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1996 Annual Report 

December 1996

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 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and campaigner José Ramos Horta of East Timor, is a turning point for the struggle for East Timorese human rights and self-determination. After enduring two decades of genocidal occupation, the people of East Timor are finally gaining well-deserved international recognition. 

In the United States, the Riady/Lippo/Clinton campaign contribution scandal exposed Indonesian corporate manipulation of U.S. foreign policy, to the detriment of the people of East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN is working to expose the involvement of U.S.-based and multinational corporations as well, and to make it clear that Washington's policy of acquiescing in genocide in East Timor spans parties and administrations. 

Increasing democratic activism in Indonesia itself, and resultant repression, also raised Indonesia's profile in the U.S., as did growing awareness of labor rights violations in Indonesian sweatshops making shoes for Nike and other U.S. companies. ETAN is working with groups and providing information to journalists and activists on a range of issues related to East Timor and Indonesia. 

Throughout the year, the East Timor Action Network/United States continued and expanded our efforts to change U.S. and Indonesian policy toward supporting the human and political rights of the people of East Timor. We were formed five years ago, following the November 12, 1991 massacre at Santa Cruz cemetery, when Indonesian soldiers killed over 250 unarmed people in Dili, East Timor. We believe that if U.S. and Indonesian policies on East Timor are ever going to change — even after 20 years of Indonesian occupation and genocide — international awareness of the tragedy must be converted into action. We agree with political observers and the East Timorese resistance that changing U.S. government policy is key to Indonesia's withdrawal from East Timor. 

During 1996, ETAN expanded our mailing list to 4000, with thousands more in ETAN local groups. We have a new chapter in New Haven, and increasing activity in Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Los Angeles, Madison, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas, Washington DC and elsewhere. ETAN also has chapters at colleges across the United States. 

During 1996, ETAN/US worked on many fronts, including those below. In 1997, we will hire permanent paid staff for the first time, expanding these directions and exploring new ones. We will begin the year with ETAN's first-ever paid staff — a field organizer, a Washington representative, and a local organizing support person.

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Changing U.S. government policy

  • Made numerous trips to Washington to meet with Congressmembers and their staffs. In April, we brought a dozen activists from around the country to Washington for a week of lobbying. Many ETAN local activists have met with Congressional representatives in their districts.
  • Worked to maintain the ban on U.S. military aid to Indonesia in effect since 1992. With the new Republican-controlled Congress, we were only able to keep a partial ban. Although U.S. military training aid for Indonesian soldiers is still barred, non-military training aid has resumed. In the first-ever House of Representatives vote on East Timor, 149 Congresspeople voted on June 11 to bar all U.S. taxpayer-funded training for Indonesian soldiers (272 opposed us).
  • Continued to oppose all arms sales to Indonesia. Worked with supportive Congressmembers to successfully persuade the State Department to expand the list of weapons banned for U.S. export to Indonesia to include armored vehicles. A prohibition on sale of small arms and riot control equipment was first reluctantly enacted in 1994 as a result of grassroots and Congressional pressure, and was expanded in 1995 to include helicopter-mounted weapons. It is now claimed by President Clinton as evidence that his policy has not been swayed by the Riady contributions.
  • Opposed the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Indonesia, which was deferred in 1996 but continues to be on the Clinton agenda. The F-16 debate has become a priority issue for many arms control and disarmament groups. Working Assets Long Distance made it one of their Actions in December, which will generate tens of thousands of calls to the White House.
  • Expanded and strengthened our relationships with arms control, religious and human rights groups. We helped catalyze an informal consultation of these groups which meets in Washington every few months, and is planning a coordinated legislative strategy for 1997.
  • Built support for the P. Kennedy-Lowey East Timor Human Rights Accountability Act in Congress, which would require that U.S. aid to Indonesia not further its occupation of East Timor.

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Keeping the pressure on

  • Organized numerous pickets and vigils at Indonesian and U.S. government offices.
  • Intensified our "corporate campaign" to bring consumer and shareholder pressure on U.S. companies that support the occupation of East Timor. Raised questions inside Chevron and Phillips Petroleum's annual shareholder meetings. We are working to raise awareness about the Indonesian activities of other oil (Chevron, USX Marathon, Phillips Petroleum) and shoe (Nike, Reebok) companies which support Indonesia's dictatorship.
  • Supported United Paperworkers International Union Local 7591 during their struggle with the management of the Trailmobile factory in Charleston, IL. Trailmobile is owned by the Gemala group, an Indonesian company headed by Edward Wanandi, whose family has close ties to the Indonesian regime and the East Timor occupation policy. The UPIU made East Timor a major issue in its eventually successful fight against Gemala's lockout.
  • Raised East Timor and Indonesia democracy issues during the U.S. election campaign. However, we declined an offer from the Dole-Kemp campaign for tickets to a Clinton rally where we could harass the President for his East Timor policy. We continue to stress the bipartisan nature of U.S, government support for Suharto.

