etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

East Timor Action Network 1999 Annual Report

PDF Version

Protecting the right to vote
Strengthening U.S. government policy

Keeping up the pressure

Providing Resources and Information

Strengthening the movement

Thinking and acting globally

Mission Statement (1993-1999)

Financial Report, Calendar Year 1999


East Timor is free! The Indonesian military has been expelled, and a U.N. transitional administration is facilitating the emergence of the first new nation of the millennium. East Timorís victory came at a tremendous price. In September, after the East Timorese people overwhelmingly voted for independence, Indonesiaís military inflicted massive devastation, destroying more than 70% of the buildings and turning three-fourths of the people into refugees.

After belated international pressure forced Indonesia to accept an international force, East Timor resumed the path to freedom. Nearly all of the 300,000 who fled into the mountains have come back to their ravaged villages, although more than 100,000 of the 300,000 forcibly taken to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia have not been able to return by yearís-end.

East Timor resisted the brutal Indonesian military occupation for a quarter-century, at the price of more than 200,000 lives. Since 1991, the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) has stood beside them in the United States, advocating for their rights and for a reversal of U.S. complicity in the Indonesian occupation.

We challenged the U.S.-Indonesia military relationship, believing that Washington ó Jakartaís main international patron ó was the key to an end to Indonesiaís occupation of East Timor. Over the last eight years, we restricted the flow of weapons and training, and U.S. and Indonesian policy gradually improved. In May 1998, Indonesian activists ousted longtime dictator Suharto, who was deserted by his U.S. sponsors after the Indonesian economy collapsed.

In January, interim Indonesian president B.J. Habibie ó to defuse growing international
pressure ó said that if the East Timorese rejected a then-undefined autonomy plan, Indonesia would let East Timor go. Years of struggle by the East Timorese people and their supporters had raised the political and economic costs of continued occupation. In March and April, while Indonesian-sponsored atrocities escalated rapidly in East Timor, the U.N. negotiated an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal for the East Timorese to vote. The May 5 agreement for an August referendum left Indonesian troops responsible for "security" in East Timor ó a compromise we called a recipe for disaster.

During June and July, despite widespread militia and military intimidation, nearly every eligible East Timorese registered to vote. ETAN sent 50 election observers to East Timor as part of the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project. Other ETAN members went in other capacities. IFET and ETAN reported that Indonesian terror and intimidation prevented a fair campaign and alerted the world to East Timorese fears of a violent crackdown after the August 30 vote.

Displaying incredible courage and commitment, 98.6% of those registered voted on August 30. The U.N. announced the results five days later, amidst rapidly escalating militia and military violence. Nearly four out of five voted for freedom. Within days, the Indonesian military and their militias uprooted hundreds of thousands, demolished most of East Timorís infrastructure, and killed an unknown number of people.

Using our experience and national activist network developed through eight years of dedication to a cause many called hopeless, ETAN mobilized public and official pressure. Ten days after the vote, President Clinton suspended all U.S. military and economic support for Indonesia, and the World Bank and IMF suspended pending assistance. Three days later, President Habibie and General Wiranto allowed an Australian-led peacekeeping force into East Timor. The violence subsided, and the Indonesian troops began to withdraw.

East Timor is finally on its way to self-government, facing a whole new set of problems. They must reconstruct their society after 24 years of occupation, and they must also rebuild their houses and infrastructure, bring people home, and recover from trauma inflicted after the vote.

In addition to East Timorís independence, 1999 saw major moves toward democracy in Indonesia, especially in Aceh and West Papua. Although East Timor remains our principal focus, we will continue to support Indonesians working for human rights and democracy. Once again, the U.S. government will play a crucial role.

ETAN grew during 1999, enlarging our membership from 8,500 to 11,700. Paid staff went from three (Washington Representative Lynn Fredriksson, Field Organizer Kristin Sundell, and Media/Outreach Coordinator John M. Miller) to four, adding Washington Organizer Karen Orenstein. National Coordinator Charles Scheiner continues as unpaid staff. We also had a half-dozen invaluable full-time volunteers during the crucial July-September period.

In December, more than 50 ETAN activists gathered in Chicago for our National Steering Committee meeting. We committed to work to constrain powerful global and U.S. interests, and to support East Timorís right to choose its political and economic paths.

Much remains to be done. In the short term, East Timor needs emergency aid. Indonesia must allow the East Timorese held in West Timor and elsewhere to return home and must disband its paramilitary militias. The international community should hold the perpetrators of 24 years of slaughter and oppression accountable, wherever they live. The East Timorese must have the greatest possible say in their political and economic development.

