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East Timor Action Network  
2000 Annual Report

PDF version

Supporting the transition to independence
Strengthening U.S. government policy
Keeping up the pressure
Strengthening the movement 
Supporting democracy and human rights in Indonesia
Thinking and acting globally
In Memoriam
Financial Report


The year 2000 was one of transition for both the emerging nation of East Timor and the East Timor Action Network. In East Timor, the world's newest nation is moving inexorably toward independence. During 1999, 24 brutal years of U.S.-supported Indonesian occupation ended after an internationally-conducted referendum in which East Timor voted for independence. Before the vote, Indonesia-backed troops and militias terrorized the population, killing hundreds and threatening massive devastation if people voted against Indonesian rule. But the tremendous courage of the East Timorese prevailed: On August 30, 98.6% of the voters turned out, 78.5% voting for independence. In the following weeks of Indonesian military and militia terror, three-fourths of the population fled for their lives into the mountains or were forcibly taken into West Timor and other parts of Indonesia. Anti-independence forces then burned, looted, and destroyed more than 70% of East Timor's buildings and infrastructure. 

It took two long weeks before worldwide public outrage forced the Indonesian government to allow a foreign peacekeeping force into East Timor. Indonesian troops withdrew, and order was restored. The people in the mountains returned to their devastated villages. Fifteen months later, approximately 100,000 of the 260,000 East Timorese who were taken to West Timor remain hostages in squalid, militia-controlled refugee camps. 

In East Timor, a United Nations Transitional Administration (UNTAET) rules, planning to turn over power to an East Timorese government following elections in late 2001. The first new nation of the millennium faces many challenges: reconstruction and recovery, threats along its border, constitution-writing and nation-building, development and economic planning, and inheriting authority from a UN administration which often fails to respond to East Timorese needs and desires. 

For the past nine years, the East Timor Action Network has worked in the United States and internationally to end our government's support for Indonesia's occupation. That goal was achieved during 1999, when the U.S. and other governments supported the UN referendum. However, that support was not backed up by political will sufficient to prevent the post-vote devastation. Currently, U.S. and UN support for justice in East Timor remains inadequate. Continued pressure is needed to maintain and strengthen East Timorese independence, hold Indonesia and the world community responsible for East Timor's quarter-century of trauma, and to restore democracy and human rights to Indonesia. 

During 2000, ETAN campaigned to prevent all U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia, a hard-fought victory that was won in 1999. The following spring and summer, the U.S. engaged in joint exercises with the Indonesian navy and marines, but ties were again cut off following the September 6 murder of three international UN workers in West Timor (including U.S. citizen Carlos Caceres). At year's end, we have successfully blocked attempts by the Pentagon and others to resume training and weapons sales to Indonesia's armed forces. 

When ETAN's national Steering Committee met in December, 1999, we identified short-term goals: enable East Timorese refugees to return home from West Timor, press the Indonesian government to arrest and disband the militias, and call for international, East Timorese, and Indonesian legal processes to try those guilty of crimes against humanity in East Timor. 

We saw continued pressure on the Indonesian military and government as key to achieving these goals, but anticipated a day when the Indonesian military would no longer be a major factor in East Timor. Although we reaffirmed ETAN's focus on East Timor, we decided to help create an Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) to work in coordination with ETAN and other U.S.-based groups to address the full range of human rights and democracy issues in Indonesia, especially the current crises in Aceh, Papua and Maluku. 

Another major activity of ETAN during 2000 included sending a fact-finding mission to East and West Timor and Jakarta to highlight the refugee issue. We also helped to shape the relationship between the United States government and the nascent government of Timor Loro Sa'e. Listed below is a fuller description of the range and the scope of our activities, which also encompassed local organizing, building ties with the East Timorese people and their organizations, and using the U.S. political process to highlight East Timor's situation. 

Over the past year, there has been some improvement in the initially dismal performance of the UN transitional administration. More East Timorese are now involved, although a dual economy (with expatriate salaries more than 10 times East Timorese wages) persists, and foreign businessmen continue to profiteer. All too often, the UN and other foreign institutions running East Timor do not understand or communicate with the people of the country, deferring to bureaucratic procedures or practices used elsewhere. To address this problem, ETAN has been instrumental in starting La'o Hamutuk (Tetum for "Walking Together"), a joint East Timorese-international project to analyze and advocate about the development and reconstruction process. 

