|Subject: CONG: House statements on
resolution congratulating ET
see also press release and text of resolution
(House of Representatives - May 21, 2002)
No. 66--Part II
House of Representatives
COMMEMORATING INDEPENDENCE OF AND EXPRESSING SENSE OF CONGRESS THAT THE PRESIDENT SHOULD ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH EAST TIMOR
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 405) commemorating the independence of East Timor and expressing the sense of Congress that the President should establish diplomatic relations with East Timor , as amended.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H. Con. Res. 405.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?
There was no objection.
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, just let me say at the outset, I want to welcome the Bais Faiga Lakewood school eighth grade students who are here and Mrs. Faigy Uhr, who is the assistant principal, notwithstanding the admonishment from the Speaker, and let them know how welcome they are to be here today.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to extend my congratulations in support of the brave and courageous people of East Timor . Yesterday May 20, 2002, was their independence day. East Timor is now officially the first new nation of the third millennium.
The people of East Timor have every right, Mr. Speaker, to be proud of their newly won independence, because their road to freedom was long and arduous, full of intense suffering and death. It entailed not only 400 years of colonial rule, but also 24 years of brutal military occupation by Indonesia that included massacres, forced sterilization, and attempts at cultural annihilation.
Indonesia's tyrannical rule over East Timor reached its zenith during the 1999 Scorched Earth campaign conducted by the Indonesian-backed militia with ties to the Indonesian military. Women were beaten and raped, families were separated, and nearly three-fourths of the nation's infrastructure was destroyed. According to U.N. estimates, over 500,000 people were displaced.
Against tremendous odds, however, the brave people of East Timor persevered and triumphed. Despite terror, beatings and threats from the Indonesian military, the East Timorese people overwhelmingly chose independence in August of 1999. Ninety-eight percent of the eligible population voted, and almost eight out of ten chose independence.
Under almost 3 years of U.N. guidance, they continually embraced democracy with very high voter turnouts, electing an assembly in August of 2001 and on April 14, their first President, their heroic independence leader, Xanana Gusmao.
Mr. Speaker, when I was chairman of the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, my good friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), and I worked on held hearings on Indonesia and East Timor .
I had the privilege of joining Joseph Reese, the general counsel and staff director of the subcommittee, on a visit with Xanana Gusmao in Cipinang prison. I was struck by his sense of poise. He radiated strength and confidence. I was struck by his determination, and his fervent belief that one day East Timor would be an independent, free state where democracy would flourish. I found that even the warden of that prison in Jakarta had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for this man who is now president.
Mr. Speaker, I introduced this resolution, H. Con. Res. 405, and I am very proud that the distinguished Democratic leader, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), also a cosponsor, along with the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf), the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), and the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy ) and other Members of this body who have joined us in this effort to say, in a bipartisan way, congratulations on a job well done. I especially want to thank Chairman Henry Hyde for both his strong support of this resolution and his indefatigable and tenacious promotion of human rights everywhere.
Mr. Speaker, while our resolution commemorates East Timor's independence, it also addresses the serious challenges this new nation faces. It is not going to be easy. These include development of a stable economy, holding accountable those who carried out crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide during Indonesia's reign of terror, and caring for those many victims who still suffer tremendously from the scars of war and poverty.
Obviously, the United States has an interest, Mr. Speaker, in ensuring that those who carried out war crimes are brought to justice. Crimes committed against the East Timorese have been well documented by the United Nations and other international organizations, yet most of their perpetrators reside in Indonesia with impunity, while the Indonesian government fails to cooperate with the international justice system.
Indonesia refuses, for example, to extradite alleged war criminals, and the jurisdiction of its own ad hoc tribunal is so severely limited that Indonesian human rights advocates seriously doubt whether the most egregious violators of human rights will be brought to justice. H. Con. Res. 405 expresses deep concern over the lack of justice in the region, and calls on the President to use all diplomatic resources necessary to ensure that those responsible for these grave human rights abuses are held accountable.
Similarly, given the well-documented linkages between human rights abuse in East Timor and the Indonesian military, our resolution expresses the need for continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance and training for Indonesia's military in the Foreign Operations Appropriation Act for fiscal year 2003.
