|Subject: CONG: House of Rep. Debate on East Timor
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:15:54 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Congressional Record of House of Representatives Debate on East Timor. They are discussing an amendment to State Department Authorization Bill (H.R. 2415) introduced by Rep Douglas Bereuter (R-NE). The amendment passed by voice vote without opposition. Slightly edited]
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).
Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield for a parliamentary inquiry?
Mr. BEREUTER. For purposes of a parliamentary inquiry, I yield to the gentleman from Connecticut.
Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Chairman, I would like to know the appropriate time to claim the time in opposition. I do not plan to oppose this amendment. I would ask unanimous consent at that point to have the time in opposition allotted to this Member.
When is the appropriate time to take that?
The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Without objection, the Member may be recognized to control that time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment concerns the upcoming U.N.-administered plebiscite in which the people of East Timor will choose between autonomy within Indonesia and independence. Formerly a Portuguese colony, East Timor was occupied in 1975 by Indonesia. Since that time, its status has been in dispute. The U.N. and most governments, including the United States, have never recognized the incorporation of East Timor into Indonesia.
Mr. Chairman, the human rights violations created by Indonesian security forces seeking to suppress the independence movement in East Timor have for a long time seriously affected U.S. relations with Indonesia and certainly it has been debated here on the House floor fairly often. Admittedly some of the actions by the Indonesians were reprisals for tragic provocations, but violence from any quarter must be condemned.
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous Nation. It has the largest population of Muslims in the world, and plays a leading role in the important Southeast Asian region. Indonesia is currently embarked on what we certainly hope is a transition to democracy, following the resignation of its longtime ruler Soeharto in May of 1998.
As described in the `findings' portion of the amendment I offered, the Indonesian government has taken important steps toward a solution to the East Timor problem.
Under a United Nations-brokered agreement between Indonesia and Portugal, the East Timorese people will choose between autonomy and independence in a vote tentatively scheduled for August 21 or 22 of this year. Unfortunately, repeated violent incidents in East Timor are threatening the ability of the United Nations to organize the vote in a climate free from intimidation.
Much of the violence has been carried out by armed, pro-Indonesian paramilitary organizations attempting to bully the population into supporting the autonomy option. Since last June, militias have also been targeting U.N. officials and non-government organization representatives seeking to aid the displaced local population.
There continues to be evidence that the militias are operating with the support or at least the acquiescence of the Indonesian forces. Although lesser in scope, pro-independence guerrillas have committed violent acts of their own.
Mr. Chairman, the amendment puts the Congress on record in support of a free and fair vote in East Timor. It also expresses the sense of Congress that the administration should redouble its efforts to prevail upon the Indonesian government to disarm the militias and allow the vote to proceed in a climate free of violence and intimidation. Certainly a peaceful outcome in East Timor is important for its own sake. At the same time, it would remove a long standing irritant in relations between the United States and Indonesia, and Indonesia can be and at times has been a very important ally in proceedings in southeast Asia and elsewhere in that region.
This Member urges, therefore, his colleagues to support this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute.
I want to join in support of this amendment. The outrage and attempted genocide by the Indonesians in East Timor over the last decade and more has been an outrageous act. We had initial optimism. We now see some sliding back. This resolution does the right thing. I hope we pass it unanimously.
Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that our time be controlled by the gentlewoman from Georgia (Ms. McKinney).
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Connecticut?
There was no objection.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Connecticut for his support, and I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman), chairman of the Committee on International Relations.
(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time to me.
Mr. Chairman, I commend the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) for this amendment. The upcoming August vote in East Timor on independence from Indonesia must take place in an atmosphere that is going to be free and fair. U.N. representatives have been intimidated and hundreds of pro-independence civilians have been killed by anti-independence militias armed by the Indonesian military. The Indonesian government should disarm and disband the anti-independence militias, grant full access to East Timor by international human rights organizations and monitors and allow East Timorese living abroad to return home for the August elections.
