Download and share Nobel Laureate
Ramos-Horta's letter about ETAN (PDF)
Peace Prize Laureate
and former President, Democratic Republic
Dear friend of my beloved country,
Timor-Leste recently celebrated the 41st anniversary of our
Declaration of Independence, a right and a dream that was finally
realized in 2002. For the last quarter-century of our journey, the
East Timor and Indonesia
Action Network (ETAN) has been among our most effective and
consistent supporters. Their solidarity has been exemplary,
beginning during the brutal, difficult depths of the illegal
Indonesian military occupation and continuing through the economic
and political challenges we face today as a 14-year-old,
post-conflict, post-colonial, sovereign nation.
Twenty-five years ago, a month after Indonesian troops brutally
massacred young, nonviolent Timorese protesters at Santa Cruz
cemetery in Dili, peace and justice activists organized a peaceful
vigil in front of the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations. With
participation from people around the United States, that quickly
grew into a national organization which, by 1999, had 12,000 members
in 28 local chapters. Their protests and lobbying of the U.S. government and the United
Nations were a vital element in enabling my people to vote in a
UN-supervised referendum. As you know, Indonesian efforts to
intimidate us failed, and the overwhelming mandate for independence
led to Timor-Leste becoming the first new sovereign nation of the
Without solidarity from international friends like ETAN,
Timor-Leste’s dream of independence would not have become a reality.
"ETAN is an exceptional organization, and their continuing
support for the people of my country needs your help. I
recently made a sizeable donation to ETAN, and I hope you
will also do so."
Before the referendum, I served as Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister in
exile, lobbying decision makers all over the world for my people’s
right to self-determination. Although ETAN always acted
independently, we collaborated closely to encourage the U.S.
government to abandon its diplomatic and military support for the
Suharto dictatorship’s illegal occupation.
Since 2002, I have been the Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and
President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. As I evolved
from diplomat-in-exile to Head of State, ETAN maintained their
solidarity with my people. In government, I had to make difficult
decisions concerning past crimes in the interest of better
relations with post-Suharto Indonesia, our largest neighbor and
biggest trading partner.
Although ETAN and I sometimes have different views on issues like
accountability for past crimes and self-determination for West
Papua, I know that their positions are based on principle, and I
admire and respect their tenacity.
the last five years, I have worked to improve the effectiveness of
UN peacekeeping worldwide. I have helped Guinea-Bissau and other
conflict-affected countries strive for the peace and human rights
that the people of Timor-Leste are finally able to enjoy. I know how
unusual – and how important – it is for people living under
repression and conflict to have reliable, committed supporters in
places like the United States.
Timor-Leste never attracted widespread popular attention in the
United States, even during the peak of our struggle against violent
occupation. Since the killing ended, we have become a “normal”
country, and U.S. government policy now respects the rights of my
people. It is even more difficult to get Americans to care about a
small nation on the other side of the world, which is why ETAN’s
work continue to be essential.
|ETAN's John M. Miller and Charles
Scheiner with Jose Ramos-Horta in Dili, May 21, 2012. Photo
ETAN’s email list is an invaluable source of information, from a
variety of perspectives, for more than 4,600 people around the
globe. Their steadfast support for resolving permanent maritime
boundaries with our neighbors, especially Australia, continues the
international solidarity that was crucial to achieving sovereignty
over Timor-Leste’s land territory.
As we evolve from a petroleum-export-dependent nation to one
whose economy is based on our own resources and labor, ETAN’s
support and encouragement continues to be irreplaceable.
2012, on the 10th anniversary of the restoration of our
independence, I was pleased to join in awarding both ETAN and its
co-founder Charles Scheiner with the
Ordem de Timor-Leste for their support for our liberation.
ETAN's actions and campaigns have always been based on the interests
of the people, developed after consulting our civil society.
Although ETAN’s annual budget is smaller than virtually every other
international organization involved with our country, the work that
they do is invaluable.
ETAN is an exceptional organization, and their continuing support
for the people of my country needs your help. I recently made a
sizeable donation to ETAN, and I hope you will also do so.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President, Democratic Republic
P.S. Please consider becoming an ETAN Sustainer
by making a monthly donation by credit card. Help put ETAN on a firmer
financial footing, see information here.