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1997 Annual Report

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.

1997 was a watershed year for East Timor. The issue of East Timor dominated U.S.-Indonesia relations and the United States Congress passed a law restricting the use of U.S.-supplied weapons in East Timor. Escalating repression and resistance inside the occupied territory and throughout Indonesia proper drew world attention to the injustice there.

The year began with the Nobel Peace Prize for East Timorese Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and resistance spokesman José Ramos-Horta, and ended with embarrassments to Indonesian dictator Suharto at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Canada. In between, the campaign contribution scandal investigation exposed attempted Indonesian manipulation of Washington policy, and fraudulent Indonesian parliamentary elections dramatized the autocratic nature of Jakarta’s regime. Increasing international awareness of exploited Indonesian labor and the region-wide environmental disaster caused by human-made fires in Indonesia brought much-needed attention to the world’s fourth-largest country. At year’s end, the near-collapse of Suharto family-crony capitalism undermined the last rationale for U.S. financial, military, and political support for the dictatorship in Jakarta.

1997 was key for the East Timor Action Network as well. We underwent a major expansion, hiring three permanent staff and opening a Washington office and a field organizing office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although transforming ourselves from an all-volunteer organization was not without risk, our gamble has paid off. Public awareness, grassroots activism, and progress in changing U.S. policy have grown much faster than during our first six years.

Throughout the year, ETAN 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 six years ago, following the November 12, 1991 massacre at the Santa Cruz cemetery, when Indonesian soldiers killed over 250 unarmed East Timorese demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. We believe that if U.S. and Indonesian policies on East Timor are ever going to change — even after 22 years of occupation and genocide — international awareness of the tragedy must be converted into action. We agree with political observers and the East Timorese resistance: Changing U.S. government policy is key to Indonesia’s withdrawal from East Timor and to achieving East Timorese self-determination.

During 1997, ETAN our mailing list grew from 4000 to 6800. We have new chapters in Philadelphia, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Atlanta, and increasing activity in Arizona, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Houston, Indiana, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Madison, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington , DC. ETAN also has chapters at colleges across the United States.

In September, we held a national meeting, tightening our structure and developing several new campaigns. Building on the success of our ongoing six-year endeavor to stop U.S. military support for the Jakarta regime, we are beginning a new campaign to challenge U.S. economic support for Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor with national, state and local legislation and activism.

Next year, ETAN will also organize a series of issue and skills training conferences for activists in various regions of the United States. We carried out three national speaking tours in 1997, and with more planned in 1998. In addition, ETAN (together with the Asia-Pacific Center and Global Exchange) will employ East Timorese leader Constâncio Pinto to help with our educational and public policy work. Constâncio’s persuasive and compelling presence, amplified by our grassroots network and facilitated by our skilled and committed staff and volunteers, will be a critical element in moving Washington to actively support human rights and self-determination for East Timor’s long-suffering people. Twenty-two years is enough.

Changing U.S. government policy

Led the successful fight to enact unprecedented legislation barring the use of U.S.-supplied weapons in East Timor. The 1998 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act includes a provision sponsored by Senator Leahy which not only implicitly recognizes the separateness of East Timor from Indonesia but could virtually halt all U.S. weapons sales to the Suharto regime.

Helped stop U.S. military aid to Indonesia. Congress banned U.S. training aid for Indonesian soldiers in response to grassroots pressure in 1992, but partially restored it in 1995. This year the training aid was eliminated again after Suharto rejected it in response to criticism from Congress and the U.S. public.

Continued to oppose all weapons sales to Indonesia. Stanley Roth at his confirmation hearing for the position of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, reconfirmed the State Department’s commitment to the expanded small arms ban to Indonesia, which includes armored vehicles and helicopter-mounted weapons. ETAN had opposed Roth’s nomination because of his ties with the Suharto regime.

Helped to prevent the sale of nine F-16 fighter jets to Indonesia. Fearing defeat in Congress, Suharto abandoned this deal in June, after a year of heavy lobbying for the sale by President Clinton and his aides.

Opened our Washington office, with Lynn Fredriksson as full-time representative, to maintain ongoing contact with key Congressional and State Department personnel

Brought a dozen activists from around the country to Washington for our fourth annual "lobby days." We met with more than 80 congressional offices during an intensive April week and continue to make such visits throughout the year. Local activists also met with Representatives, Senators and staffers in their districts. We trained participants in Peace Action’s March "Spring Cleaning" lobby days, which included the F-16s as a primary focus.

