Frank Moves to Help East Timor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Peter Kovar (202) 225-5931
Dorothy Reichard (617) 332-3920
FRANK MOVES TO HELP EAST TIMOR
Congressman Barney Frank today announced two actions he has taken to help the people of East Timor. This morning, Frank made a strong speech on the floor of the House of Representatives condemning the Indonesian government's actions in East Timor in the wake of the recent vote there, and calling for the international community to take immediate steps to support the right of the people of East Timor to decide their own political future. In addition, at the request of the Portuguese Embassy in Washington, Frank will be hosting a meeting tomorrow between Members of Congress and five members of the Portuguese parliament to discuss the appropriate international response to the violence and political turmoil in East Timor.
At a sparsely attended morning session in the House today -- as Congress began to return from its summer recess -- Frank was one of three Congressmen who used the One Minute speech period, generally scheduled at the start of each day the House is in session, to express outrage at the behavior of the Indonesian government and the militia groups it is supporting. Joining Frank in the effort, were Reps. James McGovern (D-MA) and Robert Underwood (D-Guam).
In his speech, Frank said that "the government of Indonesia should be made to understand the terrible consequences it will pay if it continues the barbarous oppression of the people of East Timor. It is simply intolerable for the world to stand by and allow people to be slaughtered wantonly because they express their democratic right to claim their independence . . . [I]f there is the need, an international force must go in, lest we show the world that we consider human rights to be a matter for Europeans only."
In addition, at the Embassy's request, Frank has invited his Congressional colleagues who have been most active and interested in the fight for human rights and self-determination in East Timor to join him at 2:30 PM in his office tomorrow to meet with the five Portuguese parliamentarians, who represent each of the five major parties in Portugal.
"Tomorrow's meeting should offer an excellent opportunity for us to exchange ideas on how our two countries can best contribute to ending the violence and moving toward democracy in East Timor," Frank said. "It is clear that without greater involvement by the international community, the Indonesian government, whether by action or inaction, is likely to continue to sabotage the expressed will of the people of East Timor for control of their own political destiny. I am hopeful the meeting will help us develop strategies to overcome that attitude on the part of the government of Indonesia."
The full text of Frank's speech follows.
THE BARBAROUS OPPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR IS INTOLERABLE
Madam Speaker, the government of Indonesia should be made to understand the terrible consequences it will pay if it continues the barbarous oppression of the people of East Timor. It is simply intolerable for the world to stand by and allow people to be slaughtered wantonly because they express their democratic right to claim their independence.
I have spent a great deal of my time as a member here on matters involving the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. I want to serve notice now, I know I speak for many of my colleagues who have similarly worked on those issues, that if the IMF and the World Bank do not immediately tell the Indonesian government that all aid will be suspended until order and peace are restored to East Timor, then they will have grave difficulty when they come here again for financial assistance. We will not be party to the funding of slaughter.
To those who say we must withhold, let us look at Serbia and Kosovo. The moral case for an international force intervening in East Timor is as great as the moral case was in Kosovo, and the legal case is greater. We ignored Serbia's claim of sovereignty over Kosovo and gave in to the moral imperative to save people. In Indonesia, the government in power held a referendum. Overwhelmingly, in the face of great intimidation, the brave people of East Timor voted for independence. That gives us an even stronger right to send a multinational force in there so the Indonesian government must cease. The international funding agencies must cut off aid if they do not; and, if there is the need, an international force must go in, lest we show the world that we consider human rights to be a matter for Europeans only.
The people of East Timor have a strong moral claim on our assistance.
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