On 30th Anniversary of Indonesian Invasion of East Timor, ETAN
Calls for Justice, Understanding of U.S. Role
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; mobile: 917-690-4391
December 7 - On the 30th anniversary of Indonesia’s invasion of
East Timor, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
(ETAN) today called on the world to listen to East Timor’s victims
and act on their demands for justice. The group also urged the
United States government to formally acknowledge its past support
for Indonesia’s brutal military occupation of East Timor, and for
the international community to learn from this history and never
repeat the same crimes.
“The U.S. was the most important supporter of Indonesia’s illegal
attack and occupation,” said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of
ETAN. “If President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger had not
given the go-ahead for Indonesia’s
tremendous suffering would have been avoided,” added Miller.
The group also reiterated its call for
release of the report of East Timor’s Commission for Reception,
Truth and Reconciliation (known by its Portuguese initials, CAVR)
and encouraged the U.S. and other governments to act on its
“The CAVR’s recommendations are essential to charting a course of
justice for the victims and provide a strong basis for
reconciliation at all levels,” said Miller. “Although the people of
East Timor were the primary victims of the quarter-century of
occupation that began 30 years ago today, such crimes against
humanity victimize us all.”
“The CAVR’s findings provide important details and
recommendations about the tremendous suffering U.S.-supplied weapons
inflicted on the East Timorese people, suffering which was
facilitated by U.S. political, diplomatic and military support. The
CAVR’s account will help us realize the horrendous impact of U.S.
government policies throughout the occupation,” said Karen
Orenstein, National Coordinator of ETAN.
“Clearly, the current administration has not learned critical
lessons from that period. Last month, the Bush administration
steam-rolled over congressional intent by
issuing a waiver to allow unfettered U.S. support for Indonesia’s
unrepentant military,” added Orenstein.
On December 7, 1975, Indonesia launched its full-scale invasion
of East Timor only hours after U.S. President Gerald Ford and
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the green light to Suharto,
the Indonesian dictator. The U.S. supplied nearly all weapons used.
Declassified documents released last week by the Washington-based
National Security Archive (NSA) confirm that several U.S.
administrations understood that Indonesia intended to invade East
Timor, and that the invasion and occupation were rife with human
rights violations and catastrophic suffering. At the same time,
successive administrations concealed this information from Congress
and the American people. The NSA researched and obtained these
documents to assist the CAVR in its work.
The U.S. supplied 90 percent of the weapons used during the
invasion. For the next twenty-four years, from Ford to Clinton,
successive U.S. administrations consistently backed Indonesia’s
occupation, providing Jakarta diplomatic cover and billions of
dollars worth of weaponry, military training and economic
assistance. These actions resulted in the killing of many tens of
thousands of East Timorese civilians.
"Since Timor’s independence referendum in September 1999,
Washington has provided monetary and other assistance to East
Timor’s reconstruction and development, but such aid does not even
begin to compensate the East Timorese people for the suffering
caused by 24 years of U.S. support for Indonesian military
occupation,” said Miller. “Along with the CAVR, we agree that the
U.S. owes East Timor reparations.”
The CAVR recommends reparations to victims from countries like
the U.S. which backed the occupation and from corporations which
profited from selling weapons to Indonesia during that period.
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East
Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to
prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975
to 1999 and for restrictions on U.S. military assistance to
Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security forces and
full accountability for human rights violations.
Spokespeople for ETAN are available for interviews, call