Mr. Speaker, the humanitarian needs of the East Timorese people are as great as anyone in the world. U.S. foreign aid dollars can do much to assist East Timor in developing agricultural programs, building solid education, health care, and judicial systems, aiding refugees, and repairing the country's infrastructure. Our resolution expresses our hope that Congress and the President will adamantly support these endeavors.
I would point out that in fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2002, Congress approved approximately $25 million in aid to East Timor . The President's request for 2003 is about $19 million, and my hope is that we can work together with the President in making sure that that which is needed, and it will probably be more than that, the $19 million, will be made available.
Mr. Speaker, several amendments to the original resolution have been submitted today. These amendments commend the President for immediately establishing diplomatic relations with East Timor and include other technical changes made for the sake of clarity.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, let me say that, as Americans, we will forever honor the brave leaders who founded our Nation by fighting valiantly for freedom and democracy, the great ideals we cherish so greatly. They guided a revolution based on these ideals that is continued on through the ages in so many places throughout the world and, in our time, it has been so ably displayed, so nobly, by the East Timorese. The desire to live in freedom cannot be extinguished, and they are again another people who have risen to that challenge to say we will be free.
Again, I want to congratulate the people and also especially President Gusmao on their independence, because they have set another example for those who continue to live under dictatorship to follow.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to commend my good friend and distinguished colleague, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), for introducing this important resolution, as well as my colleagues, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf), the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), and the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy) for their leadership roles in moving it forward.
Mr. Speaker, when the Indonesian military invaded East Timor in 1975, it seemed that the hope of the East Timorese people to live in freedom and with dignity had been extinguished forever. Those who subsequently spent more than 2 decades fighting for East Timor's independence, both in East Timor and internationally, were dismissed as hopeless dreamers. East Timor was gone, the argument went, and the United States Congress, nongovernmental organizations, and others were only causing unnecessary tension in our relationship with Indonesia by continuing to fight for justice.
I might point out, Mr. Speaker, that it was our Congressional Human Rights Caucus which held the first hearing on the outrages against East Timorese and spoke out for independence and freedom and religious freedom in East Timor .
Well, Mr. Speaker, standing up for human rights and democracy in East Timor was the right and moral course of action and, as a result of the bravery of the East Timorese people and concerted international pressure, we stand here today welcoming East Timor as the first new nation of the new millennium.
When the United Nations first entered East Timor in the brutal aftermath of the 1999 independence referendum, they found burned-out buildings, a devastated infrastructure, and hundreds of thousands of refugees who desperately wanted to return home. Many questioned whether the international community and the United Nations were up to the task of nation-building.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the U.N.'s record in East Timor since October 1999 demonstrates the relevance of the United Nations when it is not blinded by mindless hostility to the state of Israel. I want to pay special tribute to our friends in Australia who led the International Security Force that enabled East Timor to be created.
Mr. Speaker, all this was accomplished in slightly over 2 years. The resolution before us today not only welcomes East Timor into the community of nations, but also expresses strong congressional support for the United Nations' peacekeeping forces, which are safeguarding East Timor's security.
Some administration officials recently threatened to hold up the renewal of the enormously successful East Timor peacekeeping mission because of professed concerns regarding the International Criminal Court. I am very pleased that with the passage of this resolution, Congress is standing strongly in support of the U.N. mission which does include U.S. personnel.
There is much work left to be done, Mr. Speaker. The House has already approved the East Timor Transition to Independence Act, legislation I introduced last year, to guide the U.S. political security and economic relationship with East Timor in the coming years. Our bill will ensure that the United States provides the foreign assistance and investment that East Timor so desperately needs, as well as help in establishing adequate armed forces so it can defend its own borders. I hope that our legislation will be signed into law as part of the State Department authorization bill in the very near future.
Mr. Speaker, I strongly believe that East Timor has a bright future. East Timor citizens have a democratic government; they enjoy the rule of law; they have the support of the international community and the strong desire to succeed. I am confident that the United States will have a strong friend in East Timor's people and its government. I strongly support H. Con. Res. 405, and I urge all of my colleagues to do so.
