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Sample Press Release for August 30

Use this release to approach the local press about doing a story on East Timor. Use the presence of local activists (or folks who were in East Timor for the vote) to provide a local "angle" to the story -- this may pique the media's interest! For those who have been to East Timor, spice up the sample release below with a brief anecdote or two from your experience there.

Good luck! Contact John with questions and let him know about any coverage you generate -- 718-596-7668 or john@etan.org.

For Immediate Release

YOUR CONTACT HERE (with phone) 
John M. Miller (718) 596-7688; john@etan.org

Anniversary of East Timor Vote Offers Opportunity for Reflection on U.S. Foreign Policy

East Timor Action Network Says U.S. Bears Responsibility for Country's Destruction

The East Timor Action Network/name of your city here urged that Wednesday's anniversary of East Timor's pro-independence ballot be a date for reflection on U.S. foreign policy and a time to reaffirm support for the world's newest nation.

"For more than two decades, the U.S. armed and supported Indonesia's brutal occupation of East Timor. Now that East Timor is free, we urge the U.S. to continue its new policy of supporting a just and peaceful future for the newly independent nation," said _______of ETAN/___________.

"We challenge the current administration and candidates for President and the Congress to assure East Timor's security by opposing the renewal of military ties with Indonesia and to acknowledge our country's role in Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation of East Timor," added ______________.

"The U.S. should support an international tribunal to insure the prosecution of those military and militia leaders responsible for last year's post-ballot destruction of East Timor. Speedy justice is essential for peace and reconciliation in East Timor and for democracy in Indonesia," added __________.

On August 30, the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence in a plebiscite organized by the United Nations. Following the vote, Indonesian troops and their militia proxies destroyed 70% of the country's infrastructure, killed at least one thousand, and forced hundreds of thousands more into camps in Indonesian-controlled West Timor. On September 9, the U.S. suspended military ties with Indonesia. Soon after, the Indonesian began to military withdraw from East Timor and an international peacekeeping force entered.

East Timor Action Network spokespersons and observers of last year's vote are available for comment. To arrange an interview contact the numbers above.

Indonesia recently amended its constitution to bar the use of new stronger laws to prosecute past human rights abuses. Indonesian, East Timorese, and international organizations responded by arguing that an international tribunal is now the only option to bring military and militia leaders responsible for atrocities in East Timor, and throughout the Indonesian archipelago, to justice.

In July, the U.S. military began military "re-engagement" with Indonesia by conducting a joint exercise with Indonesian troops. Since then, Indonesian military-backed militia have increased cross-border raids into East Timor, killing two U.N. peacekeepers and several East Timorese. Militias have also forced U.N. agencies to abandon their activities in refugee camps in West Timor where some 100,000 East Timorese remain virtual hostages.

The Indonesian military invaded neighboring East Timor on December 7, 1975, hours after a state visit to Jakarta by then President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. According to human rights groups, over 200,000 East Timorese -- one-third of the population -- were killed in subsequent years as the U.S. provided weapons and political support under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

The East Timor Action Network/ U.S. (ETAN) was founded in November 1991 to support East Timorese self-determination. ETAN now works for a peaceful transition to independence in East Timor. It has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S.

For additional background, see ETAN's website www.etan.org.

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