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Election 2000 & East Timor

Sample Questions for Candidates 

By asking clear questions about U.S. policy on Indonesia and East Timor, you can simultaneously educate the public and establish candidates positions on US policy toward Indonesia and East Timor.

• Last August, East Timor voted for overwhelmingly for independence. The Indonesian military and its militias then destroyed most of the country. Soon after, the U.S. suspended military ties with Indonesia. The administration is now beginning to restore those ties, despite a Congressional ban on resumption until Indonesian military-backed militia stop attacking East Timor and intimidating refugees trapped in West Timor. Do you agree that U.S.-Indonesia military ties should remain suspended? 

• Do you agree that human rights should be a key element of our foreign policy? Last year, the Indonesian military destroyed most of East Timor, and it continues to commit severe rights abuses in Indonesia, including Aceh, West Papua and the Moluccas. Should the United States refrain from supporting the Indonesian military until it is held accountable for past crimes and brought under civilian control? 

• In 1975, Indonesia invaded and occupied its smaller neighbor, East Timor, with U.S. weapons and support. Last year, East Timor voted for independence. Given the unfortunate history of support U.S. for the occupation of East Timor, do you agree that the U.S. should provide greater financial assistance for the world’s newest nation? Would you vote for additional funds to support East Timor’s reconstruction and development? 

• Soon after the Indonesian military and its militias destroyed most of East Timor last year, the U.S. suspended military ties with Indonesia. But the Pentagon has recently resumed those ties, without congressional approval. In July, while U.S. and Indonesian troops were engaged in joint exercises, Indonesian military-backed militia killed and mutilated a UN peacekeeper in East Timor, international humanitarian workers were chased out of refugee camps in West Timor, and Indonesian police killed two civilians in West Papua for raising an opposition flag. Apparently, resuming U.S. military support for Indonesia only encourages the worst behavior of the Indonesian military. Will you oppose such support until the military conforms to international standards of human rights and freedom?

• In August 1999, the East Timorese voted for independence. The Indonesian military and its paramilitary militias then ransacked East Timor. The Indonesian government assured the international community that there was no need for an international peacekeeping force, that it would put an end to the violence. Of course, the horror continued until the international peacekeepers arrived. The criminals who ordered and participated in the post-ballot carnage may face trial, and Indonesia once again assures the world it can do the job itself. Should Indonesia have the chance to award its military impunity or should an international tribunal be set up now to make certain that real justice is served?

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Updated August 8, 2000

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