This report highlights ETANís major activities during 1999 ó as we traveled with the people of East Timor in their final, painful year of Indonesian occupation. They pushed Jakarta, we pushed Washington, and people worldwide pushed the United Nations. It was difficult and costly ó but letís not forget to celebrate the victory. East Timor will soon be independent!

Protecting the right to vote

* Initiated, raised funds for, and coordinated the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP), which brought 130 volunteers from 22 countries to East Timor as the largest international observer delegation. IFET-OP placed teams in each of East Timorís 13 districts for a week or more before the vote.

* Recruited, selected and trained 52 people from the U.S. to go to East Timor as U.N.-accredited consultation observers. Pam Sexton, Joe Nevins, Will Seaman, Eric Piotrowski, Mulaika Hijjas, Mark Rhomberg, Garrick Ruiz, Charlie Scheiner, and many others, gave months of their time to this project.

* Distributed dozens of IFET-OP reports, press releases, open letters, and testimonies to U.S. and U.N. officials, and the media. We urged strengthening of the U.N. mandate to prevent military violence in East Timor before, during and after the vote. See for these materials.

* A hundred IFET-OP observers stayed in East Timor after most observers and journalists fled, relaying to the world the destruction around them. The last 30 were evacuated on September 6 and 7; they then pushed their governments to take action.

Strengthening U.S. government policy

* Actively worked with more than 50 Representatives and 25 Senators. We were pleased that Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) visited East Timor.

* Extended legislative victories from previous years, including the ban on U.S. export of small arms (including armored vehicles and helicopter-mounted weapons) to Indonesia, the effective prohibition of U.S.-supplied weapons in East Timor, and the ban on U.S. military training for foreign military units guilty of human right violations.

* Brought Liquica massacre survivor Francisco de Jesus da Costa to the U.S. in early May, along with East Timorese academic Vicente Soares Faria and former Indonesian military employee Manuel dos Martires. They testified about the massacre, Indonesian troop levels and militia-military collusion at two Congressional hearings, held press conferences in Congress and the U.N., and met with government, church leaders, U.N. officials, and human rights activists.

* Held our sixth annual "Lobby Days" in March and June. More than 100 grassroots lobbyists visited 300 House and Senate offices. In addition, more than a dozen volunteers spent weeks in Washington with ETAN.

* Facilitated a late September Congressional hearing featuring Xanana Gusmao, Jose Ramos-Horta, Emilia Pires, T. Kumar, Allan Nairn, Arnold Kohen, and high-level State Department officials.

* Drafted and campaigned for legislation (H.R.2895 and S.1568) to put binding conditions on President Clintonís temporary mid-September suspension of U.S. military and economic assistance to Indonesia. Many of their provisions were included in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. U.S. assistance to Indonesia is restricted until it assists in returning East Timorese held in West Timor, cooperates with investigations of human rights violations, and prevents militia attacks on East Timor.

* Continued the Congressional ban on IMET military training. Also worked for a similar ban on all related training (H.R.1063) which has yet to pass.

* Advocated and won U.S. government financial support for emergency aid and economic development for East Timor.

* Worked with the State Department, developing relationships with key officials and sharing information and critiques. ETAN and East Timorese leaders have met with officials from Secretary Albright on down.

* Organized and hosted Washington visits of more than 20 East Timorese leaders, as well as activists from Aceh, West Papua and Indonesia. Among the most prominent were Xanana Gusmao, Jose Ramos-Horta and Yayasan HAK head Aniceto Guterres Lopes.

* Monitored and participated in discussions of support for East Timorís emerging nation and economy with the World Bank, National Security Council, USAID and the Office of Transition Initiatives, as well as the Pentagon and Treasury departments.

Released documents showing that Social Safety Net Funding under the World Bank umbrella was illegally being used to support militia and campaign against the independence. We organized a campaign to pressure financial institutions.

Keeping up the pressure

* Organized emergency national demonstrations (often including civil disobedience) and national call-in days in response to the April massacres in Liquica and Dili. Distributed 10,000 copies nationwide of a four-page Emergency Action Alert within weeks of the massacres.

* Mobilized emergency responses to attacks or threats on Yayasan HAK (May and September) and a humanitarian aid convoy (July), Dr. Dan Murphyís deportation (August), Allan Nairnís arrest (September), escalating military violence (August), the devastation of East Timor (September), and the detention of East Timorese people in West Timor (October-December).

