Contact: Brad Simpson, 773-255-7949 For Immediate Release
Eric Pitriowski, 831-728-4190 Karen Orenstein, 914-428-7299
East Timor Action Network/U.S. Washington Office, 110 Maryland Ave., NE, Box 30, Washington, DC 20002, 202-544-6911; firstname.lastname@example.org
Residence of Nobel Prize Laureate Attacked, Thousands Kidnapped by Militias Indonesian Military Waging Full-Scale Operation
Remaining Foreign Referendum Observers Evacuated
East Timor Action Network Calls for Immediate Suspension of All Aid to Indonesia and Support for UN-controlled Security
4 September 1999 - Most remaining U.S.-based referendum observers were forced to evacuate East Timor today as Indonesian-backed paramilitaries and Indonesian military units conduct widespread operations throughout the capital of Dili. The residence of Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Carlos Belo has been attacked and burned by paramilitaries, while thousands of refugees who had taken shelter in his compound were loaded at gunpoint onto trucks and taken to an undisclosed location.
The rampage of Indonesian-backed paramilitaries in East Timor has become a well-coordinated military operation involving elements of both the Indonesian army and police. Observers still in Dili report that Indonesia's feared Kopassus Special Forces troops and intelligence agents are involved in and perhaps directing a systematic campaign of killings, burnings and forced evacuation in the capital and outlying areas. Sources inside Dili report over 170 killed in the last several days.
"The UN.process, which gave voice to the political aspirations of the vast majority of East Timorese, is being destroyed as we speak," said Ben Terrell, one of the last remaining observers with the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP), as he was forced to evacuate Dili. "We urgently call upon the international community to support the immediate introduction of UN forces to East Timor." Most remaining IFET observers (from an August 30 total of more than 120) were evacuated yesterday and today to Denpassar, Bali and Darwin, Australia.
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today called for an immediate halt to all U.S. military and financial assistance to Indonesia. "The U.S. response must be swift and decisive as it's long overdue," said Lynn Fredriksson, Washington Representative for ETAN. "The Clinton adminstration must press for an immediate suspension of IMF funding, and announce a complete cut-off of U.S. military and financial aid to Indonesia. We know who is terrorizing East Timor; the Indonesian military is responsible for killing and burning not for security. The UN mandate must be expanded to assume control in East Timor and we call on our government to support this. The lives of countless thousands of East Timorese lie in the balance."
The East Timor Action Network can arrange interviews in Darwin and Indonesia with foreign observers who just evacuated East Timor, as well as observers returning to the United States. ETAN can also schedule interviews for journalist Allan Nairn in Dili, Dr. Dan Murphy of the Motael Clinic in Dili, Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, and other East Timorese leaders and human rights advocates. Please contact us for more information.
The East Timor Action Network/US was founded in November, 1991, following the massacre of more than 270 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports human rights and genuine self-determination for the people of East Timor in accordance with the UN charter and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. ETAN/US currently has 25 local chapters.