I had lived
in Papua New Guinea for 4 years and been there
when 10,000 refugees had come across the border
from West Papua escaping the Indonesian army
raids when Arnold Ap was assassinated while in
custody for a flag raising in 1982. I had just
organized a year long human rights program on
the UCLA campus for an organization called
International Alert for Genocide and Mass
Killing with Professors Leo and Hilda Kuper.
By 1991, I was a graduate student at UCLA
finishing my dissertation when word of the
Santa Cruz massacre came across the Activist
Mailing list, a list server for activists
across the country. On the heels of the
reports of Amy Goodman and Alan Nairn
suffering severe head injuries and barely
escaping the Indonesian Army while hundreds
were massacred, someone sent out an email
that just stated the need to a solidarity
organization in the U.S. with East Timor. I
immediately wrote back in support and that
is how the East Timor Action Network started
as one of the very first organizing efforts
to effectively utilize the very new
potential of the internet.
Charlie Scheiner, Richard Koch, and John M.
Miller became our center of gravity in New
York, tirelessly organizing chapter in the
various cities that had responded. They put
me in touch with another young graduate
student at UCLA who had written a paper for
a class about the East Timor situation named
Joe Nevins. Together, we formed the Los
Angeles chapter of ETAN and protested in
front of an Indonesian Trade show at the LA
Convention Center with just myself, my 7
year old daughter and Joe.
the 25th anniversary of the invasion, I put
paper bags with sand and candles (Luminarias),
one for each year of the occupation with the
year written on each one and a cross, in
front of the Indonesian consulate.
In order to build the chapter in Los Angeles, Joe and I
took turns sitting out in front of screenings of the
film about Noam Chomsky called Manufacturing Consent in
1992 to sign up people as the left.
We held many demonstrations in front of the Indonesian
consulate and were clearly a thorn in their side. They
filmed us and attempted in other ways to intimidate us,
and then finally gave up and closed the consulate down
for the day. On the 25th anniversary of the invasion, I
put paper bags with sand and candles (Luminarias), one
for each year of the occupation with the year written on
each one and a cross, in front of the Indonesian
consulate. Another time we also walked over to the
Consulate's residence and wrote all the names of the Dili
massacre victims with sidewalk chalk on the public
sidewalk in from of his house.
But I always felt that the Lobby Days were the most
effective effort. I managed to attend only a couple of
times but they were always well organized and a powerful
By 1999, when the referendum was happening, I had moved
to Oakland, and was arrested in front to the Indonesian
Consulate in San Francisco protesting the destruction
and mass killing in the wake of the successful
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