* Worked with U.S., international and Indonesian movements campaigning against sweatshop labor, environmental devastation, economic oppression, anti-democratic practices and other injustices enforced or permitted by the Jakarta regime.

* Supported local activists in Dartmouth (MA) to pass a town resolution supporting self-determination for East Timor. Similar resolutions passed in many nearby towns.

* Organized a daily vigil at the Indonesian embassy in Washington before and during the August 30 vote. Numerous demonstrations were held throughout the U.S. in September.

* Won a First Amendment lawsuit (with the Center for Constitutional Rights) against New York City to temporarily rename the street next to the Indonesian consulate as "East Timor Way" during the summer.

* Worked with journalist Terry J. Allen to expose the training of Indonesian soldiers at Norwich University in Vermont, and coordinated ETAN Executive Committee member Allan Nairnís talk at the school. Norwich is severing formal ties with the Indonesian military.

* Helped to expose Phillips Petroleum director (and University of Oklahoma president) David Borenís denial of payments to Indonesia for East Timorese oil after the August vote. Phillips is the principal U.S. company extracting oil and gas from the Timor Gap. ETAN worked with local organizers and stimulated communications between Phillips executives, activists and Timorese leaders.

Providing resources and information

* Published three issues of Estafeta, our national newsletter.

* Enhanced our web site,, as a frequently updated source of news and information about East Timor. Volunteer Frank Fitzgerald maintains the site. In September, ETANís web site was visited by more than 40,000 people a week.

* Issued numerous Action Alerts by fax, e-mail, and postal mail. Our network continues to grow as many other groups redistribute our materials.

Disseminated press releases, photographs, backgrounders, articles and information to reporters and editors, and organized more than a dozen press conferences. John M. Miller coordinates this part of our work. ETAN press materials were often published in East Timorese and Indonesian newspapers.

* During September, our most active staff and volunteers were featured or quoted in countless mainstream media articles and programs, reaching tens of millions. ETAN activists authored op-eds in major U.S. newspaper, wrote letters to the editor, and appeared on local and national radio and TV shows.

* Distributed printed and audiovisual materials, including much hard to find material. Ask for our resource list or see our website.

* Responded to numerous information requests about East Timor; wrote book chapters and other materials for publishers and groups worldwide.

* Conducted workshops and gave talks for the Student Peace Action Network, Solidarity, Amnesty International, and many other organizations and national conferences. We created a national roster of more than 30 speakers (mostly ETAN activists who were observers in East Timor). We provided speakers, videos and other resources to hundreds of college and community groups.

* During the Spring, ETAN organized speaking tours for East Timorese activists Luciano Valentin da ConceiÁao, Domingos Savio, Ezequiel de Oliveira, and Bella Galhos.

* Conveyed information between East Timorese leaders and U.S. officials. ETAN continues to consult regularly with East Timorese political and NGO leaders.

* Organized, with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the U.S. premiere of "Punitive Damage," a documentary about a successful federal lawsuit against an Indonesian general responsible for the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre.

* Managed internet mailing lists on East Timor, Indonesia and West Papua. Our East Timor action alert list reaches more than 5000 people. Hundreds of policymakers, journalists, and activists depend on our news lists, which distribute hundreds of articles every week.

* Worked for the release of journalist and ETAN leader Allan Nairn after his arrest by Indonesian troops in mid-September. ETAN provided support while he was underground in Indonesia and East Timor for four months, organized speaking events for him upon his return, and disseminated information he unearthed about ongoing U.S.-Indonesian military collusion.

* Organized support of outspoken American doctor Daniel Murphy, a volunteer in East Timor since November 1998. Before and after he was deported, ETAN pressed Indonesia to allow him to continue his life-saving work. In August, ETAN hosted him in Washington, New York and the Midwest. His first-hand accounts of escalating terror were invaluable.

Strengthening the movement

* Expanded our Washington office. Washington Representative Lynn Fredriksson maintains contact with key Congressional, State Department, World Bank and organization leaders. In July, Karen Orenstein became our Washington Organizer, working full-time to communicate between Washington and our grassroots network.

* Created seven new local chapters. Field Organizer Kristin Sundell worked to build up ETANís 21 other chapters and visited many areas with and without chapters to meet with local activists, journalists and community leaders. ETAN now has 28 local chapters in Albany, Arizona, Atlanta, Austin, Bloomington, Boston, Chicago, Florida, Green Bay, Houston, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Madison, Michigan, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Haven, New Jersey, Notre Dame, New York City, Pasadena, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC, as well as colleges across the U.S.

