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East Timor Action Network  
2002 Annual Report

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East Timor is only months away from full independence! Independence Day has been set for May 20, 2002 — a profound, if incomplete, tribute to all the East Timorese who struggled for freedom.

Having survived 24 years of genocidal Indonesian military occupation and centuries of colonial neglect, the world’s newest nation is now going through a difficult and complex transition from resistance to self-government. On the tenth anniversary of its founding, ETAN is also redefining itself in this new era of independence.

East Timor held its first democratic election on August 30, when more than 91% of the population peacefully elected a national Constituent Assembly – prompting observations that the East Timorese could very well teach the western world a lesson in participatory democracy. Twenty-seven percent of those elected to the Assembly were women, nearly twice the level of women’s representation in the U.S. Congress. The UN pressured the Assembly into writing the constitution in three short months, prompting criticism that the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has prioritized a speedy exit from the country at the expense of genuine consultation with the Timorese people on the constitution and other major political decisions.

Sadly, some 10% of the population was unable to participate in the election. An estimated 80,000 East Timorese remain refugees in military and militia-controlled camps in Indonesian West Timor more than two years after the independence referendum. While more refugees have returned since the election, it would take six years for all to repatriate at the current rate. This crisis continues in large part because the Indonesian government has failed to effectively disarm the militia or arrest their leaders. For these forgotten East Timorese, the occupation continues.

Hundreds of thousands lost their lives during the U.S.-backed Indonesian occupation. Yet, not a single member of the Indonesian armed forces has been prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed in 1999, even though both UN and Indonesian inquiries into the destruction laid the blame squarely at the top levels of the Indonesian military. East Timor’s own nascent justice system is overwhelmed, under-resourced, and works without meaningful cooperation from the Indonesian government. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s revised version of the decree establishing an Indonesian ad hoc human rights court on East Timor makes prosecution of high-ranking military even more unlikely. Justice will only be realized through an international tribunal on crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor. East Timorese NGOs, all 16 political parties, and many prominent individuals, including Nobel Laureate Bishop Carlos Belo, have called for an international tribunal.

ETAN’s two major campaigns in 2001 focused on gaining support for an international tribunal and a just resolution of the refugee crisis.

ETAN mobilized effective grassroots and national activity in more than 20 cities to
advance these campaigns on several important anniversaries this year: May 4, the second anniversary of the agreement that established East Timor’s referendum; September 6, the anniversary of the 1999 Suai massacre and the 2000 murder of three UN refugee workers by military-backed militia in Indonesian West Timor; and November 12, the tenth anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre.

This fall, a U.S. court issued the first ruling anywhere against a member of the Indonesian armed forces for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999. ETAN worked with Timorese victims of military and militia violence and their attorneys to win a $66 million judgment against Indonesian General Johny Lumintang.

ETAN worked to maintain legislated restrictions on military ties between the U.S. and Indonesia. With the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) and friends in Congress, we succeeded in keeping and strengthening conditions that the Indonesian government and military must meet before the restrictions can be lifted. However, increased multilateral military ties, training of ministry of defense civilians by the U.S. military, and commercial sales of “non-lethal” equipment to Indonesia are now allowed. Restrictions on other military ties continue to be an important source of leverage to ensure respect for human rights in East Timor and Indonesia and accountability for violations.

In the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, the Bush administration threatened to undermine years of work to curb human rights violations by the Indonesian and other abusive militaries. Strong grassroots and congressional pressure forced President Bush to back down on his request to unilaterally lift restrictions on military assistance to any country he wishes. As U.S. government and media attention shifts even further away from East Timor and the protection of human rights in general, we can expect more such challenges.

As we review 2001, we are pleased with the long-overdue and growing role of East Timorese in the leadership of their own country. Yet as a result of the repression and discriminatory policies during the Indonesian occupation, East Timor will need assistance for the foreseeable future. Our solidarity at this time is crucial. We are working to strengthen U.S.-East Timor grassroots partnerships, in part through expanding “sistering” relationships and facilitating people-to-people and other exchanges and the placement of skilled U.S. volunteers in East Timor.

ETAN also had to adjust to an inevitable decline in attention to East Timor in the U.S. and a decrease in funding for our important work. We are also facing the post-September 11 shift in the significance of Indonesia to the Bush administration.

In 2001, ETAN said farewell to our long-time national coordinator, founding member and heart of the network Charlie Scheiner. Charlie moved to East Timor in August. As a result of his departure, the administrative work of ETAN’s current staff has increased significantly, but our direct access to East Timorese has also been increased.

East Timor is now peaceful and free of military occupation. Young children can enjoy something their parents did not dare dream of – a safe, happy childhood. East Timorese activists with whom ETAN has worked for years are now members of the new government and leaders of civil society. Many are finally able to finish their education.

