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ETAN at 20






Press Release and Report from first demonstration at Indonesia Mission to the UN  

Human Rights Protest at Indonesian U.N. Mission Press Release - Dec 9, 1991.

Emergency Action Coalition on East Timor

On Tuesday, December 10, representatives of organizations involved with human rights and social justice will take their concerns about continuing repression in East Timor to the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations. If a requested 1:00 p.m. meeting with Indonesian officials is not granted, the representatives will picket outside the Mission from 1:00 to 2:00. At 2:00, human rights activists will conduct a press conference in front of the Mission, which is at 325 East 38 Street, Manhattan.

  We urge Indonesia to allow outside investigators to visit East Timor, so that witnesses can speak without fear and the world can learn what really happened in Dili on November 12. The killings and arrests must stop, and East Timor must determine its own political future. The United Nations and the United States are also responsible.

As part of International Human Rights Day, the organizations will express strong opposition to recent killings in East Timor, which has been occupied by the Indonesian military since December 7, 1975. In that time, close to 200,000 of the territory's 700,000 people have been killed.

On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops fired U.S.-supplied M-16s into a memorial service in Dili, the capital of East Timor, killing 100-200 people. Several foreign journalists (including Allan Nairn of the New Yorker magazine and Amy Goodman of WBAI radio) witnessed and filmed this slaughter, which has generated widespread outrage, including a U.S. Congressional resolution, a cutoff of Dutch aid to Indonesia, boycotts by Australian Labor unions, and calls for an investigation by the European Community and many other entities.

Indonesian officials deny responsibility, blaming the massacre at various times on the mourners, Portugal, human rights workers, or the media, and calling for the "extermination" of Timorese people who express discontent with Indonesia's military rule. The Indonesian government is conducting an internal "investigation," but has refused to allow United Nations, press, non-governmental, or other impartial observers to investigate the November 12 slaughter. Authoritative sources report continuing killing and imprisonment of witnesses.

Charles Scheiner, of National Mobilization for Survival, expressed the human rights concerns: "We urge Indonesia to allow outside investigators to visit East Timor, so that witnesses can speak without fear and the world can learn what really happened in Dili on November 12. The killings and arrests must stop, and East Timor must determine its own political future. The United Nations and the United States are also responsible: the U.N. should enforce 1975 and 1976 General Assembly resolutions which invalidate Indonesian rule in East Timor; and the United States, which supported the Indonesian invasion from the beginning, should suspend military and economic aid to Indonesia, which receives more than $50 million of our tax dollars every year."

In addition to Mobilization for Survival, the delegation will include representatives from the War Resisters League, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the National Committee for Radiation Victims, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Sane/Freeze International, and several other human rights organizations.

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by Charles Scheiner

On December 10, 17 demonstrators picketed and leafletted outside the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations in New York City from 1 to 2 pm. The peaceful demonstrators, carrying signs saying "Stop the Killing," "No More Massacres," "Indonesia out of East Timor,' and "Stop U.S. Aid to Indonesia" also chanted and called out to passers-by.

Although press had been alerted, no media showed up. The Indonesian Mission, which had been asked a week earlier for a meeting at this time, was clearly bothered by our presence. Although they refused to let me in the door at 1:00, at 1:45 someone came out to invite me in, and I had a cordial conversation with a Third Secretary who gave me some press releases and explained that nobody there was authorized to discuss substantive matters. The Ambassador is away until the 16th, and the ranking Minister/Counselor had decided to stay at the U.N. during the lunch break (not surprising, since she knew we were coming).

The picketers, who came from the Westchester People's Action Coalition (WESPAC), the War Resisters League, Mobilization for Survival, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, SANE/Freeze International Office, and other groups, are committed to further public action in support of East Timor and to pressure the U.S. government to oppose Indonesia's occupation.

The leaflet which was distributed had Anthony Lewis' "Realism and Evil" column on one side, and the following text on the other:

Today is International Human Rights Day.

There are no human rights for people in East Timor, which the Indonesian military has brutally occupied for sixteen years. On November 12, the Indonesian army shot their U.S.-supplied M-16's into an unarmed, peaceful, memorial procession.

They killed over 100 mourners and severely beat several foreign journalists. Since then, they have killed and arrested dozens of witnesses. They still refuse to allow impartial international investigators into East Timor to see what happened.

Since 1975, Indonesia has been responsible for the deaths of 200,000 people -- one-third of the population -- in East Timor.

Their Mission to the United Nations is at 325 East 38 Street, New York City, 10016. Visit, write, or call them at 972-8333.

