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S Senate: 'Solve E Timor conflict!'

On 29 July 1991, the US Senate adopted a 'sense of the Congress' decision calling on the US Administration to address "the underlying causes of the conflict in East Timor". The decision which has been adopted as Amendment 878 of the Foreign Appropriations Bill, was proposed by Democrat Senator Claiborne Pell (Dem. Rhode Island), chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and supported by senators from both parties: Senator Malcolm Wallop (Rep. Wyoming), Senator John Kerry (Dem. Massachusetts), Senator Paul Simon (Dem. Illinois), Senator Carl Levin (Dem. Michigan), Senator Daniel Moynihan (Dem. New York), Senator Dave Durenberger (Rep. Minnesota) and Senator Jesse Helms (Rep. N. Carolina).

The amendment provides that the following shall be incorporated into the Bill:

a. FINDINGS - The Congress finds that,

(1) at least 100,000 individuals out of a population of nearly 700,000 perished in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor between 1975 and 1980, as a result of war-related killings, famine and disease following the invasion of that territory by Indonesia; (2) Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations continue to report evidence in East Timor of human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary arrest, and repression of freedom of expression;

(3) serious medical, nutritional and humanitarian problems persist in East Timor;

(4) a state of conflict continues to exist in East Timor; and (5) the governments of Portugal and Indonesia have conducted discussions since 1982 under the auspices of the United Nations to find an internationally acceptable solution to the East Timor conflict.

b. STATEMENT OF POLICY - It is the sense of the Congress that, (1) the President should urge the Government of Indonesia to take action to end all forms of human rights violations in East Timor and to permit full freedom of expression in East Timor;

(2) the President should encourage the Government of Indonesia to facilitate the work of international human rights organizations and other groups seeking to monitor human rights conditions in East Timor and to cooperate with international humanitarian relief and development organizations seeking to work in East Timor; and (3) that the administration should work with the United Nations and the governments of Indonesia, Portugal, and other involved parties to develop policies to address the underlying causes of the conflict in East Timor.

Bipartisan support

In an address introducing his amendment, Senator Pell said it had been cleared on both sides of the aisle. He said:

"Last New Year's Eve, the Indonesian-appointed Governor of East Timor observed that unlike international efforts to expel Iraq from Kuwait, no-one wanted to come to the rescue of East Timor. This resolution attempts to rectify this cynical view of the international community's concerns. While we are not advocating Indonesia's expulsion from East Timor, we are reminding Indonesians that they have international responsibilities to respect human rights of the East Timorese, improve their quality of life and resolve the conflict there in a peaceful fashion."

At Senator Pell's request, the full text of the article, "Secret Killing of a Nation" by Hugh O'Shaughnessy, published in The Observer on 7 April 1991. was printed into the Congressional Record. [This article was posted on reg.easttimor at the time.] Having been adopted without opposition by the Senate, the amendment will now be considered in 'Conference', the stage at which the Senate and the House of Representatives agree on the contents of the Bill before its formal adoption.

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