ISSN #1088-8136

Vol. 7, No. 3
Winter 2001-2002


East Timor Elects Assembly

Ashes to Ashes: Reflections on Terror

ETAN to Kissinger

ETAN Marks Anniversaries

September 11 Aftermath Brings Shifts

Lobby Days 2001 Yields Info, Action

Phillips Petroleum & Canberra Play an Old Game

ETAN Tour Spotlights Refugee Crisis

President Megawati: Bad News for Timor

Court Issues $66 Million Judgment Against Indonesian General

A Letter from Dili

About East Timor and the East Timor Action Network

Estafeta Winter 2001-2002

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ETAN Marks Anniversaries with Nationwide Actions

by John M. Miller and Diane Farsetta

On September 6, ETAN chapters marked two dark anniversaries for East Timor with vigils and other actions, including a press conference with members of Congress in Washington, DC. These actions drew attention to the ongoing refugee crisis and the need for an international tribunal, and demonstrated the continued commitment of rights activists and supportive Congressional offices to justice and security for East Timor.

September 6 is the anniversary of the Indonesian military-led massacre in 1999 in the town of Suai, East Timor, one of the worst after East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence. The date is also the anniversary of the murder — a year later — of three United Nations refugee workers and others by military-backed militia in Atambua, West Timor.

Across the country, ETAN chapters and members organized actions in 21 cities. Demonstrations took place at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC, and the Indonesian consulates in Chicago and San Francisco. Vigils for the refugees were held in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Atlanta. In Tempe (AZ), Seattle, Bloomington (IN), St. Louis, Ithaca and Stony Brook (NY), Providence (RI), and New Orleans, ETAN members did local outreach and education and urged members of Congress to co-sponsor resolutions calling for an international tribunal for East Timor. ETANers also wrote letters to the editor and op-eds, which were published in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Capital Times (WI), Hartford Courant (CT), and elsewhere. ETAN staff and members also spoke to various media on the day’s historical context and its contemporary relevance.

Senator Tom Harkin (IA) and Representative Jim McGovern (MA) spoke at the Washington, DC press conference. With Senator Jack Reed (RI), they visited East Timor in August 1999 just before the UN-organized referendum. Senator Reed and Rep. Lane Evans (IL) provided statements for the conference. On September 6, some two weeks after the members of Congress visited Suai, the Indonesian military led a brutal attack on refugees sheltering in the town’s churchyard, killing at least 200 people (including nuns and priests) as part of its larger scorched earth policy.

Senator Harkin is the chief sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 9, which calls for “the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity” carried out by the Indonesian military in East Timor. Rep. Evans is the main sponsor of the companion House Concurrent Resolution 60 (see for a complete list of sponsors).

Speaking of those killed at Suai and elsewhere, Rep. McGovern said: “In so many ways, we in the United States and the international community failed them. ... If we are to honor their memory, then we must not fail them again.” Senator Reed stated that “those who have committed these awful human rights violations against the people of East Timor will be brought to justice.”

Senator Harkin promised to block any attempt by the Bush administration to provide military funding to Indonesia unless a tribunal is established. “If they want to re-establish military aid to Indonesia and spend U.S. taxpayers’ money without us having a say, they're sadly mistaken,” he said.

Rep. McGovern called for the U.S. to provide “aid to East Timor that directly benefits the people of East Timor . . . and involves them directly in the decision-making process on how best to target our aid.”

The September 6 anniversaries highlight the need for international action on the refugee crisis and for an international tribunal. It is ironic that the three United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) workers in Atumbua, West Timor – including U.S. citizen Carlos Caceres – were hacked to death and their bodies set on fire by rampaging militia exactly one year after the Suai massacre. The attack, the worst ever on the UNHCR, resulted in an evacuation from West Timor. To this day most international aid agencies have not returned. The resulting lack of clean water, food, medicine and oversight has worsened the refugee’s plight. And even though six militiamen confessed to the Atumbua attack, Indonesian courts sentenced them to prison terms of only 10 to 20 months.

For more information, visit www.etan. org/news/2001a/09cong.htm


Forum on Santa Cruz maasacre.
On November 12, the 10th anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre, ETAN sponsored a forum in New York City with (from left) attorney Michael Ratner (co-counsel on a successful lawsuit against an Indonesian general); East Timorese activist Constancio Pinto (organizer of the 1991 demonstration), journalist Amy Goodman and ETAN's John M. Miller. Other events took place across the country and around the world. At least 271 people were killed when Indonesian troops opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor in 1991.


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