etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer Dear Friend of East Timor,

Dear Friend of East Timor,

Thank you for your request for information about East Timor. When 78.5% of the East Timorese people voted for independence 18 months ago, they prayed that their long nightmare was over. But Indonesia's military responded with unbelievable violence. They drove three-quarters of the population from their homes into the mountains or forced them, at gunpoint, to West Timor and other islands. Militias, directed by the Indonesian military, still control many of the refugee camps outside East Timor, holding refugees as virtual hostages. Last September, militias murdered three U.N. refugee workers including American Carlos Caceres, and all internationals evacuated from West Timor. They have not returned to the camps.

Humanitarian relief inside and outside East Timor is obstructed by militia terror, bureaucratic bungling, or deference to claimed Indonesian sovereignty. Although government and NGO agencies understand the desperate needs of people in East Timor, political and security obstacles created by Indonesian intransigence and international hesitation still keep over 100,000 of them displaced and terrorized in West Timor, Indonesia.
I was evacuated from East Timor a week after observing the 1999 referendum. I watched courageous and committed East Timorese people vote for independence, knowing that the Indonesian military would seek revenge. Our International Federation for East Timor Observer Project repeatedly warned of the threat of widespread military violence, but the United States and the U.N. did nothing to avert the annihilation. The banners proclaiming "The U.N. will still be here after the vote" were a cruel commitment not kept.

The international community, following Washington's lead, failed to deliver on its promises until East Timor was destroyed. Although the U.S. media and public have finally discovered East Timor, and the U.N. transitional government is in place, East Timorese people continue to suffer. No significant moves have been taken for an international tribunal or any other way to hold Indonesian military officers accountable for the devastation of 1999 or the previous near-genocidal occupation. When I returned to East Timor last December, I was gratified to see the hopeful eyes of people at last free from military terror. But they face a multitude of problems of transition.
ETAN works for East Timorese human rights and genuine self-determination, and pushes the U.S. government in that direction. We hope that the world will not forget the horror Indonesia has inflicted on the Timorese people - and will act to ensure the peace and self-government they have been denied for so long. In both the political and humanitarian spheres, huge tasks remain.

United States policy is key to ending this blot on humanity's conscience. The East Timor Action Network/US has been active since 1991, educating and organizing for self-determination and human rights. We've moved Washington far since President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger gave the green light to the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, leading to 200,000 deaths and 24 years of brutal occupation, but much still needs to be done. Although Clinton administration policy improved after Suharto's 1998 overthrow, Bush-Powell-Cheney positions are worrisome.

Since 1992, ETAN has persuaded Congress and the Administration to limit U.S. military cooperation with the Jakarta regime, with many legislated restrictions on military training aid and arms sales. In 1998 the Senate unanimously supported a referendum in East Timor, and Congress passed strong resolutions against paramilitary violence in summer 1999 -- bills we advocated and helped to write, overcoming resistance from the Pentagon and the White House. When the military-controlled militias ran amok that September, President Clinton finally suspended most economic and military support for Jakarta, opening the way for Indonesia to allow U.N. troops in. But the new administration is less concerned about human rights, and could resume military aid at any time. We're asking Congress to outlaw U.S. support for Indonesia until militia violence has ended, displaced persons are returned home, and those responsible for the devastation are held accountable.

ETAN works to continue the suspension to arms sales and training to Indonesia, humanitarian support, justice, self-determination, and public outreach. We have books, videos, audiotapes and CDs. Our most recent Annual Report and newsletters describe much of our work, as does this website. Although we'd appreciate at least $15/year to cover costs, our primary goal is to get information out, and we'll send it free. That's not to say that money is unimportant. Our expenses are paid for with donations from people like you; please be generous. Contributions of over $50 for educational work are tax-deductible if made payable to " AJ Muste Memorial Institute/ETAN;" non-tax-deductible donations can be made out to ETAN.

Much of ETAN's work is carried out by local groups. If there's one in your area, give them a call. If there isn't, we'd be glad to send you a list of nearby activists -- perhaps you can start one.

The key to changing US policy toward East Timor is a strong grassroots movement. We welcome your participation. 

Thank you.

For Justice and Peace for East Timor,

Charles Scheiner, coordinator