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer), my good friend and distinguished colleague.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy in yielding me this time.
One of the most inspirational moments that I enjoyed as a Member of this body was meeting with now-President Gusmao when he was in prison in Jakarta in Indonesia, having an opportunity to join with some of my congressional colleagues to give, hopefully, in a small way, testimony of support and interest in this struggle of a gentleman who is one of great courage, great dignity, and insight, and to see what has transpired in the course of the last couple of years.
The gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) outlined the focus of the people around the world who have been engaged in this. I was struck by the dozens of people in Oregon, this little State on the West Coast, where there were people that invested personally in this, who traveled, who ministered to the people, who helped with humanitarian efforts, and helped to put the world spotlight on the atrocities that were occurring there; to be able to reflect on the dozens of people who sacrificed their lives simply to vote on behalf of independence.
I am having an Election Day in my State today, Mr. Speaker. Oregon is a State where we send out the ballots to people, they get it in their home, they can vote at their leisure, drop it into mailbox. No risk, no harm. Luckily, maybe we will have 25 percent, 30 percent of the people dealing with issues that are so critical to the future of our community.
In contrast, I think about what happened in East Timor where people literally gave their lives to be able to cast a vote to move that country towards democracy.
I am hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that we will move forward. This resolution today is a symbol of our efforts to be focused on making sure that we finish the job on behalf of the people in East Timor ; that we continue to be a strong friend, a supporter; that we help provide with the rest of the international community some modicum of resources to help them rebuild this shattered country and, last but not least, that this is a signal that we will continue to engage the country of Indonesia.
Sadly, Indonesia at times appears to be defined by basically the concept of whatever the Dutch ruled 50 years ago is an appropriate nation state. Well, there are issues that are going on in Irian Jaya, in Atjeh, that will test whether that vast country is going to be able to adopt a system to deal with those individual differences.
What we have seen in East Timor is that one can make a modest adjustment and not have the whole country spun apart, but it also means that the United States is going to have to continue to be engaged.
It was my privilege to journey to Indonesia with my colleague, the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter), whom I see on the floor, who helped lead this effort, along with the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Kolbe ), and it underscored the need for us to be vigilant for these needs in Southeast Asia, in Indonesia, helping the transition. It is not just East Timor , but it is really the stability of this vast stretch of the world that is a source of problems with terrorism, problems of threats to the environment, and governmental instability, and I hope this is a chapter of how we can do it right.
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde ), chairman of the Committee on International Relations, for his leadership in bringing this resolution to the floor today. Without his personal and strong support, there would not be a resolution.
But that is only the half of it. I have been in Congress now 22 years, Mr. Speaker, and I have known Chairman HYDE all those years. He is a champion of human rights anywhere and everywhere. Including East Timor . He is also a champion in the cause of promoting the sanctity of life wherever and whenever it is threatened.
East Timor , finally, Mr. Speaker, has an extraordinary future. Its leadership has overcome incredible odds, and they
possess an indomitable spirit and an enormous amount of courage. Our prayers and hopes are with President Gusmao and Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Belo and so many others who are now on the cutting edge of ensuring that a beleaguered population which has suffered so much finally enjoys the blessings of liberty and freedom.
Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and ask unanimous consent that he be permitted to control the time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Linder). Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?
There was no objection.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to yield 4 minutes to my good friend and distinguished colleague, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern).
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) for yielding time to me. I also want to thank him for his strong advocacy for human rights, and especially in East Timor .
I also want to acknowledge the leadership of the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith); and I, too, appreciate his long leadership on behalf of the people of East Timor . I want to thank the leadership of this House, including the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde), for helping to move this bill to the floor in such a timely manner.
Mr. Speaker, May 20 was a day of celebration when the people of East Timor joined the international community as a sovereign, independent nation. This bill congratulates and honors the courage of the East Timorese people and calls upon the United States and the international community to provide the necessary resources to help develop this fledgling nation.
As many of my colleagues know, the Bush administration announced yesterday that the United States will open a full embassy in Dili, which is the capital of East Timor . This bill commends the administration for this important act.
