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Sample Letters to the Editor on Current Crisis in East Timor

Three sample letters to the editor for use during the Santa Cruz massacre anniversary. Improve them. Adapt to your own words. Mix and match. Share your letters: Let us know what you send and what gets published.

Letters to the editor are often the most widely-read section of newspapers. Be sure to include your full name, address, and telephone number. Keep your letter to about 200 words. If possible, include a local angle or respond to an article or opinion published in the paper. Timeliness is best, so the sooner you submit your letter, the better. Contact John M. Miller, etan@etan.org or 718-596-7668, if you'd like some help.

For Publication
 
To the Editor,
 
November 12 mark(s/ed) the 15th anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. In the United States, this was the first time many had heard of the small country which had been invaded and occupied by Indonesia with U.S.-backing and military assistance in 1975.

Witnessed and filmed by western journalists, the 1991 killing of hundreds of peaceful pro-independence demonstrators, led to a global outcry which finally resulted in East Timor's independence three and half years ago.

However, justice for the victims of the massacre and their families remains elusive. Ignoring the recommendation of East Timor's truth commission, the U.S. refuses to press for the creation of an international human rights tribunal to try those responsible the Santa Cruz and other massacres that took the lives of up to a third of East Timor's pre-invasion population.
 
In the U.S., we must confront our own government's complicity in East Timor's tragic history. We can begin to make amends by never forgetting that all too often U.S. foreign policy has aligned us with oppressive regimes -- like the one in Indonesia which so devastated East Timor -- and working to make sure that similar tragedies do not occur.
 
Sincerely,
 
NAME ADDRESS DAY PHONE
 


For Publication
 
To the Editor,
 
On November 12, we remember the 1991 massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters in then Indonesian occupied East Timor. What does this 15-year old tragedy have to with us? Plenty!

Indonesia invaded the small country after the U.S. gave its go ahead at a meeting between Indonesia's dictator and then-President Gerald Ford. Despite massive human rights violations leading to the deaths of  up to 200,000 East Timorese, the U.S. continued to supply weapons and other military assistance. This began to change in 1991 as public pressure grew in response to film footage of the massacre.

East Timor is now independent, thanks in part to the pressure. But the new nation remains troubled, with much unfinished business, including the failure to hold accountable the Indonesian officials most responsible for the traumatic events during the Indonesian occupation.

Taking its cue from East Timor's truth commission, the U.S. should work actively for an international human rights tribunal to bring to justice the generals and other leaders who gave the orders which lead to the deaths, torture and rape of thousands of East Timorese. By doing so, the Bush administration and the new Congress would demonstrate a commitment to justice and begin to redress the many years of active U.S. support for the occupation.
 
Sincerely,
 
NAME ADDRESS DAY PHONE


For Publication
 
To the Editor,
 
Fifteen years ago, Indonesian soldiers using U.S.-supplied weapons opened fire on peaceful protestors in occupied East Timor. This massacre of hundreds of mostly young demonstrators was filmed by western journalists. Their eyewitness accounts led to international outrage and stepped up pressure on East Timor's Indonesian occupiers and the countries, like our own, which backed them.

As result of that outcry, East Timor is now free, gaining its independence after a UN-organized vote in 1999 which ended in one last orgy of killing and destruction by retreating Indonesian forces. Even now, East Timor's people have yet to see justice for 24 years of systematic rights violations that took place during Indonesia's 24-year long occupation.

The Bush administration and the new Congress should work actively for a UN international human rights tribunal to try those most responsible for organizing the brutal oppression of the East Timorese. Such a policy would demonstrate a commitment to justice during the anniversary of this notorious massacre and help to redress the years of active U.S. support for the occupation.

East Timor's truth commission, after thoroughly documenting, East Timor's tragic history during the occupation, recommended an international tribunal. In addition, the commission recommended reparations to victims from countries like the U.S. which backed the occupation and from corporations which profited from selling weapons to Indonesia during that period. It also urged that countries refrain from providing support to Indonesia's military until it was thoroughly reformed and respected human rights.

The U.S. government should implement these recommendations to demonstrate its commitment to justice and human rights on this important anniversary.

Sincerely,
 
NAME ADDRESS DAY PHONE
 


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