Accordingly I am pleased to be supportive of the proposal of the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and I urge Members to support this amendment.
Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, on April 5 of this year, 25 men, women, and children were murdered in a church yard in Liquica, a town about 20 miles west of East Timor's capital. Two weeks later, militia members burst into the home of a prominent independence organizer and murdered his son as well as 14 other people. These attacks and others including attacks upon U.N. referendum monitors are being carried out by bands of paramilitary thugs with the backing of Indonesia's military who are intent on preserving Indonesia's illegal military occupation of East Timor.
They have chosen the tactics of terror over the ballot because it is clear that if the August U.N.-sponsored referendum on independence is free and fair, the people will choose freedom and independence. But the outcome of the referendum is very much in doubt. The people of East Timor know very well the brutality of Indonesia. Since Indonesia illegally invaded and occupied East Timor 24 years ago, 200,000 East Timorese have lost their lives to political violence. Those 200,000 deaths lend a haunting credence to the threats of the paramilitary bands.
Today we have an opportunity to send a very different message to the people of East Timor. Today we can join our colleagues in the Senate who voted unanimously last month to support disarming, the militia's release of political prisoners, and a free referendum on independence for the people of East Timor.
I urge all of my colleagues to support the Bereuter amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), a subcommittee chairman of the Committee on International Relations.
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I thank my good friend for yielding this time to me, and I want to commend the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) for his amendment regarding self-determination in East Timor. It does represent a modest, but much needed, congressional statement that deserves the overwhelming support of this body.
Mr. Chairman, for over 20 years international human rights advocates have been calling attention to abuses by the Indonesian government in the occupation of East Timor. Indonesia's armed forces invaded East Timor in 1975 only weeks after East Timor had obtained independence from Portugal. Since then, the Indonesian army has carried out a campaign of what amounts to ethnic cleansing against the Timorese through a program of forced migration. Persecution has been particularly harsh against the Christian majority.
More than 200,000 Timorese out of a total population of 700,000 have been killed directly or by starvation in forced migration from their villages since the Indonesian invasion. The upcoming August vote on the political status of East Timor is of critical importance to the people of that region and represents the first step toward a just and humane solution of their political status.
Of course, to be meaningful, that election must be carried out in a fair and peaceful atmosphere, free of violence and free of intimidation. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, members of the Indonesian military have been arming anti-independence militias which have been responsible for the intimidation and killing of unarmed pro-independence civilians in East Timor.
According to one estimate, more than 58,000 people are now internally displaced as a result of paramilitary violence in East Timor. There has not been any independent investigation of recent atrocities including the atrocity at Liquica, the massacre in which over 50 civilians were killed in and around a church.
Notwithstanding the helpful presence of members of the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor's capital of Dili, the political atmosphere is far from fair and peaceful, especially in rural areas where there is no international presence. Much more must be done and the Congress must send an unequivocal message to the Indonesian military: Stop the violence.
I would like to at this point, Mr. Chairman, enter into a colloquy with my good friend, the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).
In addition to calling on the President and the Secretary of State to intensify their efforts to support self-determination, the original draft of the gentleman's amendment submitted to the Committee on Rules also mentioned the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Treasury and U.S. executive directors to international financial institutions. I understand that those references were withdrawn for reasons of germaneness. However, given the close relationship between the U.S. and Indonesian militaries--I would just point out parenthetically that we have had hearings in my subcommittee on the JCET program in Indonesia. And I have also gone out there and met with them, and I am very, very unhappy with what is going on there in our ollaboration with Kopassus. But because of this relationship and because of the obvious influence wielded by the Treasury Department and international financial institutions in Indonesia, those actors may well have more leverage with Indonesian authorities than the State Department does.
Does the gentleman believe, as I do, that although these officials are no longer mentioned in his amendment, it is just as important that they intensify their own efforts in support of self-determination in East Timor?
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, would the gentleman yield?