As 2000 ends, two of ETAN's five staff members are returning to graduate school. Lynn Fredriksson, who represented ETAN in Washington for the past three years, is being replaced by Karen Orenstein. Lynn's creativity, insight and dedication to East Timor (and, more recently, to IHRN) were essential in turning U.S. policy around. Kristin Sundell, who traveled the U.S. since early 1997 as our national Field Organizer, is attending Union Theological Seminary; we are in the process of hiring her successor. Kristin's enthusiasm and hard work educated and motivated thousands to support East Timor, and nurtured our two dozen local chapters. John M. Miller continues as our Media/Outreach coordinator, and Charles Scheiner is our National Coordinator. We are hiring a part-time fundraiser. 

Although 2000 was the first year East Timor was free from Indonesian occupation, news coverage and public awareness in the United States decreased. Consequently, it has become more difficult for ETAN to raise money and stimulate activism, since many believe the crisis is over. In reality, the people of East Timor still deserve and need support from people in the United States, not only because our government was complicit in the killing of one-third of their population over the past 25 years, but because they have a difficult and dangerous route from last year's destruction through transitional UN rule to independence. 

ETAN is preparing for a national strategic planning conference in Arizona at the end of January 2001. We will be evaluating how best to adapt our structure, program and priorities to East Timor's evolving situation and to diminished awareness of East Timor in the United States. We have decreased our staff size and lowered our rent to compensate for less funding, and other adaptations will make us even more effective and efficient. 

This report highlights ETAN's major activities during 2000. Although much has been accomplished and most of the bloodshed has ended, the challenges of building a new nation - with liberty and justice for all - in this era of globalization and U.S. domination is indeed daunting. With their sacrifice, persistence, ingenuity and success, East Timor's people have inspired activists for freedom all over the world. We will work with them so that those qualities may also be a model for an independent, democratic country that puts the welfare of its entire population ahead of the economic interests of the rich or the few. 

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Supporting the transition to independence 

  • In 1999, ETAN helped more than 40 U.S. activists travel to East Timor as observers for the referendum. Many of them returned during 2000 to work with humanitarian organizations. In addition, ETAN was directly involved with four delegations to the emerging nation, each of which met with political, NGO and UN leaders, as well as a wide range of grassroots East Timorese: In January 2000, Lynn Fredriksson and Gabriela Lopes da Cruz visited East Timor to assess the post-devastation situation and help build ties between ETAN and many new East Timorese NGOs. In April, ETAN organized a delegation to West and East Timor and Jakarta to highlight the refugee crisis. Karen Orenstein and Pamela Sexton led the group, which included filmmaker John Sayles, three Congressional staff, two journalists and Indonesia expert Loren Ryter. Joseph Nevins, Pamela Sexton and Mark Salzer each spent months in East Timor helping to get La'o Hamutuk off the ground. Pam and Mark have moved their families to East Timor and will continue as LH staff for the next year or more. In December, Charles Scheiner and Jill Sternberg traveled to East Timor to survey how ETAN can assist there and to research conflict resolution processes.
  • Maintained close contact with many East Timorese leaders and activists, conferring with nearly all who came to the U.S. from East Timor, and arranging meetings between East Timorese leaders and key people in the United States. 
  • Provided support for East Timorese CNRT representative Constancio Pinto and his family as he finished graduate school in New York and began service as East Timor's representative in Washington. 

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Strengthening U.S. government policy 

  • Continued and enhanced our supportive working relationships with several dozen congressional offices. 
  • Testified before Congress on East and West Timor. 
  • Succeeded in increasing U.S. aid for East Timor to $25 million for fiscal 2001, up from the $10 million in President Clinton's budget request. 
  • Campaigned for H.R.4357/S.2621, the East Timor Repatriation and Security Act of 2000. This legislation would extend the ban on U.S. cooperation with and assistance to the Indonesian armed forces until the U.S. president certifies certain conditions have been met, including the safe return of refugees to East Timor and judicial accountability for military and militia members responsible for human rights violations. The bill also requires Indonesia to prevent militia incursions into East Timor and not to impede the UN administration. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed S. 2621, and the substance of this legislation has been enacted in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act of 2000, building on similar ETAN successes over the last several years. 
  • Continued the congressional ban on non-commercial weapons sales and International Military Education and Training (IMET) and other military training, and reinstated the suspension of U.S.-Indonesia joint military exercises. We also worked for a legal ban on all related training (H.R.1063), which has yet to pass. 
  • Drafted and encouraged numerous letters and resolutions by members of Congress to members of the administration, United Nations, World Bank and Indonesian government. 
  • Helped write and promote H.R.5253/S.3254, the East Timor Transition to Independence Act, which defines U.S. relations with the emerging East Timorese government. While cautious about sections of the bill regarding military assistance and corporate investment, ETAN firmly supports bringing East Timor into the family of nations with full U.S. encouragement. A version of this bill will likely become law during 2001. 
  • Monitored and participated in discussions on East Timor with the World Bank, State Department, National Security Council, USAID and the Office of Transition Initiatives, as well as the Pentagon and Treasury Department. 
  • Arranged meetings between visiting East Timorese and a range of U.S. government agencies. 
  • Held our seventh annual "Lobby Days" in May. Grassroots lobbyists visited hundreds of House and Senate offices. 