Encouraged and supported numerous congressional letters, resolutions and other legislative vehicles, including the Howard Berman/Patrick Kennedy provision in the State Department Authorization bill. This bill, which passed the House but did not survive conference committee linked aspects of future U.S. training and weapons sales with human rights improvements in both Indonesia and East Timor.

Facilitated a hearing of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, where Nobel Laureate José Ramos-Horta and academic and religious leaders living in East Timor testified about the human rights situation there.

Encouraged U.S. sponsorship of a strong resolution on East Timor that was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

Broadened the Washington debate on East Timor to include self-determination as well as human rights. This will be a focus of our work in 1998.

Keeping up the pressure

Demonstrated at all six Indonesian government facilities in the U.S. on the November 12 anniversary of the Dili massacre in coalition with Peace Action, Amnesty International, East Timor Religious Outreach and other groups. Several of the actions included educational programs and/or nonviolent civil disobedience. This was the first time all six diplomatic outposts of Indonesia faced simultaneous protests.

All year, we organized or supported numerous pickets and vigils at Indonesian and U.S. government offices, including Peace Action’s March 17 "die in" at Indonesia’s Washington embassy in which 31 people were arrested.

Generated emergency support for ETAN Washington Representative Lynn Fredriksson when she was arrested in Dili on November 12, after she observed a mass student commemoration of the Santa Cruz massacre. Lynn was detained for 24 hours, then expelled from the country. She had spent two weeks in Jakarta and East Timor witnessing Indonesian repression and the devastation of the occupation.

Worked with American, international and Indonesian movements campaigning against sweatshop labor, environmental devastation, economic oppression, anti-democratic practices and other injustices enforced or permitted by the Suharto regime. ETAN activists joined many protests at Niketowns across the U.S.

Provided testimony, expertise, and grassroots support for a selective purchasing bill before the Massachusetts State Legislature. If enacted in 1998, this law will restrict the State from investing in or buying from companies which do business with Indonesia. Similar bills have been introduced in Rhode Island and several cities.

Refined our "corporate campaign" to bring pressure on U.S. companies that support the occupation of East Timor. We raised questions inside the Texaco annual shareholder meeting. We are educating people about and challenging the Indonesian activities of other oil (e.g., Chevron, USX Marathon, Phillips Petroleum, Mobil), mining (e.g., Freeport McMoRan) and sporting goods (e.g., Nike, Reebok) companies which support Indonesia’s dictatorship.

Providing resources and information

Published three issues of Estafeta. The latest issue of our newsletter went to more than 7000 East Timor supporters worldwide.

Provided leads, background information, and tips for journalists and congressional investigators exploring the campaign finance scandal. We continue to stress the bipartisan nature of U.S. government support for Suharto.

Issued a number of Action Alerts by fax, e-mail, and postal mail. We are developing local telephone trees to reach people quickly.

Distributed press releases, photographs, backgrounders, columns and other information to many media contacts, and organized several media receptions and press conferences. Part-time staffer John M. Miller develops media contacts and keep them supplied with information.

Dozens of ETAN activists published op-eds or letters to the editor in major newspapers and magazines and spoke on radio talk shows. We suggested authors and provided background material for a special issue of The Progressive magazine focusing on U.S.-Indonesia relations.

Supplied information to Congressional and State Department staff, the UN Secretariat, and journalists and others visiting East Timor or Indonesia. We also inform people in Indonesia and East Timor who have little access to uncensored media.

Responded to requests from people all over the world eager to learn more about East Timor.

Distributed printed and audiovisual resources, including many that are hard to obtain in the U.S. ETAN organized book-signing events for several authors in various cities. Write for our complete literature list.

Conducted workshops at numerous national and regional activist, human rights, student and religious conferences hosted by other groups who now include East Timor among their concerns.

Managed several Internet mailing lists for news and discussion on issues related to East Timor, Indonesia and West Papua. (Send a blank e-mail to timor-info@igc.apc.org for details on these lists and the many World Wide Web sites on East Timor. ETAN is preparing our own web site, which will be launched in early 1998.)

Building awareness and effectiveness

Supported a dozen-city tour by a 20-member delegation of experts and academics, including East Timorese and Indonesians, sponsored by the Foundation of Portuguese Universities. Jakarta was so threatened by this endeavor that they sent several East Timorese collaborators to North America to shadow and harass the participants.

Held speaking events, receptions and interviews for Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta during his several 1997 visits to the U.S.

Organized an 18-day, nine-state tour in February for Isabel Galhos, a young East Timorese woman who defected to Canada in 1995. In cooperation with Global Exchange, Bella and ETAN field organizer Kristin Sundell brought East Timor’s reality to thousands, sparking new activism.

