and etan friends and others
Congrats on 20 years of important and key activism
on issues initially to do with all things East
Timor, and since 2005 including other Indonesian
abuses in particular in West Papua.
As someone who lives on the southern edge of the
Timor Sea, and therefore was a keen long term
supporter of East Timor's human rights, I wish:
computers and email had been invented earlier
had been around to show us how to utilise email as a
super-effective activism tool.
But ETAN did much more than allow all of us
around the world to read. It represented
effective advocacy for East Timor at the UN
and elsewhere. That in itself was a major
role, something many of us simply could not
Fortunately it came 20 years ago, and I got to know
the names John M Miller, and Charlie Scheiner. I met
Charlie long before John, though I had numerous
dealings with John. Even in the early days I
marvelled at the dedication and application required
and supplied to keep the etan network going, and
There were times when the volume of postings was
unbelievable, like late 1999 at around 200/day, and
these days as I get older I can't believe I coped.
If pushed, secretly I might have to admit to a few
odd thou unread emails waiting to be dealt with. If
I get as old as Noam Chomsky, and borrowing a small
fraction of his diligence and brilliance, I might
one day sort them out.
But ETAN did much more than allow all of us around
the world to read. It represented effective advocacy
for East Timor at the UN and elsewhere. That in
itself was a major role, something many of us simply
could not do.
If I thought that East Timor independence might see
John and Charlie's energy flag, I was wrong. Charlie
has been living in Dili to make a massive impact to
a new and inexperienced country and government.
Without Charlie and
Lao Hamutuk (LH), where would be a clear voice
of reason be coming from? John's ongoing role would
be less known to those who don't read email and etan
news, (which of course is most of East Timor), but
it is as constant and worthy and comprehensive.
I know ETAN is not just Charlie and John, and I have
met many other dedicated worthies, and there are
many others I haven't yet had the privilege and
pleasure, so this ode to ETAN is to include all.
Another aspect is I understand that ETAN was started
to keep a weather eye on the UN and foreign groups,
but as East Timor becomes more independent the need
is more to keep a weather eye on East Timorese
Government bodies, both organisations and personnel.
I note some increasing tendencies this way. Charlie
and LH did warn about the dangers of temptation to
new big sources of cash, with 'resource curse' to be
avoided. May ETAN and LH with aware East Timorese
keep going and keep an eye on resource curse dangers
etc at least until these disappear. Deep breaths,
people, and good luck.
Rob Wesley-Smith Darwin NT Australia
Read additional reflections on ETAN's
celebrate our 20th Anniversary. Donate today!
With your help, we can put ETAN on a firmer footing for the
Please give generously in this anniversary year. In doing so,
you can help strengthen
ETAN to meet the challenges of the coming years.
Read Noam Chomsky on 20 years of ETAN