|A New Era in East Timor||
Legislation Supporting Rights of East Timorese Voted Into Law
On Monday, July 27, The City Council of Cambridge, Massachusetts, voted unanimously to approve a resolution which regulates city contracts with companies involved in the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Passage of this bill, cosponsored by Cambridge Mayor Frank Duehay and four City Councilors, means that the city will no longer do business with any companies which have sold military equipment to Indonesia, or have been drilling or prospecting for oil or natural gas in the Timor Gap. This decision makes Cambridge the second city in the nation, after Berkeley, California, to enact a selective purchasing resolution in support of East Timor. Among the companies effected are Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Textron, Chevron, USX/Marathon, Royal Dutch Shell, Phillips Petroleum, and their subsidiaries and parent companies.
East Timorese Resistance Representative Constâncio Pinto spoke at the meeting. Applauding the councils decision, Pinto said, "this resolution sends a strong message to the corporations involved that they can no longer ignore their complicity in the human rights violations that take place in East Timor." Representatives from the Catholic Church and the Portuguese community also spoke in favor of the resolution.
The Berkeley resolution, approved last spring, has a much broader scope, requiring the city to divest its funds from most companies that have dealings with Indonesia, with exceptions for "fair trade" companies, humanitarian relief and medical aid.
Selective purchasing resolutions are an effective way of putting pressure on companies connected to the continuing occupation of East Timor, as well as of sending a strong message of support to the East Timorese. On the state level, such resolutions have recently come under attack by corporate interests and the World Trade Organization. A group of corporations under the banner of the National Foreign Trade Council is suing Massachusetts over the states law regulating state contracts with companies doing business in Burma. If the Burma law is struck from the books, all selective purchasing legislation will be threatened.