Subject: Madison Passes Sister City Ties with Ainaro

[Note: Shortly after 7 pm Tuesday, Feb. 20, the Madison, WI city council UNANIMOUSLY passed a resolution to make Ainaro, East Timor an official sister city of Madison.]

see also:
Letters of Support from Members of Congress
News reports on Sister City Project
Text of Resolution


Contact: Diane Farsetta, 608-663-5431 
Tom Foley, 608-241-9135

Madison-Ainaro relationship is first official U.S. East Timor sister city

Just after 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 20, the Madison Common Council voted unanimously to establish the first official U.S.-East Timor sister city relationship between Madison, Wisconsin, and Ainaro, East Timor.

"International solidarity with East Timor is especially important now as the East Timorese face the difficult tasks of reconstruction and nation-building," said Madison-Ainaro Sister Alliance member Tom Foley. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and Rep. Tammy Baldwin contacted the council in support of the sister city resolution. Feingold called the partnership "invaluable", and Baldwin stated "person-to-person contacts are critically important in building a peaceful world community."

The Southeast Asian island nation of East Timor will likely become independence within the year after voting overwhelmingly for independence in 1999. However, the military did not leave the country peacefully following the 1999 referendum on independence from Indonesia. According to the United Nations, the Indonesian military and its militia destroyed 70 percent of all buildings in East Timor and forced three-quarters of the population from their homes.

Ainaro, a mountain town in the southwest of the country, was especially hard hit by the violence. Over 95 percent of the buildings in Ainaro were leveled, including the only hospital and all the town's schools. East Timor is currently under U.N. administration.


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Text of Resolution


To establish a sister city relationship with the Town of Ainaro, Ainaro District, East Timor.

SPONSORS: Mayor Susan Bauman, Ald. Barbara Vedder, Ald. Jose Sentmanat, Ald. Judy Olson, Ald. Jean MacCubbin, Ald. Steve Holtzman, Ald. Matt Sloan, Ald. Ken Golden, Ald. Kent Palmer, Ald. Gary Poulson and Ald. Mike Verveer

WHEREAS, Madison has a long history of engagement with the people of East Timor (including advocating to end human rights abuses in East Timor; hosting East Timorese community leaders, women's rights activists and medical workers in Madison; visiting East Timor both during and following the period of Indonesian military occupation; providing much-needed medical aid to East Timor; observing the United Nations-organized referendum for independence in East Timor in 1999; and engaging in cultural exchanges of music, traditional weavings and coffee), and;

WHEREAS, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and East Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta has called for a street in the capital, Dili, to be renamed "Wisconsin" in recognition of the existing relationship between these two areas, and;

WHEREAS, the people of East Timor suffered greatly under a twenty-four year long occupation by the Indonesian military (Amnesty International and Catholic Church sources report that at least one-third of the population of East Timor was killed during the occupation), and;

WHEREAS, following the 1999 referendum for independence, the departing Indonesian military engaged in a scorched-earth campaign, destroying seventy percent of all buildings nationwide, according to the United Nations, and;

WHEREAS, international solidarity with East Timor is especially important now as the Timorese face the difficult tasks of national and material reconstruction and establishing an independent country, and;

WHEREAS, the community of Ainaro, East Timor was especially hard hit by 1999's violence, with over ninety-five percent of its buildings destroyed, including the only hospital and all the town's school buildings, and;

WHEREAS, the people of Ainaro have asked international friends to join them in a sister relationship and have welcomed the Madison community as their sistering partners, and;

WHEREAS, Madison residents have already visited Ainaro, established person-to-person ties and delivered school supplies, and;

WHEREAS, agriculture is important to the Ainaro region, as it is to Wisconsin, and;

WHEREAS, there is widespread support in both the Ainaro and Madison communities for mutually beneficial exchanges of information, ideas and skills in such areas as agriculture, construction, women's issues, information technology and cooperative business practices, and;

WHEREAS, the people of Madison have a long and noble tradition of furthering peace, understanding, cooperation and democracy through sister city relationships,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mayor and the Madison Common Council do hereby undertake to establish a sister city relationship with the Town of Ainaro, Ainaro District, East Timor.

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Letters of Support from members of Congress

see also: letter from Senator Russ Feingold


Congress of the United States 
House of Representatives 
Washington, DC 20515-4902

January 11, 2001

Mayor Susan J.M. Bauman 
210 Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard 
Madison, Wisconsin 53709-0001

Dear Sue,

I am writing to express my support for creation of a Sister City relationship between Madison and Ainaro, East Timor.

Madison has a long tradition of engagement with people and communities around the world. Our community has reached out to others in Nicaragua, Colombia, and many other places throughout the world, sharing our cultural heritage, our technical expertise, our compassion, and the necessities of life. These experiences continually enrich our lives. I strongly believe these community-to-community connections are incredibly valuable to all who engage in them.

I understand the City Council is considering a Sister City relationship with Ainaro, East Timor. Ainaro was devastated by Indonesian military-backed militias leading up to and after the referendum on independence in August 1999. Today, Ainaro is struggling to rebuild both its infrastructure and its community. I strongly believe that Madison has a great deal to offer Ainaro in its renewal.

One final reason I believe a Sister City relationship between Madison and Ainaro should be created is the central rote that activists from our community played in bringing the situation in East Timor to the world's attention. The Madison Chapter of the East Timor Action Network was among the first in the nation and Madison activists have been at the forefront of this movement from the very beginning.

Thank you for considering this request. I firmly believe that person-to-person and community- to-community contacts are critically important in building a peaceful world community. A Madison-Ainaro Sister City relationship would serve us all well.



Tammy Baldwin 
Member of Congress

cc: Members, Madison City Council

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United States Senate 
Washington, DC 20510

January 24, 2001

Madison City Council 
Common Council Office 
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd 
Madison, WI 53710

Dear Members of the Madison City Council,

I write to express my support of sister-city relationships, and specifically of the Madison-Ainaro Sister Alliance (MASA) resolution to establish such a relationship between the city of Madison and the town of Ainaro, East Timor. These partnerships build the bridges of understanding that help us to overcome perceived differences and learn invaluable lessons through cultural exchange.

Building global cooperation is essential to solving the complex problems facing the international community. In order to strengthen this cooperation it is important for countries to establish partnerships both at the highest levels of government and at the local levels between the people within individual communities. Sister-city relationships offer communities in the United States and other regions of the world the important chance to learn from one another, to provide each other with economic opportunities, and to exchange ideas and solve problems together.

In my work as a Member of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I have found that local-level exchanges between East Timorese and Americans have been integral in providing policy makers and the public with a greater understanding of Fast Timor, the problems facing it, and how the U.S. and East Timer can help each other.

Right now, the East Timorese face many extraordinary challenges, including rebuilding communities that were completely destroyed in the violence that followed the August 1999 referendum, and making the transition to independence. The assistance that sister-city partnerships can offer to the East Timorese at this time could be invaluable. I am pleased to hear about MASA's efforts to establish a sister-city partnership between Madison Wisconsin and Ainaro Fast Timor. I hope that you will give this proposal fair and fun consideration.



Russell D Feingold 
United States Senator

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