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1994 Annual Report 

December 1994

The East Timor Action Network/United States supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1960 United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Decolonization, and Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on East Timor. Our primary focus is to change US foreign policy and raise public awareness to support self-determination for East Timor. 

The East Timor Action Network/United States was formed after November 12, 1991, when Indonesian soldiers massacred over 250 unarmed people at Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor. We believe that if U.S. and Indonesian policies on East Timor are ever going to change - even after 19 years of Indonesian occupation and genocide - international awareness of the tragedy must be converted into action. We agree with the East Timorese resistance that changing U.S. government policy is key to Indonesia's withdrawal from East Timor. 

During 1994, ETAN worked on many fronts. We will expand those directions and explore new ones in 1995.

Major campaign: the APEC summit

  • ETAN organized media outreach and protest activities before, during and after President Clinton's November visit to Indonesia for the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) conference.

  • We organized a press conference to release a pre-APEC letter from East Timorese resistance head Xanana Gusmão to President Clinton.

  • Our "Send Clinton a Message" campaign produced hundreds of calls and e-mails to the White House urging the President to raise the issue of self-determination when he met with Suharto. While in Jakarta, Clinton said "the people of East Timor should have more say over their own local affairs," the first time an American president has mentioned self-determination in public. This is a step forward, but falls far short of supporting an internationally-supervised referendum.

  • During APEC, we issued numerous action alerts, were a source for many media outlets, and generated public pressure on US and Indonesian officials to protect the 29 East Timorese who sat in at the US Embassy compound in Jakarta.

  • On November 16, ETAN activists committed nonviolent civil disobedience at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco to support the East Timorese in Jakarta. We continue to remind the media that, although the 29 have taken asylum in Portugal, hundreds of other East Timorese were arrested and "disappeared" after foreign journalists left or were expelled.

  • We were the link to the outside world for American reporters Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn, who were arrested when they tried to visit East Timor during APEC, and later entered secretly.

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Keeping the pressure on 

  • Organized vigils at Indonesian and US government offices across the United States. On December 7, the 19th anniversary of the invasion, we picketed every Indonesian embassy and consulate in this country.

  • Demonstrated outside and raised questions inside conferences organized by the Indonesian government and US corporations in New York, Seattle, Houston and elsewhere. ETAN was able to publicly question Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and key US government and corporate officials.

  • Began a "corporate campaign" to develop consumer and shareholder pressure on US companies that support the occupation of East Timor. We are starting with those who steal East Timorese oil (Chevron, USX Marathon and Oryx Energy), or actively lobby against Congressional initiatives on East Timor (Freeport MacMoRan).

  • Arranged public and media events with Helen Todd, the mother of Kamal Bamadhaj, who was the only foreigner killed during the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. Todd was just awarded $14 million by a Boston federal court in her lawsuit against one of the Indonesian generals responsible for the killings.

  • Leafleted Indonesian Independence Day celebrations in San Francisco and gamelan concerts in Boston, raising Indonesian awareness.

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Changing U.S. government policy

  • Held over 100 meetings with Members of Congress and their staffs. ETAN brought activists to Washington for an April week of lobbying, followed up by further meetings, faxes, and phone calls with the contacts we made there.

  • Successfully worked to continue the ban on US military aid to Indonesia that Congress passed in 1992. Although the House also banned the sale of military training, the Senate did not.

  • Persuaded Congress to outlaw the sale of small arms and riot control equipment to Indonesia. This came after an historic roll call in which the Senate refused to ban the use of all US-supplied weapons in East Timor. It is a step toward building bipartisan support in both Houses.

  • Helped develop proposed legislation limiting US and multilateral funding of Indonesia because the military dominates their economy, in violation of World Bank rules.

  • Injected the issue of Indonesia and East Timor into elections, especially the California Senate race.

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Providing resources and information

  • Published our quarterly Network News newsletter, which is sent to several thousand East Timor supporters worldwide.

  • Issued Action Alerts and press releases to help people respond quickly to emergencies and opportunities, and to prepare for major events.

  • Supplied background for Congressional staff, journalists and others who visited East Timor or Indonesia. ETAN put them in contact with semi-underground democratic movements. We also provide information to people inside who have little access to uncensored media.

  • Continued to work with video producers and distributors. ETAN sells and produces videos, and we handed out materials at many showings of the film Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. We also distribute books, pamphlets, and other educational materials, many of which are published outside the U.S. and hard to get here.

  • Arranged showings of John Pilger's new documentary Death of a Nation: Conspiracy in East Timor, which has so far been refused US television and film distribution.

  • Promoted the All in the Family CD - music by and about East Timorese people - reaching new constituencies.

  • Facilitated worldwide information distribution of fast-breaking news reports, background information and action alerts through the Internet.

  • Published periodic Documents on East Timor, a comprehensive compilation of reports and analyses. Subscribers include activist groups, journalists, governments and libraries around the world.

  • Wrote articles on East Timor for a wide range of publications. Op-ed pieces by ETAN activists have appeared in major newspapers, and we initiated programs on East Timor on NPR, CNN, and elsewhere.

  • Served as a contact point for people discovering East Timor and eager to learn more. By listing ETAN's address in various places, we receive "what can I do?" inquiries from all over the world. Alternative Radio's East Timor: A Case of Genocide has helped over 150 new people find ETAN.

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Building awareness and effectiveness

  • Provided videos and other resources to communities across the United States. We arranged numerous speaking dates for East Timorese representative Constâncio Pinto, journalists Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn, and others.

  • Developed a national network of ETAN groups, including Austin, Boston, Colorado, Houston, Los Angeles, Madison, New Jersey, New York, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, Sonoma and Washington DC. Each has organized programs and demonstrations.

  • Held our second national conference, where key activists from across the U.S. developed ETAN strategies and structure. We tightened our structure, so that ETAN can react quickly and democratically when decisions need to be made.

  • Strengthened ties with religious, human rights, labor, peace, social justice, media, Luso-American, Asian/Pacific-American, and other organizations. We are also working with Amnesty International on their Indonesia/East Timor campaign.

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Thinking and acting globally

  • Represented the International Federation for East Timor at the United Nations, including arranging meetings between Timorese and U.N. representatives.

  • Facilitated a meeting between U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and four members of Parliamentarians for East Timor from around the world.

  • Attended the Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor in Manila. When Indonesia leaned on the Philippine government to ban the conference (Manila deported a dozen people), ETAN's presence there and media outreach at home helped magnify the impact of this globally-covered event.

  • Testified at the United Nations Committee on Decolonization in July. ETAN arranged housing, clerical support and presenters for many of the 28 organizations from 11 countries who spoke.

  • Supported outspoken Indonesian professor George Aditjondro when he was threatened and interrogated by military officials. ETAN distributes Aditjondro's book on East Timor, and we hope to bring him to the United States to speak.

  • Helped with logistical support and contacts for East Timorese leaders when they visited the United States to meet the Indonesian Foreign Minister, for the Indonesia-Portugal negotiations and for other U.N.-related activities.

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"ETAN has been doing wonderful work, which I really appreciate very much, having been deeply involved in this issue since almost the beginning. Seemed pretty hopeless for a long time, but ETAN has made a tremendous difference, maybe even a decisive one." 
- Professor Noam Chomsky , M.I.T

East Timor Action Network/U.S. 

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