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I yield to the gentleman from Nebraska.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I certainly do agree. I would say to the gentleman, as a matter of jurisdiction, that those particular high officials of our government were not mentioned.
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman, and I urge strong support for the Bereuter amendment.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Guam (Mr. Underwood).
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding this time to me, and, Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) for offering this amendment on East Timor. I would also like to take the opportunity to commend the efforts of one of our colleagues who is not here, the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy) for his dedication and work on this issue.
As the closest Member to East Timor and Indonesia, all the activities in East Timor is taken with a very strong sense of interest and concern in Guam. And at a time when the people of East Timor have a window of opportunity to decide the future of their political status, we must do all that we can to ensure that this process is unhindered and reflective of the true desires of the East Timorese.
Although the language in this amendment is not as forceful as some of us would like, I believe it is an important step in demonstrating to the Indonesian government and the East Timorese that the United States, the American people, is committed to ensuring a free and fair vote in East Timor. As the August vote nears, we may see yet a further escalation of the intimidation tactics and violence employed by the anti independence forces.
The passage of this amendment will send a strong message to the Indonesian government that these activities cannot and will not be tolerated and must cease. I am hopeful that the democratic principles will prevail in East Timor and that at the beginning of the 21st century, we will witness the establishment of East Timorese leadership which is in line with the will of the people of East Timor. It is my earnest hope that the August elections will go on without intimidation and that we standnot only for the elections, fair elections, free and fair elections without intimidation but for the principle of self-determination in East Timor and around the world.
Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Chairman I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Weygand).
Mr. WEYGAND. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentlewoman for yielding this time to me as well as I want to thank my colleague on the Committee on Banking and Financial Services the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and also, as mentioned before, my good colleague from the State of Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy). Both of them have done enormous work to bring this resolution to the floor.
I want to thank them particularly. The gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy) has done an awful lot of work not only for the East Timorese, but the Portuguese community throughout our State. He has been not only a hard worker, but a hero on these causes, and unfortunately, due to circumstances he is not able to be here, but I want to congratulate him for bringing this to the floor.
Mr. Chairman, in my first term in Congress, I was visited by Constancio Pinto, who many of my colleagues may know him as a well-known leader in the fight for liberty in East Timor. At the time, Mr. Pinto was studying at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island he came to the Hill to talk about the atrocities in the situation that has occurred in East Timor.
His experiences, he told us about the horrors not only done upon himself but also upon his family and members of his neighborhood and his community. The butchering, the slaughtering, and the kind of intimidation that was going on in East Timor would shock most any person. He was, indeed, arrested and tortured himself in 1991 and into 1992, but he came back to talk about these atrocities and asked for assistance and help.
His meeting with us, he always asked for us to allow for the East Timorese to have the opportunity to vote on independence or autonomy. This resolution does that but goes even a step further. It requires and requests that there be a disarmament of the militia which are the ones that are truly intimidating the East Timorese people. This is an atrocity that cannot occur in a democratic government. We ask them to cease and desist in this effort so that there can be a fair and open vote.
Mr. Chairman, I want to applaud the Member who brought this to the floor, the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) as well as the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy). This is an important vote for democracy and freedom, and I ask all Members to support it.
Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Chairman, I have no more speakers, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich).
Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time to me.
The Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor has claimed over 200,000 lives. One-third of the total population has perished as Indonesia continues to violate international law and act in defiance of the U.N. Security Council. We must not turn our backs.
This amendment makes it the sense of Congress to seek democracy and peace in East Timor. The amendment calls for the disarmament of anti-independence militias, full access for human rights monitors, and the right of Timorese who have lived in exile to return to their homes to vote. The provisions set out in this amendment are necessary if we are to set this region down a road towards peace and justice. This amendment lays the groundwork for ending the human rights atrocities that are committed daily in East Timor. We cannot turn our backs on this region. The time to act is now and the killing must stop, the injustice must end and peace must come to the people of East Timor.
