people whose talents are essential to a stable, functioning nation and economy must be trained.

"Beyond that, the physical destruction was senseless and near complete. Seeing American servicemen and women at work rebuilding a school was a source of pride for me, and will be a source of goodwill toward the United States for a generation. But there is so much to do that it is hard to believe East Timor's leaders and its international partners were able to find a place to start ­ much less accomplishing all they have in recent months. Sergio Vieira de Mello and his team have done historic work here, together with UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and countless private, voluntary organizations.

"East Timor is rich in oil and other resources. It will be able to feed its people once it can begin tapping those, and I am confident this country will be a solid ‘citizen' of the international community. That won't happen tomorrow; it won't happen on election day next month; and I fear it might not happen if there is more turmoil in this critical transition period.

"To prevent that, I hope my country will continue our military and humanitarian assistance to East Timor beyond the end of this year ­ ideally through May 2002. I was struck by the strong support among American military personnel for a longer commitment.

"I hope the United Nations will continue its incomparable work in East Timor as well, and consider extending its presence beyond UNTAET's current mandate if the situation warrants that. When I return to Washington, I plan to encourage the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to support a peacekeeping operation with a civilian component because that will help the United Nations finish its work in East Timor.

"It isn't often that the international community has the ability to see a nation's fate sealed for the good of its people, and the region. We have that opportunity in East Timor, and I hope we will seize it by finishing the work begun there."

* * * * *

During his visit to Australia, East Timor and Indonesia, Hall met with President Abdurrahman Wahid and other Indonesian officials; Bishop Belo, Jose Ramos-Horta, Sergio Vieira de Mello and others in East Timor; and representatives of Australia's parliament and military who work on East Timor.

In East Timor, Hall visited humanitarian projects that fight hunger and malnutrition, promote microenterprise, teach computer and other skills, immunize children, care for pregnant and nursing mothers, provide clean water and sanitation, and help fund coffee production ­ a key contribution to East Timor's economy. He also visited two sites of massacres during East Timor's struggle for independence.

In Indonesia, Hall visited two of the World Food Programme's 740 projects in Jakarta slums, which target the malnutrition endemic in these communities. He also attended briefings by UN, US and other agencies about other humanitarian problems Indonesia is facing.

JP: U.S. congressman endorses humanitarian aid for Indonesia

The Jakarta Post

July 8, 2001

U.S. congressman endorses humanitarian aid for RI

JAKARTA (JP): American congressman Tony P. Hall said on Saturday that he fully endorsed U.S. humanitarian programs in Indonesia, in spite of Jakarta's failure to punish the perpetrators of violence in East Timor two years ago. Completing his tour of Indonesia and East Timor, the Democratic representative from Ohio gave a thumbs down to the present Indonesian legal system in delivering fair and good justice, which he described as a main pillar of democracy.

Hall, who has championed the cause of East Timor's independence through the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 20 years, ruled out linking U.S. humanitarian aid programs to Jakarta's ability to try those responsible for the mayhem before and after East Timor became independent in 1999. "When it comes to humanitarian aid, there must be no strings attached," he said during a media conference at the conclusion of his three-day visit to Indonesia.

Hall has long been active in humanitarian and hunger-related work, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, 1999 and 2001.

Hall said that upon returning home, he would recommend Washington continue supporting humanitarian programs in Indonesia through such organizations as the World Vision and the World Food Program (WFP), and various local non-governmental organizations.

"These are very good projects," he said of the humanitarian programs in Indonesia which received U.S. government funding.

Hall visited on Saturday one of the 800 food distribution centers run by the WFP, which are scattered throughout Jakarta's poor districts.

The United States is financing about half of this year's US$68 million budget for the WFP's 800 food distribution centers in Jakarta and another 400 outside the capital.

Hall also met with President Abdurrahman Wahid on Friday, during which he was briefed about Indonesia's struggling transition to democracy.

The congressman said that at the talks he underlined the need for Indonesia to build a fair and good legal system.

When asked if he was confident the present legal system was capable of delivering justice to the perpetrators of violence in East Timor, Hall said: "No. But hopeful, yes. I'm hopeful for the future of East Timor. For Indonesia, I don't know."

Asked about the likelihood of Washington resuming some military aid programs for Indonesia, which were terminated in the wake of the East Timor mayhem, Hall insisted that there first should be a fair legal system in place.

Washington has insisted that those responsible for the violence in East Timor must be punished before these military cooperation programs can be resumed.

Hall said there should be justice in both West Timor, where there are more than 100,000 East Timorese refugees, and in East Timor itself.

He said that based on his talks with leaders in East Timor, he believed that between 30,000 and 40,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor wanted to return home, but most held back largely for fear that they would have no place to go when they returned.

With the United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor, there should be no concern about security, he said. "There is nothing to fear. There's a lot of protection back there."

Hall called on the United States and the international community to continue supporting East Timor after a new administration is set up in Dili following next month's election.

"The challenges of rebuilding not just physical but human infrastructure are great, and the fact that East Timor has passed its early test with flying colors does not mean it can complete this work alone. In fact, it cannot," he said. (emb)

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