Subject: NGOs urge Congress to support self-determination
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 17:48:57 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

The following letter, signed by representatives of 59 NGOs, was sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee urging them to co-sponsor and actively support a committee vote on H.Con.Res. 258. The resolution supports self-determination for East Timor and a similar one has already passed the Senate.

September 23, 1998 U.S. Representative International Relations Committee U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative,

The undersigned representatives of arms control, human rights, labor, religious, veterans, and peace and justice organizations urge you to co- sponsor and actively support a committee vote on H.Con.Res. 258. This resolution, currently assigned to both the Asia and Pacific and Human Rights Subcommittees in International Relations, expresses House support for an internationally supervised referendum on self-determination in East Timor.

H.Con.Res. 258 currently has 80 co-sponsors, and was introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey, Human Rights Subcommittee Chair Christopher Smith, and Human Rights Caucus Chairs John Porter and Tom Lantos.

This resolution states that the U.S. "should support an internationally supervised referendum to determine the political status of East Timor." It further recognizes "the need for direct Timorese participation in the United Nations-sponsored tripartite talks" and calls upon the U.S. to "work actively, through the United Nations and with its allies, to realize the directives of existing United Nations resolutions on East Timor."

This resolution is very timely, given the much publicized but limited progress made in recent UN-sponsored talks. East Timor's leaders have rejected further agreements between Indonesia and Portugal on "limited autonomy" unless they stipulate a referendum to follow. Bishop Carlos Belo, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from East Timor, has recently stated, "The people want a referendum… and I'll go along with what the people choose." In addition, confidence-building measures during any period of negotiated autonomy leading up to a referendum must include verifiable and substantial troop withdrawals (recent withdrawals were primarily for public relations, and were followed by the arrival of more troops into East Timor), and the release of all political prisoners (only 25 of some 350 have been released). Direct Timorese participation in the negotiations on their political status is vital, and we strongly encourage the release of jailed leader of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Xanana Gusmao, to ensure their success.

Now is the crucial time for the House to pass H.Con.Res. 258. On July 10 of this year the Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution. The House version of the FY 1999 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill includes language stating committee support for "an internationally supervised referendum to determine a comprehensive settlement of the political status of East Timor." House passage of H.Con.Res. 258 would provide the added support necessary to move the U.S. administration into action and send an unmistakable message to the Habibie government. For, though we applaud the beginnings of reform in Indonesia, we also understand that this reform was bought at no small price by the Indonesian and East Timorese peoples, and international pressure remains imperative to ensure it continues.

Since the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, more than 200,000 people, over one third of East Timor's 1975 population, have been killed. Sadly, arbitrary arrest, torture, extra-judicial execution, and disappearance remain routine Indonesian military procedure. Each day still sees another human rights violation. Regular and systematic human rights abuses persist, reported from East Timor, and by the East Timor Human Rights Center, Amnesty International, and other respected international human rights organizations.

After almost 23 years of brutal occupation, the Indonesian reign of terror over East Timor must end. These long-suffering people deserve the basic right to self-determination, a vote, and that's all they're asking. All we're asking of you today is your co-sponsorship and support for H.Con.Res. 258 in the committee and on the House floor. Through this resolution you can help right a grave injustice and make a referendum in East Timor a reality. We thank you in advance.


Michael Amitay Director Washington Kurdish Institute

Sohail Ansari General Secretary World Sindhi Institute

Bama Athreya Program Associate International Labor Rights Fund

Mubarak Awad Chair of the Board Nonviolence International

Jeff Ballinger Press for Change

Medea Benjamin Co-Director Global Exchange

Mark Brown Assistant Director, Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Betty Burkes US Section President Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Robin Caiola Executive Director 20/20 Vision

John Chamberlin National Coordinator East Timor Religious Outreach

Gordon S. Clark Executive Director Peace Action

Tammi Coles Coordinator Washington Peace Center

Rev. Douglas P. Cunningham Pastor, Saint Luke's United Methodist Church of Woodlawn

Peter J. Davies U.S. Representative Saferworld

Rev. John Dear, SJ Executive Director Fellowship of Reconciliation

Rev. Stan DeBoe Director Justice and Peace Ministry of the Trinitarian Fathers

Rev. Dr. Thomas White Wolf Fassett General Secretary General Board of Church and Society The United Methodist Church

Lynn Fredriksson Washington Representative East Timor Action Network

William D. Hartung Senior Fellow Arms Trade Resource Center World Policy Institute

Peggy Hutchinson Assistant General Secretary Mission Contexts and Relationships General Board of Global Ministries The United Methodist Church

Elenora Giddings Ivory Director, Washington Office Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.]

Katherine Johnson Executive Director Methodist Federation for Social Action

Peter Juviler Co-Director, Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights

Dr. Najmaldin O. Karim President, Kurdish National Congress of North America

Rev. Ted Keating, SM Director for Justice and Peace Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Clifton Kirkpatrick States Clerk of the General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

James Matlack Director, Washington Office American Friends Service Committee

Bishop Felton Edwin May Baltimore - Washington Conference The United Methodist Church

Charles McCollough Associate for Church Empowerment Office for Church in Society United Church of Christ

Mary H. Miller Executive Secretary Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Scott Nathanson Acting Director Demilitarization for Democracy

John Oei, Coordinator Indonesian, Chinese, and American Network

Rev. Dr. Rodney Page Deputy General Secretary National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Maurice Paprin Co-Chairman Fund for New Priorities in America

Miriam Pemberton Director National Commission of Economic Conversion and Disarmament

Rev. Dr. Albert Pennybacker Associate General Secretary for Public Policy, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Constancio Pinto Representative to North America Acting Representative to the U.N. National Council of Timorese Resistance

Vanessa Ramos Secretary - General Asociacion Americana de Juristas

Anna Rhee Executive Secretary for Public Policy Women's Division The United Methodist Church

Rev. Peter Ruggere Maryknoll Fathers, Sisters, and Lay Ministers, Social Concerns Office

Charles Scheiner National Coordinator East Timor Action Network

Shaun Skelton Director Visions in Action

Morton Sklar Director, World Organization Against Torture USA

Nancy Small National Coordinator Pax Christi USA

Rev. Dr. Patricia Tucker Spier President Division of Overseas Ministries Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Edward W. Stowe Legislative Secretary Friends Committee on National Legislation

Rev. Max Surjadinata Pastor Mt. Vernon Congregational Church

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert California - Nevada Conference The United Methodist Church

Betty Tankersly Program Associate for Global Ministries United Church of Christ and Church (Disciples of Christ)

Ben Terrall Director East Timor Research and Relief Project

Kathy Thornton, RSM National Coordinator NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Ross Varitan Executive Director Armenian Assembly of America

Edith Villastrigo National Legislative Director Women Strike for Peace

Paul Walker President Veterans for Peace

Carol Welch International Policy Analyst Friends of the Earth, US

Phil Wheaton Director Conversion for Reclaiming Earth in the Americas

Kani Xulam Director American Kurdish Information Network

Boyd Young International President United Paper Workers International

Miriam A. Young Executive Director Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace

Alice Zachmann Director Guatemala Human Rights Commission USA

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