|Subject: 54 U.S. NGOs Demand More from President
110 Maryland Ave., NE, Box 30 Washington, DC 20002
August 26, 1999
President Bill Clinton
Dear President Clinton,
As representatives of human rights, peace and justice, and religious organizations, we ask that you and your administration utilize the historic opportunity to stop Indonesian-backed paramilitary violence still threatening a free and fair vote in East Timor. Together we stand poised on the eve of a referendum for which the people of East Timor have labored through 24 years of brutal and illegal Indonesian occupation. This referendum could represent a tremendous victory for both democracy and human rights-if the vote and the subsequent transition period can proceed under peaceful conditions. To this day, those conditions have not yet been secured.
We commend your administration for the increasingly strong public statements of Secretary of State Albright and Assistant Secretary Roth. We commend your position at the recent Consultative Group on Indonesia meeting in Paris, linking future aid to Indonesia to a free and fair vote in East Timor. But there is still more you must do to ensure that the people of East Timor can vote on August 30 in an atmosphere free from intimidation and terror. It is also critical that you closely monitor the period immediately following the vote, prior to Indonesia's ratification of the results in the fall. The potential for retaliatory paramilitary and Indonesian military violence is extremely troubling, and its prevention will require the serious vigilance of the international community.
As you know, Indonesian armed forces remain responsible for overall security around the vote. We protest this situation. While Indonesian police repeatedly condone attackers, Indonesian military units actively arm, train and direct them, particularly along the West Timor border, where huge stockpiles of weapons have been reported. As Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Carlos Belo recently said: "They [the Indonesian military] are openly and clearly distributing guns.... They are turning Timorese against Timorese." Since the beginning of this year, paramilitaries have killed hundreds in East Timor and caused a refugee crisis of over 50,000. Several of our organizations currently have observers placed in East Timor who can verify paramilitary terror and intimidation firsthand.
We encourage you to strictly hold Indonesia to all of its obligations under the May 5 UN agreement. All paramilitary units should be contained and disarmed immediately. Indonesian military units should be returned to barracks, and a genuine and monitored withdrawal of troops should begin immediately. Nothing short of these measures will ensure post-vote violence can be avoided.
We wholeheartedly request further U.S. support for the UN mission, including a serious increase in numbers of personnel. We also ask that you utilize your influence in Jakarta to open access to East Timor to all human rights, humanitarian aid, and international press personnel. We particularly note the case of Dr. Daniel Murphy of Iowa, who has recently been blacklisted by Indonesia after spending over nine months providing medical care to victims of both disease and paramilitary attacks. Moreover, we urge you to hold the Indonesian government responsible for honoring recent official promises to release all political prisoners after the conclusion of the voting process, though we believe their release should have been accomplished much earlier.
As you know, the U.S. has a long history in relation to East Timor. Since 1992, congressional and administration actions have brought us much closer to a just foreign policy concerned with human rights. It is our opinion, Mr. President, that you could take several additional actions in the days before August 30 to demand Indonesia stop the violence and allow a valid act of self-determination to take place.
First, we ask that you make a public statement to the Indonesian government prior to the vote, strongly conveying U.S. expectations on East Timor.
Second, we ask you to utilize every available channel to remind Indonesia that future U.S. military and financial assistance is contingent not only on a peaceful vote, but a peaceful transition in East Timor.
Mr. President, we realize this letter reaches you at the 11th hour. However, we also recall your wish to rectify the long-standing injustice done to the people of East Timor. We know that U.S. political intervention can still stop plans for future violence from becoming reality for the long-suffering people of East Timor. It can help bring about genuine self-determination.
We look forward to hearing your response, both public and private. We thank you very much for your serious consideration of our concerns.
Mike Amitay Director Washington Kurdish Institute
Rebecca C. Asedillo United Methodist Deaconess Peace with Justice Communicator, Maryland
Bama Athreya Director of Asia Programs International Labor Rights Fund
Mubarak Awad Chair of the Board Nonviolence International
Mojgone Azemun Chair of the Board Students for a Free Tibet
Jeff Ballinger Press for Change
Medea Benjamin Co-Director Global Exchange
Carolyn Bninski Staff Person for International Issues Rocky Mountain Peace Center
Eric Brakken Organizer United Students for Sweatshops
Holly Burkhalter Advocacy Director Physicians for Human Rights
Gordon S. Clark Executive Director Peace Action
Marie Clark Co-Director Quest for Peace/ Quixote Center
Rev. Douglas P. Cunningham Pastor, St. Luke's United Methodist Church of Woodlawn, Maryland
Ruth A. Daugherty United Methodist Women, Pennsylvania
Peter J. Davies U.S. Representative Saferworld
John Dear, SJ Executive Director Fellowship of Reconciliation
Robert Doolittle Youth Director St. Paul's Parish, Cambridge, MA
Dr. Maria S. Floro Associate Professor American University
Lynn Fredriksson Washington Representative East Timor Action Network
William D. Hartung President Fellow World Policy Institute at the New School
Pharis Harvey Executive Director International Labor Rights Fund
Ronald L. Hines Pastor Puyallup United Methodist Church, Washington
John Hocevar Executive Director Students for a Free Tibet
Martha Honey Director, Peace and Security Program Institute for Policy Studies
Kathryn Johnson Executive Director Methodist Federation for Social Action
Peter H. Juviler Co-Director, Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights
Shulamith Koenig Executive Director People's Decade of Human Rights Education Lee Vander Lann Executive Director Veterans for Peace
Malik Miah Indonesia Alert!
Mary H. Miller Executive Secretary Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Lyn Beth Neylon President, Board of Directors Human Rights Access
Father Bill O'Donnell Pastor St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Berkeley, CA
Karen Orenstein Washington Organizer East Timor Action Network
Erin Potts Director Milrepa Fund
Anna Rhee Chair Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace
Carol Richardson Co-Director School of the Americas Watch
Tim Rinne State Coordinator Nebraskans for Peace
Charles Scheiner National Coordinator East Timor Action Network
Catherine Sheehy Board Coordinator Washington Peace Center
Shaun Skelton Director Visions in Action
Morton Sklar Director World Organization Against Torture, USA
Nancy Small National Coordinator Pax Christi, USA
Edward W. Stowe Legislative Secretary Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dean David Targan Associate Dean, Professor Brown University
Ben Terrall Director East Timor Relief and Research Project
David Tsai President Center for Taiwan International Relations
Edith Villastrigo Legislative Director Women Strike for Peace
Sonam Wangdu Chairman US Tibet Committee
Phil Wheaton Director Conversion for Reclaiming Earth in the Americas
Louis Wolf Editor Covert Action Quarterly
Kani Xulam Director American Kurdish Information Network
Alice Zachmann Director Guatemala Human Rights Commission, USA
Stephen Zunes Professor of Politics Chair of Peace and Justice Studies Program University of San Francisco
CC: Vice President Al Gore