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ETAN Urges U.S. Congress to Support Justice for East Timor and Indonesia

by John M. Miller

For the twelfth year in a row, ETAN organized several dozen people to come to Washington, DC, in early June to educate the U.S. Congress on issues related to East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN activists met with over 140 Congressional offices. The group ws joined by two East Timorese who are studying in the U.S. This year's ETAN Advocacy Days focused on justice for past human rights violations in East Timor and continued restrictions on U.S. military engagement with Indonesia.

ETAN's advocates updated Congress on the situations in Aceh and West Papua and the slow pace of military reform in Indonesia. They urged Congress to continue the ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Indonesia and to restore restrictions on military training.

ETANers on Capitol Hill during Advocacy Days.  

On justice, they urged Congress to support the report of the UN Commission of Experts and to view the issue of accountability for serious crimes in East Timor as an international responsibility and an extension of past Congressional efforts to end these abuses Activists highlighted the fact that many of the officers responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor are directing atrocities in West Papua and Aceh. In tsunami-stricken Aceh, ongoing military action is affecting reconstruction and sabotaging peace efforts.

During the week, ETAN organized a demonstration at the Indonesian Embassy. Its theme was justice: Justice for East Timor and for the many victims of Indonesian security force violence in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere. Some signs said "Justice Builds Friendship"; others called for "Justice for Genocide" and "Peace in Aceh." A special call was made to identify, arrest and credibly bring to trial those responsible for last year's murder of Munir, Indonesia's best-known human rights advocate.

Since its founding as the East Timor Action Network in late 1991, ETAN has urged Congress to act in defense of human rights and justice. As a result, Congress has often taken the lead on restricting military training and weapons sales to Indonesia and in supporting self-determination for East Timor. The executive branch (especially the Clinton administration) then followed, supporting the referendum in 1999 and imposing a total suspension of all military assistance as Indonesian forces devastated East Timor after the vote.

Since then, some military assistance has been restored. However, ETAN, recently renamed the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, has urged the U.S. government to maintain restrictions as the best way to support democracy, military reform and human rights in Indonesia and justice for the victims of crimes against humanity in East Timor and Indonesia.

Since the referendum, ETAN has also worked to build Congressional support for a just settlement to East Timor's boundary dispute with Australia.
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June 2005

ETANers demonstrate for justice at Indonesian embassy in DC.


ETANers demonstrate for justice for East Timor at Indonesian embassy in DC.




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