In September of 1999, the people of East Timor voted for their independence. I had the great privilege to be in East Timor 10 days before this historic referendum took place. I witnessed the escalating violence and the intimidation against the people and the voters of East Timor .
I traveled to the area bordering West Timor to the communities of Suai and Maliana. In Suai, I met with Father Hilario Madeira and Father Francisco Soares, who were protecting nearly 2,000 people in the compound of their church. These were people hoping to participate in this historic vote for independence.
These people introduced me to their world, one filled with worry and tension and daily violence; yet they were filled with hope and looked forward to voting for their independence. Ten days later, the East Timorese people went to the polls. Over 78 percent voted for independence.
Their courage and commitment to freedom were met with a deliberate and planned campaign of slaughter. Father Hilario and Father Francisco are not with us today to celebrate East Timor's entry into the community of nations. Rampaging militias following the 1999 vote murdered them and most of the others who were seeking refuge in their church.
As we vote today to honor the courage and spirit of the East Timorese people, I want to also remember and honor all of the East Timorese whose lives were lost during the long decades of struggle to make East Timor free. I want to remember and honor these two dedicated priests who died protecting their people.
The subsequent rebuilding of East Timor demonstrates how vital it is that the international community, especially the United States, remain involved and engaged in East Timor . East Timor faces many challenges, including the economic development of the country, establishing an effective judicial system, and securing the safe return of those refugees still held in camps in West Timor .
The international community, along with East Timor , must also find a way to bring to justice those accountable for the campaign of violence leading up to and following the 1999 referendum.
This resolution calls upon the United States and other nations to provide East Timor with the necessary resources and support to successfully meet these challenges.
Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Carlos Belo has called upon the international community to increase the level of development aid to help his country through its first years. I hope that this Congress will respond to Bishop Belo's call and increase our own levels of aid.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, let me also pay tribute to the many human rights activists in the United States and around the world who refused to let the East Timorese struggle fade from our memory. They also deserve our praise on this special day. My prayers and my good wishes are also with President Gusmao and the people of East Timor .
Mr. Speaker, this is a proud time for East Timor , and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to my good friend, the gentleman from Guam (Mr. Underwood).
(Mr. UNDERWOOD asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the gentleman from California, for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Concurrent Resolution 405 commemorating the independence of East Timor .
I would also like to take the opportunity to commend the leadership of the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) for his support of the resolution, and to thank our colleagues, the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy) and the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter), for their unyielding support and leadership in the effort by the East Timorese in their struggle for independence.
Yesterday, May 20, 2002, marked the celebration of the birth of the world's newest democracy and is a triumph of the full exercise of the unalienable right of self-determination. It is also a triumph for the work of the United Nations in seeking the right of self-determination for non-self-governing territories. East Timor , like my home island of Guam, has been on the list of the U.N. list of non-self-governing territories.
As has been already recounted, East Timor had been annexed by Indonesia for nearly 2 decades, until September of 1999. In 1999, the East Timorese exercised their voice for freedom by overwhelmingly voting in favor of independence from Indonesia, despite all the terrible things that the Indonesian Government was doing, officially and unofficially, to dissuade them from that effort.
Today we join in our support for East Timor , which has become the first new country of the millenium and stands as a beacon of democratic values. East Timor had been under U.N. administration since October 1999, during which time international peacekeeping forces, supplemented by the forces of the U.S. Group for East Timor , have worked to stabilize East Timor and provide for its national security.
The international community and the U.S. Congress have been active and vocal in their support for the political freedom of the East Timorese. As the Member who represents the closest U.S. jurisdiction to East Timor , the independence is of special interest to our region.
There is much work to be done. There is the need to help them mature as a democracy. Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to continue their support for the new East Timorese government and urge that the resolution be passed unanimously.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to my good friend and distinguished colleague, the gentleman from Washington (Mr. McDermott).
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in joining to celebrate this event. It is a wonderful event to see people determine what they want to be and have the opportunity to become independent.
But there is a cautionary tale here. There are not very many of us in this House who were here when the Indonesians marched in and took East Timor . And we did not do anything
then. We let that happen because we felt that our relationship with Mr. Sukharno or whomever was such an important thing that we were not going to tell them that we did not approve of what they were doing to the East Timorese.