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Providing resources and information

  • Published three issues of Estafeta. The latest issue of our newsletter went to more than 4500 East Timor supporters worldwide.
  • Issued Action Alerts by fax, e-mail, and postal mail encouraging people to respond quickly to emergencies and opportunities, and to prepare for major events.
  • Distributed press releases and other information to our growing list of media contacts. Dozens of ETAN activists had their op-eds or letters to the editor published in major newspapers and magazines and spoke on radio talk shows before and after the Nobel Prize announcement.
  • Held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington in October. This event featuring journalist Allan Nairn and East Timorese resistance representative Constâncio Pinto, was reported worldwide. By pointing out that the real issues in East Timor and Indonesia were genocide, occupation and repression, we helped shift the discussion of the campaign financing scandal to more serious questions.
  • Supplied background information to Congressional staff, journalists and others visiting East Timor or Indonesia. We also provide information to people in Indonesia and East Timor who have little access to uncensored media.
  • Helped produce the new book "East Timor's Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance," by Constâncio Pinto and ETAN activist Matthew Jardine. Now we are working with South End Press to get this moving story to as many people as possible.
  • Distributed other books, CDs, audio and video tapes, pamphlets, etc., many published outside the U.S. and hard to obtain here. Write us for our current literature list.
  • Published Documents on East Timor, a comprehensive bi-monthly compilation of reports and analyses. Subscribers include activist groups, journalists, governments and libraries around the world.
  • Responded to requests from people eager to learn more about East Timor. We receive "what can I do?" inquiries from all over the world.

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Building awareness and effectiveness

  • Organized a month-long U.S. speaking tour for Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos Horta, bringing him to communities and universities in a half-dozen states. During the May tour and a November visit, Ramos-Horta was interviewed by dozens of journalists and appeared on several national television programs.
  • Organized a three-week tour for Carmel Budiardjo, head of the London-based TAPOL Indonesia human rights campaign. In addition to East Timor, Carmel discussed her new book Surviving Indonesia's Gulag about her three years in Suharto's prisons. Her U.S. tour overlapped the Nobel Peace Prize announcement and generated significant media interest.
  • Provided videos, poster exhibits and other resources to colleges and communities across the United States.
  • Arranged theatrical showings of John Pilger's powerful film Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy in many cities, as well as distributing many copies of the videotape.
  • Arranged press interviews, private meetings and programs for visiting East Timor experts, including Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos Horta.

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Strengthening the movement

  • Held a national ETAN Steering Committee meeting in Washington in April. Although the Steering Committee functions mostly by e-mail, occasional in-person meetings are useful.
  • Conducted an extensive nationwide search for ETAN's first-ever paid staff. We have hired John M. Miller as our national media coordinator and local organizing support person, and Lynn Fredriksson to be our Washington Representative. We are in the final stages of hiring a field organizer, who will travel to help form and strengthen local ETAN chapters.
  • Worked with emerging East Timor support groups in the religious and Portuguese-American communities in several cities.
  • Worked with labor rights activists to highlight Nike's profiting from the same Indonesian repression that suppresses East Timorese freedom.
  • Joined with nationals and activists from the Burma, Tibet, Indonesia and Kashmiri struggles for democracy to help educate Americans about repression and freedom in Asia.
  • Continued our work with the Asia-Pacific Center for Justice and Peace, a Washington-based organization which brings together church-based advocacy groups, the National Council of Churches, East Timor Religious Outreach and other religious organizations.

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Thinking and acting globally

  • Represented the International Federation for East Timor (IFET) at the United Nations, including arranging meetings between East Timorese and U.N. representatives. We also work closely with Parliamentarians for East Timor.
  • Organized or joined with others at pickets of the Swedish and British Missions to the UN and an Australia Day celebration to support citizens of those countries who protest their governments' weapons sales to Indonesia.
  • Several ETAN activists joined a September human and labor rights delegation to Indonesia organized by Global Exchange. Some of these, and others, gained first-hand experience by visiting East Timor during 1996.
  • Participated in international conferences in Portugal, Australia and elsewhere with academics and East Timor support groups. We are helping to organize similar conferences in the United States for 1997.
  • Supported the participation of Ehito Kimura of the Asia-Pacific Center in the 2nd Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor in Kuala Lumpur, which was broken up by the Malaysian government.
  • Joined in the founding conference of Oilwatch in Quito, Ecuador. Oilwatch brings together activists and researchers worldwide to oppose the negative social, political and environmental effects of oil company operations in tropical forest areas (including East Timor, Nigeria, Burma, and many Latin American countries).
  • Managed Internet mailing lists for news and discussion on issues related to Indonesia and West Papua, as well as East Timor. These lists involve several hundred activists, academics and journalists all over the world. Send a blank e-mail to timor-info@igc.apc.org for details on them and the many World Wide Web sites on East Timor.
  • Testified at the United Nations Committee on Decolonization. ETAN arranged housing, clerical support and presenters for more than 20 petitioning organizations from around the world.
  • Helped with logistical support and contacts for East Timorese leaders visiting the United States.

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East Timor Action Network/U.S. 
e-mail admin@etan.org 

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