* Organized and strengthened rapid-response telephone networks to mobilize action on legislative priorities and developments in East Timor.

* Trained more than 30 ETAN organizers in a day-long workshop to improve grassroots media work.

* Worked with East Timor supporters in the religious, labor, Indonesian-American, Chinese-Indonesian, and Portuguese-American communities. In Washington, we have built relationships with arms control, labor, academic, peace, religious, political (all ends of the spectrum), economic justice and human rights groups.

* Stimulated and advised Peace Brigades International on the creation and development of their new project on East Timor.

* Worked with Grassroots International to develop their East Timor program and organized a national speaking tour for ETAN Executive Committee member Pamela Sexton, who also served as U.S. coordinator for the IFET Observer Project. Grassroots sent Pam to East and West Timor in September and October.

* Cooperated closely with Health Alliance International, Medical Aid for East Timor, the East Timor Relief Fund, Oxfam, Timor Aid, and other humanitarian aid efforts. Many chapters have organized fund-raising events for relief and reconstruction.

* Tabled and leafleted at the November protest at School of the Americas (Fort Benning, GA), building awareness about East Timor and support for H.R.1063, which restricts U.S. military training for both Indonesia and Guatemala. Allan Nairn spoke to more than 12,000 people there.

* Held a National Steering Committee meeting in early December in Chicago, attended by more than 50 people, representing 23 of ETANís 28 local chapters.

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.

* Worked closely with Parliamentarians for East Timor, the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, the Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor, the East Timor International Support Centre and national organizations in many other countries.

* Organized numerous letters, media statements and press conferences directed at the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General, or participants in the "tripartite talks" at the UN between Portugal and Indonesia.

* More than 50 ETAN activists visited East Timor and Indonesia during 1999, bringing back first-hand observations, organizing ideas and feedback. We have strong ties with activist organizations in both countries.

* Testified at the U.N. Committee on Decolonization. ETAN arranged housing and presenters for more than 30 petitioning organizations from around the world. We also facilitated testimony at the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly and at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

* Helped with logistical support and contacts for East Timorese leaders visiting the United States, including Xanana Gusmaoís first overseas trip. ETAN hosted a dinner in Washington to introduce Xanana to the activist community.


Mission Statement (1993-1999)

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 U.S. foreign policy and raise public awareness to support self-determination for East Timor.

With East Timor having achieved political self-determination, ETANís mission is shifting toward ensuring that the East Timorese people have the support, resources and political space to develop their country freely. We are also exploring ways to help advance democracy in Indonesia.

Financial Report, Calendar Year 1999

At the end of 1999, ETAN/US had three full-time and one ĺ-time paid staffers, with Karen Orenstein having joined our Washington Office in June. Our National Coordinator and many other active volunteers and interns work without pay. In addition to our office on Capitol Hill and shared space in Chicago, we use donated national (White Plains) and chapter offices. Consequently, we accomplish much more than most groups with a $260,000 annual budget. The figures below consolidate all national ETAN-related work, and are not a formal statement for ETAN, Inc. Local chapters raise and spend their own money.

Financial Report, Calendar Year 1999





























Phone & internet




Speaking tours




Legal & accounting




















Office equipment

  $1,042 -$1,042





National Meeting




Other $740 $1,758 -$525





1 This report is being prepared in mid-December, so many figures are estimates.

2 Expenses connected with grants are primarily the handling fees charged by our fiscal sponsors.

3 Expenses related to donations are primarily costs of fund appeal mailings.

4 Much of the money for the IFET Observer Project came through ETANís accounts, although the project is independent. The surplus here is uncertain as IFET-OP still has obligations to East Timorese. The figures shown here reflect only the IFET-OP funds that were handled directly by ETAN.

5 Although ETAN shows a net loss for this year, this is more than covered by a $40,000 grant we received at the very end of 1998 that does not show on this report.

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 grants during 1999 from the Solidago Foundation, the Threshold Foundation, the Samuel Rubin Foundation and the Funding Exchange.

The IFET Observer Project was also supported by the Lawson Valentine Foundation, the Canadian Labour Council, the Finnish government, the Canadian Government, and CDPM. The A.J.Muste Memorial Institute was its tax-deductible fiscal sponsor.

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 



make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |