ISSN #1088-8136

Vol. 8, No. 1
Spring 2002

East Timor Achieves Hard-won Nationhood

Changes and Challenges in Washington

The Women of East Timor Demand Justice

A Dangerous Oil Slick

Documents Detailing Role of Kissinger and Ford in 1975 Invasion Released

Ten Years for Justice and Self-Determination

ETAN Continues Refugee and Justice Campaigns

About East Timor and the East Timor Action Network

Spring 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 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 a quarter-century of brutal Indonesian rule, 78.5% of the East Timorese people chose independence.

Following the vote, the Indonesian military and its militias carried out their threats of retaliation. Thousands were killed. More than three-fourths of the people were displaced from their homes, a quarter-million taken forcibly to Indonesia. Most towns and houses in East Timor were leveled.
East Timor has finally achieved independence. But tens of thousands of people have still not been able to return home, and those who have face a mammoth task of reconstruction. Their country’s judicial, educational and health care systems are severely underdeveloped, and the East Timorese people are frustrated that the Indonesian military officers most responsible for their country’s destruction have not been brought to justice.

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 and key contacts around the country. 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.

Since East Timor has now moved from UN rule to self-government, ETAN work is focused on helping achieve justice for crimes committed in East Timor and the return of forcibly displaced refugees. We support grassroots democracy and sustainable development in East Timor.
ETAN embraces tactics from public education to protest, lobbying to local organizing, diplomacy to development, resource production to media work. We helped stop U.S. military training aid to Indonesia in 1992, and have maintained limitations on such aid ever since.

Over the years, our grassroots pressure blocked numerous weapons sales to Indonesia. We will continue to pressure the Indonesian and U.S. governments until all refugees have been allowed to return home and those responsible for crimes committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 have been held accountable. We will push for U.S. as well as Indonesian accountability.

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

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