Mr. Chairman, I urge support for the Bereuter amendment. Promote democracy, and let us start down that road to lasting peace and justice.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield the remaining time to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf).
(Mr. WOLF asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) for his leadership on this, and all of the Members. There are so many, their names cannot be mentioned, but for the faithful necessary.
I visited East Timor about 2 years ago, the sites, the scenes, the stories of slaughter and death which apparently is still taking place, even in a greater amount. This resolution will help, and I would hope, and I call on the administration, Assistant Secretary Roth to take a high-level official from our DOD to go to Jakarta and also to go to East Timor to tell the Indonesian military that if the violence continues, there will be no support at all from the United States for their military. The gentleman's language I think sets up a good system whereby we can send that message.
Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and all of the Members, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Hall) and may others for their faithfulness.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment being offered by Representative Doug Bereuter condemning ongoing violence in East Timor.
I visited East Timor in 1997 and found the island to be in a state of siege. The people with whom I spoke were afraid to look me in the eye. I heard stories of young people being dragged away from their homes at night and could sense the massive military presence that had kept the aspirations of the East Timorese in check since 1974. I met with one young man whose ear had been cut by security officials and heard story after story of violence.
This year brought signs of hope when President Habibie announced in January of his intention of allow for a referendum on the status of east Timor. For the first time, the people of East Timor would be able to make their views known in a legitimate process monitored by the United Nations and a secret ballot. This was a very positive step forward and I personally wrote President Habibie commending this action.
But once again, forces of darkness are conspiring to prevent a referendum from taking place. Paramilitaries, widely believed to be armed and financed by the Indonesian military, are roaming the island, threatening leaders who are calling for independence and terrorizing the population. Tens of thousands of East Timorese have been forced to flee their homes and are hiding out in the hills and forests. Many people continue to die. I enclose for the record a recent article from the Washington Post describing this situation. It is terrifying.
The United Nations mission has been attacked. U.N. monitors are restricted to the capital city of Dili and have not been allowed into the countryside where much of the violence is taking place.
Several months ago, Congress heard the testimony of one young man who survived a massacre in the village of Liquica on April 5-6. He spoke of the violence, intimidation, terror and abuse that was taking place at the hands of the pro-integration paramilitary units in Timor. More than 200 people died. He barely survived after being beaten over the head with a concrete block by his attackers. The police and plain clothes members of the Indonesian government stood by and watched this attack take place. I enclose a copy of his testimony for the record.
The Bereuter amendment condemns paramilitary violence in East Timor, urges the immediate disarmament of all paramilitary units and urges that international human rights monitors be given free and open access in order to prevent violence in the weeks leading up to the United Nations sponsored referendum.
This amendment is very, very important. Indonesia must get the message that its relationship with the United States will not be fully restored until a free and fair referendum takes place in East Timor.
For Jakarta, this could be a win/win situation. The recent elections in Indonesia showed tremendous progress and signs of hope. The international community, and the American people, are ready to move forward into a new era of U.S.-Indonesian cooperation.
But, the United States should not fully embrace Indonesia until it does everything possible to comply with the terms of the United Nations agreement set forth earlier this year and cooperate with the United Nations mission in East Timor (UNAMET).
The military leaders in Indonesia must recognize that the people of East Timor have a legitimate right to peacefully make their views known about their political future. The Indonesian military must become a force for peace, rather than violence.
Personally, I strongly oppose the resumption of a cooperative military relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia until there is a free, fair and bloodless referendum in East Timor. Congress has denied Indonesia the right to participate in the International Military Exchange Training Program (IMET) and the Joint Combined Exchange Training Program (JCET) because of its concern about ABRI's role in East Timor. We did this over the objections of the administration. I, and I know many of my colleagues share this view, do not support resuming either of these programs until after the referendum takes place.
