|A New Era in East Timor||
In May, four ETAN chapters held protests in solidarity with the Indonesian pro-democracy movement, urging Suharto to step down. New York and San Francisco were lucky enough to time them a after the aging dictator actually did so, adding a celebratory feel to the proceedings. In July, chapters also protested "Integration Day" (July 17), the Indonesian governments official anniversary of the "incorporation" of East Timor into the New Order. Throughout the spring and summer, U.S. ETAN activists worked to get their representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 3802 and H.Con.Res. 258. Other details follow.
In the spring, ETAN/Arizona screened the seminal East Timor documentary "Death of a Nation" and hosted Constâncio Pinto and ETAN field organizer Kristin Sundell. ETAN/AZ also joined Students for a Free Tibet in protesting at Henry Kissingers visit to Arizona State University, distributing pamphlets that appeared to welcome Kissinger but actually detailed his record of shame with various unflattering quotes. ETAN/AZ member Craig Johnson got his pamphlet autographed by Kissinger (the aging war criminal didnt even read it!), then asked "HK" about his role in the 1975 invasion of East Timor and US policy. Many in the audience booed and Kissinger didnt seem too happy; several newspaper reports described the ruffling of Henrys feathers.
ETAN/DC took part in three demonstrations in May, the first two before Suharto stepped down. An event organized with Amnesty International and others, and another with the cooperation of local Indonesians, each drew over 100 activists and good press coverage. Two days later ETAN/DC diehards were inspired by the students in Jakarta to hold yet another demonstration, smaller but still lively. Under the watchful eye of several secret service agents (who declined to participate in our action), ETAN brought thirty people to the Indonesian Embassy on July 17th. Several busloads of tourists driving by Dupont Circle looked excited to see an actual protest.
ETAN/Chicago followed its exciting April regional activist training conference with a May 19 demonstration in solidarity with the Indonesia pro-democracy movement at the local Indonesian consulate. The chapter also organized a July 17 demonstration at the consulate featuring an appearance by the flag of the new Resistance umbrella group the CNRT. ETAN/Chicago also supported an August protest condemning attacks on ethnic Chinese in Jakarta.
ETAN/New York held demonstrations the day after Suhartos departure and on Integration Day, when two dozen people, including members of the Portuguese-American solidarity group LAMETA, demonstrated and leafleted outside the Indonesian Mission to the UN. CNN, RTP-USA (Portuguese-American TV), WBAI radio and Portuguese journalists were present. For the first time, we were graced by a counter-demonstration of about 10 Indonesians, who handed out leaflets from Forum Pemuda Pemudi Indonesia (Indonesian Youth Association) and giving their version of "The Truth About East Timor." The Indonesians refused to answer questions from WBAI, RTP or the Portuguese journalists. Despite being from a Youth group, many of them looked a bit on the older side, casting doubts on the spontaneity of their activism.
On May 21, ETAN/San Francisco held a demonstration cosponsored by Indonesia Alert! and Global Exchange. A good time was had by all, though Indonesian speakers present described Habibie as representing Suhartoism without Suharto. A July 17 drew about 75 people, including many ethnic Chinese Indonesians incensed about the rapes of Chinese women in Jakarta. ETAN members emphasized that the same sort of terror witnessed in Java in May has been practiced in East Timor since 1975. John Chamberlin of East Timor Religious Outreach lead a moment of silence for all victims of the Suharto regime in East Timor and Indonesia, and a message from East Timorese activist Bella Galhos was read aloud.
Throughout the summer ETAN/SF has worked in solidarity with the Indonesia, Chinese and American Network (ICANET) and the Bay Area Group on Indonesian (BAGI); members of both ICANET and BAGI joined ETAN/SF in successfully lobbying Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee.
ETAN/Madison staged a July 17th demo that featured talks by Senator Russell Feingold and Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive. Street theatre threw passersby for a loop and left them wondering about U.S. foreign policy.
ETAN/Los Angeles held a demonstration outside the Indonesian consulate on July 17. KPFK radio characterized it as a "loud and lively" affair, complete with colorful posters and banners calling for an end to the Indonesia-U.S. partnership in crime in East Timor. The demonstration ended with a rally on the Consulate steps, the delivery of a letter to the Consul General calling for Indonesia to pull its troops out of East Timor and to support a referendum.
On June 5 ETAN/Boston picketed President Clintons appearance at the MIT commencement ceremony. A Suharto impersonator supported us by singing a scathing kleptocratic version of Sinatras "My Way." The demonstration was kept far from the graduation site, but Clintons motorcade drove past it. Also in June, the Boston suburb of Brookline passed legislation declaring general support for East Timor, and José Ramos Horta met with ETAN members to talk over the current situation in Indonesia and East Timor. In July the Cambridge City Council passed selective purchasing legislation. ETAN/Boston let our collective hair down by holding a soiree at which everyone enjoyed themselves and $300 were raised.
In August, Indonesian PRD activist Edwin Gozal was hosted on a U.S. tour by Solidarity; ETAN chapters in several cities met with him and/or co-sponsored events.