Only because of human rights activists in this country has that issue been alive at all. They are to be commended. Sometimes they think that they are not heard, they think no one is paying attention, but in fact we have come to the point where in fact Congress actually supported the East Timorese in becoming independent. It happened because grassroots people had a desire to make this wrongness right, or right this wrong, and they did it by talking to their Members of Congress.
We as Americans have to think carefully about what kinds of decisions we make in order to keep a certain leader in place in a certain place, when we have other concerns at the same time about the people who are experiencing that leadership. It is a very difficult task that the United States has, but we cannot overlook what is happening at something like East Timor . We did for almost 20 years, until it got out of control. Then, the Australians took the lead, and we are grateful for that, and we followed.
I think that it is a happy day for everybody who lives in East Timor , but it is not over. They still have a long way to go in developing their economy.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the sponsors of this legislation for bringing it to us here today. We do commend and congratulate East Timor on their independence.
The gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer) reminded me of the time when we met Mr. Gusmao in prison; he was very obviously a very calm, and distinguished man. We knew that, given an opportunity, he could lead his home region of East Timor when it became a nation.
East Timor is not a wealthy country, and that is stating the obvious. They have very few developed resources. The devastation that was brought to the infrastructure of the country means they have an even worse condition. Therefore, the international community, with the United States playing a significant part, does need to assist East Timor in these early days of its nationhood.
Hopefully, the agreement now concluded between Australia and East Timor with respect to potential offshore oil will be a source of revenue that is very important to that country's continued prosperity. We certainly hope that is the case.
In any case, I believe that the independence of East Timor can now lead us to improved relations with Indonesia. The East Timor problem certainly had a negative effect upon our relationship, and understandably so. But I would suggest that we have taken a step in the right direction by supporting independence for East Timor . Certainly we wish them the very best in their independence.
* [Begin Insert]
Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Con. Res. 405, an act which congratulates the people of East Timor on the occasion of their national independence and establishes official U.S. relations with the new country.
We, in the United States, should take proper account of the enormous accomplishment East Timor independence represents, and with great humility, honestly recognize America's role in the suppression of East Timor .
The United States government was not a reliable ally of the Timorese independence cause. Quite the opposite, in fact. The United States government consistently sided against the East Timorese people. Recently declassified documents reveal that Secretary of State Kissinger gave the go ahead to Indonesia's then-President Suharto to invade East Timor in 1975. The United States furnished Indonesia with about 90 percent of its military hardware. Over the course of the next 23 years, Indonesia occupied East Timor , and the United States continued to furnish arms and provide training to Indonesia. In all, more than 200,000 East Timorese were murdered by the Indonesian military during the occupation. The proportional scale of the killing was without rival in the 20th century. One-third of the East Timorese population was murdered. Unfortunately, in the name of anti-communism, then later global stability, the United States abetted mass murder.
Apart from official Washington, the American people have been a reliable friend of the East Timorese. Americans established the East Timor Action Network, participated in Peace Brigades International, dedicated their personal savings through individual foundations and trusts--all with the goal of helping the East Timorese people overcome great odds. Americans gathered in living rooms and lecture halls throughout the country to learn the truths about the oppression of East Timor ; they demonstrated on sidewalks and lobbied their Congress, they met with newspaper editors and other journalists in order to bring out the truth; and a few brave Americans sacrificed their personal safety in East Timor to shed light on the reality of Indonesian government oppression.
Constructive change in U.S. policy came in late 1999, after the East Timorese had voted for independence, and after the Indonesian military invaded again to punish the people for daring to choose independence. Over 2,000 East Timorese were killed, and a large share of the population was forcibly relocated to refugee camps in Indonesia. But the impact of the American people and the confluence of world events finally forced a change in U.S. policy. The effect was dramatic. The U.S. barred Indonesia from further purchases of weapons and training, and immediately the Indonesian Government withdrew from East Timor and permitted international peacekeepers to enter. This demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of withholding U.S. military support from anti-democratic governments that oppress their people.
