Congressional Support Builds for East Timor
Key House Committee Supports Self-Determination
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668 email@example.com
Lynn Fredriksson (202) 544-6911 firstname.lastname@example.org
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today praised support by the House Appropriations
Committee for self-determination for Indonesian-occupied East Timor. The powerful
committee called for an "internationally supervised referendum" when it passed
the foreign operations appropriations bill late last week. The committee action is the
most recent expression of Congressional support for a UN-supervised vote on the
Indonesian-occupied territory's political status.
The same week over 100 members of the House sent separate
letters to President Clinton and Indonesian President Habibie urging a just solution
based on the wishes of the people of East Timor.
In a report accompanying the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the House of
Representatives committee pressed the Indonesian government "to take bold and
innovative steps to deal with the East Timor issue. In this regard, the Committee supports
an internationally supervised referendum to determine a comprehensive settlement of the
political status of East Timor."
"Recent actions by both the House and Senate send a strong message that members of
Congress want to see a just and peaceful end to a brutal military occupation in which over
200,000 East Timorese have lost their lives," said Lynn Fredriksson, Washington
Representative of ETAN. "It is appropriate that the U.S. Congress has taken a strong
interest in the plight of East Timor. Its invasion and occupation by Indonesia were made
possible by U.S. weapons and political support."
The House letters to the two presidents, initiated by Representative Tony Hall (D-OH),
urged the release of political prisoners, including East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao,
and underscored the need for a speedy resolution of the East Timor problem "based on
the freely expressed wishes of the people of East Timor," as called for by UN
resolutions, Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Belo and many others in East Timor and Indonesia.
The House appropriations bill reported out of committee on September 10 would also
continue the ban on IMET (International Military and Education Training) aid to Indonesia,
allowing only expanded IMET. Expanded IMET is supposed to be restricted to classroom
training in matters such as civilian-military relations.
The committee also said it was "very disturbed" that Indonesia had received
military training through the JCET (Joint Combined Exchange Training) program, saying it
was "certainly inconsistent with the spirit'"of the IMET ban. The
committee report said that: "In an effort to clarify this matter, the Committee
emphasizes that it remains the Committee's firm belief that at the present time all
military training for Indonesia should be limited only to expanded IMET."
The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill calls for a detailed report of all overseas
military training to foreign militaries conducted or planned by the Pentagon. This
provision resulted from the controversy over JCET training of the Indonesian military
revealed by ETAN and others earlier this year.
The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill must still be voted on by the entire House
of Representatives and reconciled with the Senate version before becoming law.
On September 3, the full Senate banned the use of U.S. weapons in
East Timor. The provision, included in its version of the Foreign Operations
Appropriations bill, requires that any agreement to sell weapons to Indonesia "shall
state that such items will not be used in East Timor." A version of this provision is
included in the House bill.
On July 10, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 237. The resolution urges
the Clinton administration to "work actively, through the United Nations and with
United States allies, ... to support an internationally supervised referendum on
The House Appropriations Committee also called for an end to human rights abuses in
Indonesia and East Timor saying the "Committee remains convinced that human rights
and democratic pluralism in Indonesia must be awarded greater respect and protection by
the Indonesia Government and every effort must be made by the Government to ensure that
human rights abuses, torture, political intimidation and harassment are completely
curtailed not only in East Timor, but throughout Indonesia."
On December 7, 1975, Indonesia brutally invaded East Timor. The following July 17, East
Timor was illegally but formally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th
province." The UN and most of the world's countries do not recognize this act, and
the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more
than 200,000 one-third of the population have been killed by the Indonesian
The East Timor Action Network/US was founded in November 1991, following the massacre
of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports genuine
self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor in accordance with the UN
Charter and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. ETAN has 20 local chapters.