Subject: CONG: Frank Wolf (R-VA) on E Timor Independence

INDEPENDENCE OF EAST TIMOR -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2002)



* Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Con. Res. 405, legislation commemorating the independence of East Timor and expressing the sense of Congress that the President should establish diplomatic relations with East Timor.

* Independence for East Timor has been a long time coming. It was ruled by the Portugese for 400 years and then more recently experienced 25 years of Indonesian occupation.

* Unfortunately, many East Timorese suffered during the path to independence, particularly when Indonesian military backed militias went on a murderous rampage in 1999, after the people of East Timor voted for independence.

* Thousands of innocent East Timorese were killed and hundreds of thousands became refugees because of the violence carried out against the East Timorese who were only seeking freedom.

* Fortunately, the East Timorese have benefitted from having solid leaders. I met many of these people when I visited East Timor in 1997--people such as Roman Catholic Bishop Belo, bishop of Dili.

* Bishop Belo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his invaluable work on behalf of peace and justice in East Timor. Representative TONY HALL and I nominated Bishop Belo for this award of which he so deservingly was presented several years ago.

* I met with many other outstanding East Timorese volunteers, local leaders, NGO staff and religious leaders who also helped forge the way for a peaceful movement of independence. All are to be commended for their contributions that have led to East Timor's independence.

* Recently elected President Jose Alexandre Gusmao also appears to be a leader who will serve his new country well.

* He is emphasizing reconciliation rather than revenge for the sufferings and atrocities the people suffered at the hands of the pro-Indonesian militias in 1999.

* I am hopeful that the new country of East Timor will be a reliable and worthy addition to the international community.

* I want to congratulate the people of East Timor, President Gusmao, Bishop Belo, Jose Ramos Horta, and the many other East Timorese who brought their people and their nation to this historic point.

* I also want to commend President Bush for his action yesterday recognizing East Timor as a nation and establishing diplomatic relations.

* Lastly, I want to thank Representative SMITH for sponsoring this important legislation and for all of his work in this Congress not only on East Timor, but for human rights and religious freedom.

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