The United States government has a moral debt to repay the East Timorese people. I consider today's Concurrent Resolution as a very modest down payment on that debt. We should faithfully make the next installations. We should start with generous, unconditional financial grants to the newly independent government of East Timor for healthcare, education, rural reconstruction, refugee resettlement, reconciliation and conflict resolution, environmental protection and the judicial system. The United States should further use its influence with international financial institutions to guarantee Timorese sovereignty and, in a departure from IFI practice, permit the Timorese to design and implement their own economic policies as they see fit. This is the least the United States can do. Let us repay our moral debt to the East Timorese people fully and expeditiously.
Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Con. Res. 405, Commemorating the Independence of East Timor on May 20, 2002. Yesterday's independence of East Timor will make it the first new country of the millennium. I extended my full congratulations to all of the people of East Timor , their new President, Xanana Gusmao, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Carlos Xinenes Belo, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Dili, and Jose Ramos-Horta who have both worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of East Timor . Yesterday was a day which many of us thought would never come in our lifetimes.
Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of one individual--Arnold S. Kohen--who has made a difference in working for peace and justice in East Timor . He is not often recognized but Arnold has worked behind the scenes or over 20 years raising the issue of East Timor within the U.S. Congress and throughout the world. He wrote a book documenting the epic struggles of Bishop Belo. Arnold's work has made a contribution to this historic day and is a model for me on how one individual can truly make a difference in the world. I also want to recognize the hard work and dedication of the East Timor Action Network.
The work in East Timor is not yet finished. (Bishop Belo clearly points this out in the following the Washington Post editorial.) However, yesterday was a day in which we all can rejoice because an oppressed people have now been set free.
* [End Insert]
[From the Washington Post, May 18, 2002]
Freedom Is Not Enough (by Carlos Ximenes Belo)
Mr. BENTSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Con. Res. 405, commemorating the independence of East Timor and expressing the sense of Congress that the President should establish diplomatic relations with East Timor . As the first new nation of the millennium, East Timor now strives to leave behind the effects of an oppressive occupation by the Indonesian military and Indonesian-backed militias.
Today's important resolution honors this very struggle, and calls on the President to begin diplomatic relations and make the U.S. a partner to promote freedom. East Timor , a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975, now celebrates its independence from the brutal Indonesian military and Indonesian-backed militias, and a promise of a better life for all its citizens. As a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, I have been concerned about the situation for East Timor for quite some time. I am pleased to note that this resolution embodies legislation I cosponsored in the 106th Congress, the East Timor Repatriation and Security Act of 2000 (H.R. 4357), which prohibited resumption of U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until the President certified to Congress that the government of Indonesia recognizes the territorial integrity of East Timor . Additionally, this legislation called for the safe return of refugees, and the prosecution of the militias and government supported forces responsible for the violence following a September 1999 United Nations-sponsored referendum where the people voted to relinquish Indonesian rule. H.R. 4357 built on legislation I introduced in September 1999, H.R. 2822, to direct the U.S. representative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to oppose any new monetary assistance to Indonesia including until the President certified that the crisis in East Timor has been resolved.
More importantly, today's resolution recognizes an end to the reign of terror of Indonesia, a regime that employed armed militia violence and slaughter as its method of rule. During years of combat and armed conflict, the Indonesian military and armed militias displaced the East Timorese, prevented their settling in housing camps, murdered U.N. workers, and refused to hold accountable those who caused this widespread harm. Now that this oppressive regime no longer reigns and East Timor begins its independence, I am hopeful that the people of East Timor will prosper as a nation, and can count on the support of the United States in preserving their newfound freedom.
For all these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in support for H. Con. Res. 405, to honor the will and determination of the people of East Timor , and to support their efforts to foster new hope for all East Timor citizens.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to rise in strong support of House Concurrent Resolution 405, which commemorates the independence of East Timor and supports the establishment of diplomatic relations with the newest member state of the international community.
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the good people and leaders of East Timor for their perseverance in overcoming centuries of colonization and decades of occupation by Indonesia to gain independence yesterday. With a tremendous sacrifice of blood and lives, the East Timorese people fought to exercise their right to self-determination, voting overwhelmingly in 1999 for independence. Today, their dream has become reality.