Demand that they stop arbitrary murder and imprisonment of people in East Timor. The United States provides Indonesia with $50 million each year, including weapons and military training.

Our government has not questioned their occupation and genocide. Write Secretary of State James Baker III, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington DC 20520. Insist that the U.S. support U.N. resolutions calling for Indonesian withdrawal and internationally-supervised self-determination for East Timor's political future.

Our country needs money to help our own people, not to kill others far away. Write your Congressperson at House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515, and Senators Daniel Moynihan and Alfonse D'Amato, Washington, DC 20510. Call them at (202)224-3121. Urge them to suspend all aid and weapons sales to Indonesia until East Timor is safe and free.

Richard Koch on Dec.11. wrote:

First, a report on the demo at New York. About fifteen people showed up. We picketed and leafleted outside the Indonesian mission to the UN for about an hour. Prior to the demo, Charlie Scheiner had requested a meeting with the Indonesians but could not get a response. After about 45 minutes someone from the mission came out and asked for Charlie. Charlie talked to them for something like fifteen to twenty minutes but they didn't say much. He thought they were upset that we were having the demo.

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"Abroad at Home" column on the New York Times op-ed page by Anthony Lewis, December 6, 1991.

Sixteen years ago this week Indonesian troops invaded East Timor, a Portuguese colony on an island north of Australia. They crushed the local independence movement, which was about to take over as Portugal left, and annexed the territory.

The United States turned a blind eye to that bloody act, and to years of murderous repression that followed. So did the other major powers. Indonesia had a free hand, and used it cruelly. Of the 750,000 people in East Timor, between 100,000 and 200,000 were killed or died of hunger and disease.

Why have we done nothing about such massive inhumanity? Why have we not put pressure on Indonesia, a recipient of much American aid?

Whenever I asked such questions over the years, State Department officials told me that it was not "realistic" to object loudly and strongly to Indonesia's butchery in East Timor. That would only anger President Suharto and his Government, they said. The best hope was quiet diplomacy -- not to get Indonesia out of the territory but to persuade it to behave more reasonably.

The effectiveness of that "realistic" policy was demonstrated last month in Dili, the Timorese capital. At 8 A.M. on Nov. 12 Indonesian soldiers fired without warning into a group of young people marching into a cemetery to protest other killings. The Roman Catholic Church said that more than 100 were killed.

This massacre was different from others in East Timor in one important respect: Western journalists were there and saw it. Two American writers walking alongside the marchers were themselves injured. A courageous British television cameraman filmed the whole thing. The footage, which was shown in part by CBS in this country, is grisly viewing.

Indonesian authorities said the soldiers had fired "in fear of their lives." But that and other evasions were unpersuasive in the face of testimony by witnesses that it was a deliberate, unprovoked massacre.

President Suharto appointed a commission to investigate. But a commission of Indonesians is hardly likely to persuade anyone of its good faith.

What is needed right now -- urgently needed -- is obvious. It is to have observers from the outside world on the scene in East Timor to check on the human rights situation and prevent any further loss of life.

The need is urgent because reports filtering out since the massacre say that military repression and brutality are worse than at any time since the 1975 invasion.

East Timor is small and far away. Indonesia has counted on that -- counted on the world not caring. It has closed the territory to outside visitors for most of the times since 1975.

The United States of all countries should care, and act. For it has had a responsibility from the beginning.

The day before Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, President Ford and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, were in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, while on an Asian tour. Mr. Kissinger knew that the Indonesians might well move on East Timor, but he chose not to warn them against invading. Brent Scowcroft, who was President Ford's national security advisor then, later explained why:

"It was fundamentally a matter of recognizing reality. ... It made no sense to antagonize the Indonesians. ... East Timor was not a viable entity."

The Indonesian forces used arms received from U.S. aid in the invasion -- which violated American law. That was pointed out to Mr. Kissinger in a cable sent to him from the State Department while he was abroad. When he got back, he excoriated his aides for letting the cable go out.

"I know what the law is," Mr. Kissinger told a meeting of top State Department officials on Dec. 18, 1975, "but how can it be in the U.S. national interest for us to ... kick the Indonesians in the teeth?"

So far, such "realism" has permitted the death of up to 200,000 people in East Timor. More are dying all the time.

Indonesia has no legitimate reason to be in East Timor at all -- no more than Iraq had to be in Kuwait. American policy should be to end the occupation. But the immediate requirement is to get international observers on the ground and stop the killing.


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