ISSN #1088-8136

Vol. 7, No. 3
Winter 2001-2002


East Timor Elects Assembly

Ashes to Ashes: Reflections on Terror

ETAN to Kissinger

ETAN Marks Anniversaries

September 11 Aftermath Brings Shifts

Lobby Days 2001 Yields Info, Action

Phillips Petroleum & Canberra Play an Old Game

ETAN Tour Spotlights Refugee Crisis

President Megawati: Bad News for Timor

Court Issues $66 Million Judgment Against Indonesian General

A Letter from Dili

About East Timor and the East Timor Action Network

Estafeta Winter 2001-2002

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About East Timor and the East Timor Action Network

Estafeta is the Portuguese word for messenger. In East Timor, it identifies people who, with great courage and ingenuity, carried messages throughout the resistance and civilian underground during the Indonesian occupation.

East Timor is a half-island the size of Massachusetts, 400 miles northwest of Australia. It was a Portuguese colony for four centuries, and its 600,000 people briefly tasted independence following the anti-fascist Portuguese revolution in 1974.

On December 7, 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor after getting the “green light” from President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger. Indonesian armed forces occupied East Timor until October 1999, with essential military and diplomatic support provided by the United States.

Between 1975 and mid-1999, more than 200,000 East Timorese people (one-third of the pre-invasion population) were killed by massacre, forced starvation and disease. Systematic campaigns of rape, murder, torture and arbitrary arrest terrorized the population. Natural resources (including oil, coffee and marble) were pillaged by Indonesian dictator Suharto’s military-business complex.

Suharto ruled Indonesia brutally for 32 years (and oversaw genocide in East Timor for 23). But the Indonesian people forced him to resign in 1998, and the Habibie government allowed the East Timorese to vote. On August 30, 1999, after nearly a quarter-century of brutal Indonesian rule, 78.5% chose independence.

Following the vote, the Indonesian military and their militias carried out their threats of retaliation. Thousands were killed. More than three-quarters of the people were displaced from their homes, more than a quarter-million taken forcibly to Indonesia. Most towns and houses in East Timor were leveled.

East Timor is now under a UN-administered transition to nationhood. But around 100,000 people have still not been able to return, and those who have face a mammoth task of reconstructing their country from scratch. Not only must they design their political system, they have to find their families, build their homes, salvage their society, and travel the difficult road from occupation through aid-dependency to self-sufficiency.

International awareness of the horror of East Timor increased after November 12, 1991, when Indonesian soldiers acting under high-level orders killed more than 270 nonviolent demonstrators at Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili. Unlike many previous massacres, this one was witnessed by foreign journalists, who documented the incredible courage of the demonstrators — and the horrific inhumanity of the Indonesian army.

The East Timor Action Network was created in response to the Dili massacre. ETAN is a grassroots movement of more than 10,000 members, with local chapters in 27 cities and states. We have worked for human and political rights for the people of East Timor and for Indonesians who are struggling for democracy in their country.

East Timor is now under UN administration on the way to self-government and will declare independence on May 20, 2002. ETAN is supporting the transition and working to enhance empowerment, democracy, and development in East Timor, as well as supporting efforts to advance democracy in Indonesia.

ETAN embraces tactics from public education to protest, lobbying to local organizing, diplomacy to development, resource production to media work. Our pressure was instrumental in beginning to stem the flow of U.S. military support to Indonesia in 1992, and we have worked to maintain limitations on such aid since then. Our grassroots pressure blocked numerous weapons sales to Indonesia, and President Clinton’s belated cutoff of all U.S. military support in September 1999 opened the way for the Indonesian military’s withdrawal. We will continue to pressure Indonesia until all East Timorese have been allowed to return home, the Indonesian military has allowed democracy in areas remaining under its influence, and those responsible for crimes in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 have been held accountable.

ETAN is made up of people just like you who contact their representatives in Washington, protest, and educate others in the community about the situation in East Timor and Indonesia. We survive on your generous donations of time, talent and money. Please join us. And thank you.

ETAN needs your support, click here.

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