This message must be relayed regularly and forcefully by high-ranking administration officials. I enclose for the record a copy of my recent letter to Stanley Roth urging him to visit East Timor before the referendum. I have suggested that he take with him a high-ranking military officer, such as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet Admiral Blair, so that there is no doubt in the mind of the General Wiranto and the rest of the Indonesian military about our intentions. The message must be clear: there will be military cooperation between the U.S. and Indonesia until a free and fair referendum takes place in East Timor.
This amendment is a step in that direction. I support the Bereuter amendment and urge my colleagues to vote in favor of it.
Washington Post article not and other attachments are not included in this posting from the Congressional Record. John]
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Bereuter amendment on East Timor. This tiny country, so long repressed, is facing an historic moment to determine its own future, but only if the Government and military of Indonesia allow for free and fair elections to take place at the end of August. It is critical that Congress express its support for the upcoming plebiscite on independence or autonomy in East Timor, and presses the Indonesian government to remove Indonesian military forces from East Timor, disarm anti-independence paramilitary groups and keep them from interfering with a free and fair vote.
Last week, on Tuesday, July 135, the United Nations Security Council called upon Indonesia to urgently improve security in East Timor where violence threatens to halt the U.N.-sponsored August plebiscite. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has already had to postpone the ballot once from August 8th to August 21st. The start of voter registration was pushed back from Tuesday, July 13th, to Friday, July 16th, because of violence that included militia attacks against United Nations staff and observers.
On Wednesday, July 14th, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs Stanley Roth warned the Indonesian government about the consequences of failing to bring under control the pro-Jakarta militias that have killed scores of civilians and attacked U.N. personnel.
According to the U.S. Catholic Conference Office of International Justice and Peace, the situation in East Timor has sharply deteriorated in recent months, with hundreds killed in paramilitary violence aimed at disrupting the referendum. As emphasized in a June 10, 1999 statement, Archbishop McCarrick, Chairman of the USCC International Policy Committee said: `Thus far this year, the people of East Timor have experienced a level of violence not seen since the 1970s when Indonesian forces invaded and annexed the territory. Rampaging groups of armed militias have committed numerous atrocities upon mostly unarmed, pro-independence communities and individuals * * * On April 6, dozens of people were shot and hacked to death at the Catholic church in Liquica, a massacre Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo of Dili has likened to that at the Santa Cruz Cemetery in 1991 * * * Throughout the territory, armed members of the dozen or so local militias that have sprung up in the months after B.J. Habibie became president of Indonesia a year ago have waged a relentless campaign of intimidation and violence directed at those thought to favor independence.'
Clearly a campaign of violence, of intimidation, of terror is being fostered by the Indonesian military and anti-independence paramilitary groups operating inside of East Timor. Over 40,000 East Timorese have fled their homes and farms, raising again the specter of hunger that devastated much of the island in the late 1970s. While some of the internally displaced persons are in centers assisted by the Catholic Church's CARITAS workers, many are without any help and need the protection and relief that could be provided by the international committee of the Red Cross, if it were allowed to enter in sufficient numbers.
Increased international pressure is urgently needed to address this situation, both to provide relief and an international presence to diminish the attacks and violence by paramilitary groups, which are acting with the support and tolerance of the Indonesian military. United Nations monitors have been attacked and not allowed to travel outside of Dili into the countryside. Unless the violence is brought under control and the militias disbanded, the conditions essential for a fair and free vote will be seriously lacking.
I want to thank the gentleman from Nebraska [Mr. Bereuter] for bringing this amendment to the floor of the House today. I also want to thank Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Richard Pombo who coordinate the Portuguese Issues Caucus for keeping the East Timor situation in the forefront of Congressional advocacy and supporting human rights, democracy and self-determination for suffering people.
The United States government and the Congress must do everything possible to ensure this historic moment is not lost. The East Timorese people have a right to determine their own destiny through a free and fair ballot on autonomy or independence.
I urge my colleagues to support the Bereuter amendment.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
The CHAIRMAN pro tempore (Mr. Barrett of Nebraska). The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).
The amendment was agreed to.