Brought East Timorese human rights activist Nina Maria da Costa here from Australia for a 16-state tour in November. Nina was paired with activists working for labor and democratic rights in Indonesia proper.

Arranged speaking engagements for Ploughshares activist Andrea Needham in December. Andrea is one of four women who were acquitted by a British court after nonviolently disarming a British Hawk warplane destined for Indonesia.

Provided videos, photo exhibits and other resources to college and community groups across the U.S. ETAN has several professionally-produced exhibitions which are available for showings in your community.

Strengthening the movement

Covered the country: Field Organizer Kristin Sundell, based in Cambridge, spent more than half her time on the road, visiting 50 cities in 21 states. At each stop, she met with local ETAN members, other activists, and community leaders to build a lasting base for East Timor organizing.

Worked with emerging East Timor support groups in the religious, labor and Portuguese-American communities in several cities. In Washington, we have strengthened our relationships with arms control, labor, academic, religious and human rights groups.

Continued our work with the Asia-Pacific Center for Justice and Peace, the National Council of Churches, East Timor Religious Outreach, several Catholic bishops, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and other religious organizations. ETAN Field Organizer Kristin Sundell led workshops at national religious conferences.

Held a national ETAN Steering Committee meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, in September, attended by more than 50 people. We revised our structure to provide for more gender balance and shared responsibility, and adopted several exciting new programs. Between meetings the Steering Committee functions mostly by e-mail. We created a six-person Executive Committee for day-to-day decisions, and are in the process of incorporation.

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.

Several ETAN activists visited East Timor and/or Indonesia during 1997, bringing back first-hand observations, organizing ideas and feedback from those most affected by Indonesia’s occupation.

Participated in international conferences in Portugal, Canada and elsewhere with academics and East Timor support groups.

Built on our success in curtailing U.S. arms sales to Indonesia to initiate an International Declaration to End All Military Support for Indonesia, which is being circulated worldwide. We also supported the Nobel laureates initiative for an international Code of Conduct on weapons sales.

Strengthened ties with groups working on other human rights and self-determination struggles including Nigeria, Burma, Tibet, Taiwan, and Kurdistan.

Testified at the United Nations Committee on Decolonization. ETAN arranged housing, clerical support and presenters for more than 30 petitioning organizations from around the world.

Helped with logistical support and contacts for East Timorese leaders visiting the United States.

Financial Report

Since the beginning of 1997, ETAN/US has had two full-time (Washington Representative Lynn Fredriksson and Field Organizer Kristin Sundell) one part-time (Media and Outreach Coordinator John Miller) paid staffers. Our National Coordinator and many other active volunteers and interns work without pay. In addition to our office on Capitol Hill, we use donated national (White Plains) and field organizing (Cambridge) offices. Consequently, we are able to accomplish much more than most groups with a $161,000 annual budget. The figures below are for national ETAN; local chapters raise and spend their own money. (Note: Our $29,000 deficit was covered by money raised during 1995-96.)

Because of our major expansion this year, our budget expenditures tripled those for 1996, and we drew on our nest egg raised in previous years. But for 1998 and beyond, we must become self-sustaining. Your support is vital!

Financial Report, Calendar Year 1997

Category

Income

Expense

Net

Rent

 

$3,200

($3,200)

Sales

$16,621

$13,468

$3,153

Grants

$49,000

$668

$48,332

Donations

$21,152

$2,631

$18,521

Printing

 

$2,863

($2,863)

Postage

 

$2,752

($2,752)

Phone & internet

 

$7,661

($7,661)

Speaking tours

$11,286

$10,443

$843

Miscellaneous

 

$2,997

($2,997)

Supplies

 

$2,952

($2,952)

Personnel

 

$52,503

($52,503)

Travel

 

$5,146

($5,146)

Estafeta

$829

$9,206

($8,377)

Office startup costs

 

$4,064

($4,064)

Port. Univ. tour

$32,968

$33,036

($32)

National conference

 

$4,407

($4,407)

TOTAL

$132,056

$160,997

($28,941)

(The educational work of ETAN is a project of the AJ Muste Memorial Institute which can accept tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more. Other donations should be made out to "ETAN.")

ETAN gratefully acknowledges recent support from the following foundations: Mailman Foundation, Ruben and Elisabeth Rausing Trust, Samuel Rubin Foundation, Solidago Foundation, Threshold Foundation and Vanguard Public Foundation.

East Timor Action Network/U.S. 
Post Office Box 1182 
White Plains, New York 10602 USA 
tel. 1-914-428-7299 fax 1-914-428-7383 
e-mail admin@etan.org 

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