ETAN on the Life of Dr. Dan Murphy

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ETAN on the Life of Dr. Dan Murphy
Contact: John M. Miller, Coordinator, ETAN; +1-917-690-4391,

Dr. Dan at the Bairo Pite Clinic.
Dr. Dan sees a patient at the Bairo Pite Clinic. Photo courtesy of Medical Aid to East Timor.
April 16, 2020 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) joins the people of Timor-Leste in mourning the loss of Dr. Dan Murphy. For more than two decades, he dedicated his life and skills to protecting the health and well-being of the Timorese people, often operating without government support. Dr. Dan died of a heart attack in Dili on April 14. He was still treating patients the morning before died.

His courage, commitment and outspokenness will long remain an inspiration to all who knew and worked with him. 
Dr. Dan rose to prominence in 1999 after Indonesia refused to renew his visa to continue his work at the Motael Clinic in Dili, where he treated victims of Indonesian military and militia assaults during the lead up to Timor’s vote on independence. He had been featured prominently in international media in April after the Liquica massacre. On July 4, he participated in a relief convoy for Timorese taking shelter in Sare, southwest of Dili.

Dr. Dan Murphy will be missed, but his legacy will remain as many Timorese medical personnel who trained with him have stepped up to continue the critical work of the BPCL [Bairo Pite Clinic Lahud].”
Medical Aid to East Timor

Back in the U.S., ETAN helped him raise the alarm about Indonesia’s assaults on the Timorese people. When he returned to Timor in late September of 1999, he began collecting medicines and seeing patients at an abandoned building in Dili. With support of Timorese and international volunteers, this became Bairo Pite Clinic. 

Dr. Dan was born on September 23, 1944, in Alton, Iowa. He received his medical degree from the University of Iowa in 1971. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Carrying out his belief in justice, Dr. Dan ran health clinics for farmworkers in California and in rural Mozambique. In 1998, he left the family practice he co-founded in Iowa to move to Indonesian-occupied Timor-Leste, bringing with him his passion to help the poor and a love of basketball. In 2015, Dr. Dan published
Breakaway, an autobiography of his love of hoops and his life before arriving in Timor-Leste.

Bairo Pite sign.
Bairo Pite Clinic. Photo courtesy of Medical Aid to East Timor.  
He often returned to the U.S. for fundraising, to visit family, and to encourage Timorese studying at U.S. schools, equally concerned about those studying medicine and those studying other subjects.
He also helped to build solidarity between Timor-Leste and the U.S. (as well as many other countries) by providing internships and volunteer placements for people from the U.S and elsewhere.


Our condolences to Dr. Dan's family, friends and colleagues.

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working in solidarity with the peoples of Timor-Leste (East Timor), West Papua and Indonesia. ETAN provides information about, and ways to help, Timor-Leste, which was invaded and subjugated by U.S. ally Indonesia in 1975, and which finally attained independence on May 20, 2002. ETAN educates, organizes and advocates for justice for historic and ongoing crimes against humanity; for human rights and democratic development.

see also Medical Aid to East Timor


Jose Ramos-Horta on ETAN

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