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ETAN's Annual Fund Appeal 2000

December 7, 2000

Dear friend of East Timor,

Today marks a quarter-century since Indonesia invaded East Timor with U.S. political and military support. The subsequent occupation was one of the most brutal in world history, taking the lives of one-third of the East Timorese people.

Last year the occupation ended, thanks to East Timorese resistance and the efforts of people like you. On August 30, 1999, East Timor voted overwhelmingly to oust the Indonesian military. Today they are under a United Nations administration, and by the end of next year East Timor will become the first new nation of this millennium.

Your financial support is essential for the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) to continue the vital work that persuaded the U.S. government to support East Timorese self-determination. Please be generous now, when East Timor is on the verge of long-denied nationhood.

The Indonesian military and its militias engaged in widespread terror to prevent the UN from holding the August 30 ballot and to intimidate the East Timorese from voting. In the two weeks following the referendum, they laid siege to the country, destroying more than 75% of East Timor's infrastructure and forcing hundreds of thousands into exile.

Reconstruction in East Timor is slow but progressing, and militia attacks across the border in West Timor have greatly declined. But the UN administration brings its own problems — insensitivity, bureaucratic infighting, poor communication with the local population and ill-conceived funding priorities. Although what many Timorese deem as the “new occupation” is temporary and relatively benevolent, East Timorese people are increasingly seeing it as a final roadblock on the way to independence.

ETAN wants to convert that roadblock into an escort that provides needed assistance — but not decision-making — as East Timor emerges into independence.

The enclosed annual report describes our activities during 2000 — the decisive first year after occupation.

ETAN has been an effective force in changing U.S. government policy toward East Timor. Thanks in large part to ETAN’s work since 1991, current Washington policy is now generally supportive. We must work to keep it that way, whatever the election outcome.

Recently, U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg visited East Timor. Addressing the UN Security Council, she stressed issues ETAN also feels are critical:

Ø       Those who committed crimes in East Timor during 1999 must be held accountable.

Ø       East Timorese refugees trapped in Indonesia must be allowed to return home. The Indonesian government must take decisive action to disarm and disband the militias, and militia leaders must be brought to justice.

Ø       The United Nations Transitional Administration should be more sensitive to the desires of the East Timorese people. The international community should continue to support East Timor even after next year’s Independence Day.

Although we agree with these goals, ETAN goes further. We urge our own government and the international community:

Ø       To refuse to provide weapons or training to Indonesia’s military. Largely due to grassroots pressure, the U.S. suspended military assistance to Jakarta. This ban must be continued to encourage democratization, civilian rule and an end to human rights violations throughout the archipelago, especially in West Timor, Aceh, West Papua and Maluku.

Ø       To support an international tribunal to prosecute those who committed crimes against humanity in East Timor since 1975. Reconciliation and peace cannot be achieved without justice.

Ø       To encourage the UN administration and the future East Timorese government to be responsive to the needs of the poor majority in East Timor. In this time of increasing corporate globalization, East Timor could be a model — or a counter-example — of how to develop a people-oriented government and economy.

Much remains to be done. During 2001, ETAN will continue to educate, agitate and advocate on these issues and others. Among the projects we will be involved in:

Ø       Lobbying the new administration in Washington. The new U.S. president and Congress will need continual education and pressure to increase support for justice and self-rule for East Timor.

Ø       Government-to-government relations. ETAN will work to ensure that the relationship between Dili and Washington is as equitable as possible and serves the interests of the Timorese.

Ø       People-to-people ties. ETAN chapters, churches, schools and other organizations across the United States are building grassroots links with East Timor, including sister-city ties. East Timorese activists can teach and learn much by visiting their counterparts in the U.S.; U.S. activists can also learn from doing useful work within East Timor.

Ø       La’o Hamutuk. ETAN was instrumental in starting this joint East Timorese/international project, which monitors and seeks to influence the reconstruction and development process from a grassroots East Timorese perspective

Ø       Supporting humanitarian and grassroots efforts. Although ETAN does not provide direct financial or material aid to East Timor, we inform and guide individuals and agencies to make sure their efforts are effective and empowering.

Ø       International cooperation. ETAN is a key member of the International Federation for East Timor (IFET), representing it at the UN in New York. IFET continues to coordinate joint activities and lobby international agencies to serve East Timorese needs.

Ø       Supporting human rights in Indonesia. During 2000, ETAN helped start the U.S.-based Indonesia Human Rights Network, and we work closely with IHRN to advance peace, democracy and justice in the world’s fourth-largest country.

Your activism and financial assistance helped us change U.S. government policies and end Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor. Although East Timor has faded from U.S. headlines, money and attention are needed now as much as ever.

Please continue to support ETAN as we travel with the East Timorese people along the perilous path to self-government. Your contribution can help empower East Timor not only to achieve genuine independence, but also to develop a just and peaceful society.

Over the last month, we’ve seen the hollowness of the U.S. self-image as an exemplar of democracy. But the East Timorese people know what democracy really looks like:  98.6% of their electorate bravely voted last year, 78.5% for independence. They have much to teach us, and we can help them transcend barriers imposed by foreign governments, corporations and outside interests.

In the local Tetun language, Timor Loro Sa’e is the land of the rising sun. Please join us in ushering in this new day. Thank you.

For justice, peace, and a new day for Timor Loro Sa’e,

Charles Scheiner
National Coordinator


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