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Keeping up the pressure 

  • Campaigned for an international tribunal to hold accountable those who directed and committed crimes against the people of East Timor since 1975. Neither the Indonesian nor UNTAET judicial processes will go very far, if anywhere. A tribunal is the only effective way to secure the justice needed for the victims to recover from trauma and resolve past conflicts, as well as to help prevent further atrocities by the military in Indonesia. 
  • Worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Center for Justice and Accountability lawsuit against Indonesian general Johny Lumintang on behalf of several East Timorese victims of post-vote violence. Several months before the vote, Lumintang signed a telegram ordering a crackdown if East Timor voted for independence. 
  • Organized demonstrations, teach-ins and other events at the Republican and Democratic Conventions, highlighting the major-party candidates' poor records on East Timor. ETAN also wrote and distributed an analysis of their records
  • Organized protests at Indonesian embassies, missions and consulates in Washington, New York and other cities demanding that the militias be disbanded and refugees be allowed to return home. 
  • Together with the International Federation for East Timor (IFET), ETAN campaigned for a postponement of the October meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI), where bilateral and multilateral aid agencies pledge approximately $5 billion annually. Although the CGI meeting went ahead, a number of donor countries repeatedly stressed Indonesia's abysmal human rights record, as well as its failure to disband the militias. The U.S. made its pledge contingent on Indonesia fulfilling a UN Security Council Resolution addressing the refugee crisis in West Timor. Providing resources and information 
  • Published three issues of Estafeta, our national newsletter
  • ETAN staffers and activists wrote chapters for several new books on East Timor, as well as articles and letters in numerous local, national and international newspapers. 
  • Conducted two national speaking tours: Pam Sexton (of ETAN and Grassroots International) spoke around the country from November 1999 to January 2000, and Ajiza Magno (of the Sa’he Institute for Liberation in East Timor) spoke in 20 states throughout October-December 2000 on the challenges facing her country as it prepares for independence. 
  • Enhanced our web site ( as a frequently updated source of news and information about East Timor. ETAN also hosts the internet presence of the International Federation for East Timor and La’o Hamutuk
  • Organized, participated in and gave presentations at numerous academic conferences, activist meetings, rock concerts and universities, including the Washington Workshop on East Timor. 
  • Issued more than a dozen action alerts by fax, e-mail, telephone and postal mail. Many groups redistribute our materials, reaching tens of thousands. 
  • Disseminated press releases, photographs, and other information to reporters and editors. ETAN statements are often published in East Timorese and Indonesian newspapers. ETAN also assisted a number of journalists traveling to East Timor. 
  • Distributed printed and audiovisual resources, including much hard-to-find material. Inquire about our latest resource list or see our website. 
  • Coordinated a national speakers bureau of more than 30 speakers, and provided videos and other resources to hundreds of colleges and community groups. 
  • Managed internet mailing lists on East Timor, La’o Hamutuk, Indonesia and West Papua. Hundreds of policymakers, journalists, and activists depend on our news lists, which distribute hundreds of articles every week. (For information on how to subscribe to any of these lists send a blank e-mail to

