etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer For Immediate Release October 20, 1999

Indonesia's Repeal of Annexation of East Timor Only First Step
Safe Return of Refugees, End to Militia Activity and Prosecution of Rights Violators Are Priorities

The East Timor Action Network said today that the Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) unconditional repeal of its illegal annexation of East Timor is only a first step in respecting East Timor's overwhelming vote in favor of independence.

"Indonesia's new Parliament and President must now act to put relations with its neighbor on a peaceful footing," said John M. Miller spokesperson for ETAN. "Renouncing its claim to East Timor is only a first step," he added.

On Wednesday, the MPR repealed its legislation making East Timor Indonesia's 27th province as required May 5 UN agreement setting up East Timor's independence vote. The annexation was never recognized by the United Nations and actively resisted by the East Timorese.

"Indonesia's new parliament and president can build a peaceful relationship with its neighbor by taking responsibility for its past actions," said Miller. "It can start by assisting in the safe return of all those forced out of East Timor and by disbanding and disarming the militia it created and controlled. Indonesia must also cooperate fully with international investigations of human rights violations in East Timor and by holding for prosecution and trial Indonesian military officers and militia leaders responsible for the worst abuses since 1975," elaborated Miller.

In the days after the U.N. announced the result of the August 30, several hundred thousand East Timorese were forcibly removed from East Timor to West Timor and other areas of Indonesia as Indonesian troops and their militias rampaged through the territory. In the U.N.-organized vote, nearly 80% supported independence from Indonesia which invaded East Timor in 1975, annexing it the following year in a move never recognized by the United Nations.

"The refugee camps must come under international control. The militia and members of the Indonesian military now terrorizing the refugees should be removed from the camps and prosecuted, so that humanitarian aid workers can safely assist the East Timorese," said Miller. "No refugees should be moved elsewhere in Indonesia until all who wish to return home are able express their preference uncoerced," he added.

"Indonesia must also renounce all claims for compensation for any infrastructure or investment in East Timor," said Miller. "After two and one-half decades of looting its resources and murdering its people, it is the height of arrogance for Indonesia to demand anything from East Timor. Having left the territory in ruins, it is Indonesia which owes the people of East Timor, not vice versa," added Miller.

"Military assistance and non-humanitarian loans and aid must remain suspended. The U.S. -- which for so many years assisted Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor with weapons, training and political support -- can now help by keeping the pressure on Indonesia to assist in a peaceful transition to independence," said Miller.

On September 10, President Clinton announced the suspension of military assistance to Indonesia after the Indonesian military and their militias began a campaign of destruction in East Timor. Members of the Indonesian military -- in and out of uniform -- continue to train and direct the militia. Indonesia is refusing to fully cooperate with the U.N.'s investigation of human rights abuses.

The East Timor Action Network/US was founded in November 1991, following the massacre of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor in accordance with the UN Charter and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. ETAN has 25 local chapters.

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