Vol. 3, No. 2 - Spring 1997

No F16's for Indonesia

Tensions Escalate in East Timor

ETAN Calls for Independent Observers

Victory for East Timor in Geneva

Elections, Suharto Style

Sanitized by the Nobel Prize

Isabel Galhos Tours the United States

Massachusetts Closer to Indonesia Sanctions

New Resources from ETAN

ETAN's New Field Organizer

Support East Timor in Your Community

Estafeta Homepage

Academic "Roadshow" Raises Awareness
By John M. Miller, Media and Outreach Coordinator.

Educational efforts in North America on East Timor and Indonesia received a major boost earlier this year with a series of academic conferences and other events organized by the Foundation of Portuguese Universities with support from ETAN.

In late February and early March, a two-week traveling "roadshow" of academic experts and activists from Europe, the United States, Indonesia and East Timor spoke on campuses in over a dozen cities. Participants provided a global perspective usually unavailable in the United States. Nobel Laureate José Ramos-Horta was the keynote speaker at a number of events.

The Indonesian government felt so threatened by the conference series that they sent embassy and consulate officials or their relatives to most of its events; some came from as far away as London or Jakarta to pepper participants with questions. At times, the repetition of the same questions and allegations bordered on harassment. In most places this Indonesian effort backfired, with audience members seeing through the effort to disrupt discussion rather than add to it.

The tour opened with a conference at Columbia University. In an event unique in the United States, seven East Timorese openly discussed options for the future of their troubled land. Participating in the discussion were Constâncio Pinto, João Saldanha (a graduate student at Harvard), Mari Alkatiri of Fretilin, João Carrascalão of UDT, and Bella Galhos. The Rev. Arlindo Marçal of the Protestant Church of East Timor and Armindo Maia, acting rector of the University of East Timor, also participated in the discussion and tour at some risk to themselves, offering their perspectives from inside the territory.

In Washington, Maia and Marçal offered moving testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Also participating in the hearing were Ramos-Horta and Dr. George Aditjondro, the Indonesian social scientist who chose exile in Australia rather than face stacked charges in an Indonesian court. Aditjondro also briefed the media and a number of key Congressional committee staffers on the involvement of key figures in the "Indogate" campaign finance scandal with the Suharto regime and East Timor.

Prof. Maia and Rev. Marçal ended their U.S. trip early to return home to Dili, fearing repression. They received threats and harassment upon their return. A few weeks later, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck visited them in Dili and urged the Indonesian government to protect their safety. Nevertheless, Maia's position at the university is being challenged, and he was physically attacked at his home on June 3 by a mob of pro-integration students.

Timorese participants in the tour (but not those still living in East Timor) testified before the Massachusetts state legislature.

Tour related events also took place in Cambridge; Camden, NJ; the Boston area; Baltimore; Cincinnati; San Francisco Bay area; Providence; New Haven and Fairfield, CT; and Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Also participating in the tour were Lojang Soenario, (founder, Watch Indonesia, Germany), Bishop Hilton Deakin (Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne; Chair, East Timor Human Rights Center, Melbourne), Jakarta-based Dr. Kastorius Sinaga (Director, Pact/Indonesia NGO Partnership Initiative), and Pedro Pinto Leite (Secretary-General of the International Platform of Jurists on East Timor). Professor Antonio Barbedo de Magalhães of Oporto University was the main Portuguese organizer of the tour, which was joined by several other Portuguese academics.

This was the first U.S. undertaking of a series of conferences and seminars begun in Portugal and now spreading worldwide. If you are connected with an academic institution which would like to participate, contact ETAN and we can put you in touch with the Portuguese sponsors.