Through the legislation before us, the Congress honors the achievement of the people of East Timor , urges diplomatic relations with the new government, and pledges continued U.S. support and assistance for the nation's economic and political development. The legislation further calls upon Indonesia for the release of East Timorese refugees held captive in West Timor camps and that our nation should maintain appropriate restrictions and prohibitions on engagement with Indonesia's military until accountability for the atrocities committed against the East Timorese people is reached.
Mr. Speaker, while I share in the international community's joyous celebration for the East Timorese people, it is unfortunate that little attention has been paid to the people of West Papua New Guinea, who have similarly struggled in Irian Jaya to throw off the yoke of Indonesian colonialism.
As in East Timor , Indonesia took West Papua New Guinea by force in 1963. In a truly pathetic episode, the United Nations in 1969 sanctioned a fraudulent referendum, where only 1,025 delegates handpicked by Jakarta were permitted to participate in an ``independence'' vote. The rest of the West Papuan people, over 800,000 strong, had absolutely no voice in the undemocratic process. Recently, the U.N. official in charge of the West Papua referendum, United Nations Undersecretary-General Chakravarthy Narasimhan, stated that the process which resulted in a unanimous vote was a ``sham'' and ``whitewash.''
Since Indonesia subjugated West Papau New Guinea, the native Papuan people have suffered under one of the most repressive and unjust systems of colonial occupation in the 20th century. Like in East Timor where 200,000 East Timorese are thought to have died, the Indonesian military has been brutal in Irian Jaya. Reports estimate that between 100,000 to 300,000 West Papuans have died or simply vanished at the hands of the Indonesian military.
While we in Congress celebrate the attainment of independence, peace and justice in East Timor , Mr. Speaker, we should not forget the violent tragedy that continues to play out today in West Papua New Guinea. I would urge my colleagues, our great nation, and the international community to revisit the status of West Papau New Guinea to ensure that justice is also achieved there.
Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the legislation before us and request that it be adopted by our colleagues.
Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Con. Res. 405.
This week, on the other side of our Globe, the world celebrates the creation of a new democracy, the Democratic Republic of East Timor .
I congratulate and honor the people of this island nation for their perseverance and for their triumph of freedom over oppression.
The effort to bring self-determination to East Timor was a dream back in 1994 when I arrived in Congress, but now it is a reality.
Since coming to Congress, I have seen how the East Timorese people, against tremendous odds, resisted military rule despite the killing of one-third of the population in the 1970s and the oppression and massacres of subsequent years.
There have been many of us in Congress dedicated to the plight of the East Timorese largely because of the information we learned over years of meetings and visits with the residents of Timor.
They were willing to risk their lives and futures to share their stories with those of us in the Congress who had the ability to help.
It has been a team effort, and the Members who have been leaders on this issue have been assisted in our efforts by the international support movement led by groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Indonesian Human Rights Network, and of course the East Timor Action Network.
As we move forward, however, we cannot forget the need to continue to show our support for East Timor's sustainable development and a positive future.
The United States should work with the United Nations and its members to make sure that the job of preparing East Timor for self-rule is completed.
Enough proper expertise and funds must be provided to ensure a smooth transition in government services and to train East Timorese to fully manage their own affairs.
After decades of tremendous suffering under military occupation, we need to give generously to East Timor to ensure that children are guaranteed a quality education, adequate healthcare and shelter, and that other needs for a decent standard of living are met.
This is especially crucial in light of the recently released United Nations Development Program Report that classified East Timor as one of the twenty poorest countries in the world and the poorest in Asia.
Life expectancy in the island nation is just 57 years, and nearly half the population lives on less than fifty five American cents per day.
This burgeoning democracy will need our hand as we move into the Twenty First Century.
I look forward to working with my Colleagues in Congress on these issues and these challenges.
But today, we celebrate the perseverance and the spirit of the East Timorese and we celebrate the creation of democracy,
I urge my colleagues to support H. Con. Res. 405.
* [End Insert]
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I urge my colleagues to support the legislation.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 405, as amended.
The question was taken.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of those present have voted in the affirmative.
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.
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