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Strengthening the movement

  • Created several new local chapters, and strengthened existing ones. ETAN has chapters in Albany, Arizona, Atlanta, Austin, Colorado, Bloomington, Boston, Chicago, Florida, Green Bay, Houston, Indiana, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Madison, Michigan, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montana, New Haven, Notre Dame, New York City, Pasadena, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. 
  • Worked with East Timor supporters in the religious, labor, Indonesian-American, Chinese-Indonesian, and Portuguese-American communities. In Washington and elsewhere, we have built relationships with arms control, labor, peace, religious, political (all ends of the spectrum), economic justice and human rights groups. 
  • Advised Peace Brigades International on their project in East Timor and Indonesia. 
  • Arranged for East Timorese lawyer/activist Aderito Soares to be a judge for an international tribunal on U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico held in Vieques. 
  • Collaborated with projects raising material aid for East Timor, including the East Timor Research and Relief Project (raising thousands of dollars in direct aid to grassroots groups in East Timor that receive little or no international funding, as well as collecting books for the Sa’he Institute’s People’s Library of East Timor), Medical Aid to East Timor and Health Alliance International (for the Bairro Pite health clinic), Grassroots International, Global Exchange, Oxfam, and Timor Aid. Many local chapters have organized fund-raising events for relief and reconstruction. 
  • Developed a sister-city relationship between Madison, Wisconsin and Ainaro, East Timor, a model that can be replicated across both nations. 
  • Encouraged support for Democracy Now! radio host Amy Goodman, who courageously reported from East Timor during the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre and has consistently supported East Timor and ETAN. Her independence and groundbreaking reporting is under attack from the Pacifica Foundation, which produces her program.

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Supporting democracy and human rights in Indonesia

  • Initiated and provided essential support (especially from ETAN Washington Representative Lynn Fredriksson) for the new Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN), which builds on ETAN’s record to advocate for justice and human rights throughout the Indonesian archipelago.
  • Organized protests and memorials for Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, an Acehnese human rights lawyer residing in New York who worked with ETAN for years and was an architect of the Indonesian Human Rights Network. In August, as he traveled to Indonesia to help organize human rights activists, Jafar was kidnapped by Indonesian security forces or their militia proxies. His mutilated body was found a month later. ETAN protested Jafar’s disappearance and mourns his murder; IHRN is dedicated to his memory. 
  • Helped coordinate an emergency delegation to Aceh in October.

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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 UN staff and consultations with people joining the UN Transitional Administration. 
  • Worked closely with the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, the Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor, and national organizations in many other countries. 
  • Organized numerous letters and media statements directed at the UN Security Council, Secretary-General, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and the Indonesian government, and organized several press conferences at the United Nations and in Washington, DC. 
  • Helped organize an international conference of East Timor groups held in May in Utrecht, Netherlands, which re-energized participants from solidarity groups in Europe, North America, and Indonesia. 
  • Encouraged dozens of U.S. activists to visit East Timor, where they volunteered with local organizations, returning with first-hand observations and feedback.
  • Testified before the UN Committee on Decolonization. ETAN arranged presenters for petitioning organizations from around the world.

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In Memoriam 

  • During 2000, four U.S.-based supporters of East Timor lost their lives, and we remember them as we continue their work. Saylor Creswell and Diane Mechling were vital members of ETAN’s New York and Portland chapters, respectively. Carlos Caceres Lopes, a young Puerto Rican human rights lawyer working for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, was murdered in West Timor by military-backed militias. Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a New York-based Acehnese lawyer and human rights activist, was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Medan, Indonesia. They join the hundreds of thousands of East Timorese and Indonesians who have died struggling for their freedom.

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Financial Report, Calendar Year 2000

At the end of 2000, ETAN/US had one full-time paid staffer, Washington Coordinator Karen Orenstein, and one ¾-time, Media/Outreach Coordinator John M. Miller. We are hiring a full-time field organizer and a half-time fund raiser. Our National Coordinator Charles Scheiner, and many other active volunteers and interns work without pay.

We moved our Washington office to reduce our rent. We have free office space for our national (White Plains), media (Brooklyn) and chapter offices. Consequently, we accomplish much more than most groups with a $194,000 annual budget. The figures below consolidate all national ETAN-related work, and are not a formal financial statement for ETAN, Inc. Local chapters raise and spend their own money.

Financial Report, Calendar Year 2000 (1)





Grants (2)

$ 71,138



Donations (3)




Special Events








Legal & accounting 

7,000 (4)



Bank charges & interest




Missions to East Timor   




Speaking tours








Estafeta newsletter  




Phone & internet 



- 14,217











12,112 -11,314

Equipment & supplies  




National Meeting




Travel   212  1,742 -1,530
Other 11  767  -756





Notes to financial report 

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

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

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

4 The Center for Constitutional Rights sued the Mayor of New York City on behalf of ETAN because the city unlawfully rejected our request to temporarily rename the street in front of the Indonesian Consulate “East Timor Way.” The request was belatedly consented to in 1999, and the financial settlement was paid in 2000. 

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 2000 from the Solidago Foundation, GiveForChange (, the Tides Foundation, and the Samuel Rubin Foundation.

East Timor Action Network/U.S.


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