||US News & World Report Outlook
Letters to the Editor
November 30, 1998
THE ARTICLE ON EAST TIMOR ["Joy in the Jungle, At Last,"
November 9] did not mention that an Indonesian withdrawal from East Timor and
self-determination there might depend on Washington's pressuring Jakarta. When Indonesia
attacked this former Portuguese colony in 1975 mostly using U.S. weapons it
did so with U.S. approval. Despite atrocities against civilians, the United States
remained Indonesia's main weapons supplier. It is estimated that, by the early 1980s,
200,000 or more East Timorese civilians out of a pre-invasion population of 650,000
had been killed. Public pressure during the 1990s has caused the U.S. government to
restrict weapons transfers to, and military training for, the Indonesian government.
Public pressure caused the U.S. Senate this past July to unanimously pass a resolution
calling on the president to work actively for an internationally supervised referendum in
which the people of East Timor would choose their own political status, and the House of
Representatives added its support when Congress recently approved the omnibus
appropriations bill. The public should pressure President Clinton and the State Department
to put these fine words into action.
East Timor Action Network
Forest Hills, N.Y.
AS A YOUNG EAST TIMORESE living in the United States, I was so elated to learn that
after years of war, East Timor finally may win autonomy. We cannot ignore the reality that
my fellow East Timorese suffered while their Indonesian occupiers practiced abominable
acts, but we can take lessons from that history to make this world a better place.
CLARANCE EVAN DALE SANTOS
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