While acknowledging these major accomplishments, we must also beware that East Timor will continue to face many dangers on its path to genuine self-determination. The large international presence in East Timor, consisting mostly of highly-paid expatriates, has created a dual economy that has marginalized the East Timorese in their own country. Poverty, inadequate health care, and a vastly under-resourced educational system are widespread. Efforts by international bodies to mold East Timor into their own visions of a “free market” economy continue. With coffee and oil set to be East Timor’s major exports, the pitfalls which face so many developing countries will need to be confronted by the Timorese and overcome. These and many other large and complicated issues will challenge ETAN to find creative ways to support East Timor. ETAN will continue to pressure the U.S. government and multilateral institutions and work with East Timorese NGOs to address these issues and help create a just society in an often unjust globalized age.

This report highlights ETAN’s major activities during 2001.

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Strengthening U.S. government policy 

  • Held our eighth annual “Lobby Days” in June. Forty-five activists representing 20 states met with 155 congressional offices; this grassroots contact resulted in increased support for important resolutions and letters on East Timor.
  • Helped draft and campaigned for Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 and House Concurrent Resolution 60, “urging the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal for prosecuting crimes against humanity” in East Timor. Advocacy for this legislation will continue in 2002.
  • Maintained and extended past legislative victories, including a ban on International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Indonesia. ETAN and the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) worked to strengthen conditions Indonesia must meet before Congress lifts restrictions on IMET and FMF.
  • Successfully advocated for continued high levels of U.S. assistance for East Timor, including a $25 million appropriation for reconstruction and nation-building.
  • Worked with the authors of the East Timor Transition to Independence Act of 2001 to ensure that the bill promotes — to the greatest extent possible given the current political climate — justice, labor rights, environmental protection and sustainable development. The House version of the bill passed as an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization bill.
  • Organized and spoke at a congressional press conference with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) on September 6, the anniversary of the 1999 Indonesian military-led massacre in the town of Suai, East Timor, and the 2000 murder of three UN refugee workers in West Timor.
  • Coordinated congressional pressure on the Bush administration to agree to pay for the civilian component — the Serious Crimes Unit and advisors to the nascent Timorese government — of the post-independence UN peacekeeping mission through assessed contributions. The Bush administration eventually agreed to the requests.
  • Rallied congressional support to link pledges of non-humanitarian U.S. government aid at the annual meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) — its major bilateral and multilateral donors — to human rights and resolution of East Timor’s refugee crisis.
  • Monitored and/or participated in discussions on East Timor with the State Department, National Security Council, USAID and World Bank and Pentagon.
  • Coordinated strategy and actions with other grassroots-based human rights organizations to pressure Congress to reject Bush administration efforts to use the September 11 tragedies to obtain a blanket waiver on all restrictions on military assistance and weapons exports to any country he wishes for the next five years. The administration withdrew the request.
  • Testified before Congress on East and West Timor.
  • Arranged meetings for East Timorese, West Timorese, and other visitors to Washington with a range of U.S. government agencies.
  • Drafted and encouraged numerous letters by members of Congress to the U.S. administration and Indonesian government.
  • Coordinated successful effort by supportive members of Congress to excise inaccurate and harmful legislative report language on East Timor in a major appropriations bill.

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Keeping up the Pressure

  • Campaigned for a just resolution of the East Timorese refugee crisis in West Timor. ETAN protested the sham refugee registration conducted by the Indonesian government.
  • Campaigned for an international tribunal on crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor, and for substantial U.S. support for East Timor’s judicial system.
  • Published the full text of a UN-commissioned report on Indonesian military crimes against humanity in East Timor that UNTAET officials did not plan on releasing.
  • Sponsored several national days of action, including May 4, the second anniversary of the agreement that established East Timor’s referendum; September 6, the anniversary of the 1999 Suai massacre and murder of UN staff in West Timor a year later; and November 12, the 10th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre. On these dates, ETAN activists held demonstrations and vigils, met with and called congressional offices, and did outreach to communities and the media in more than 20 cities.
  • Supported a lawsuit by East Timorese victims of Indonesian military and militia violence, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Center for Justice and Accountability that won a $66 million judgment against Indonesian General Johny Lumintang for his role in the systematic violations following East Timor’s 1999 vote. The Indonesian government and Lumintang himself felt compelled to respond to the ruling in the Indonesian media.
  • Wrote UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in support of a mandated minimum level of women’s participation in East Timor’s Constituent Assembly election. Although the proposal by women’s organizations in East Timor was not accepted, the wide support for it both inside East Timor and internationally led the UN to implement various programs in support of women political candidates.
  • Responded promptly to Megawati’s July ascension to the Indonesian presidency and her September visit to the U.S. with calls for a crackdown on militia in West Timor and support for an international tribunal on East Timor.
  • Organized protests and vigils at the Indonesian Embassy and consulates in Washington, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, and held actions in other cities across the U.S. to highlight the refugee crisis and the need for an international tribunal. These demonstrations were covered by international reporters and local and national media.
  • Organized and participated in protests at public appearances by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. These actions and questioning from the audience called for accountability for the U.S. role in Indonesia’s 1975 invasion of East Timor.

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Providing Resources and Information

  • Hosted a cross-country U.S. speaking tour in May and June with Winston Neil Rondo, General Secretary of the Center for Internally Displaced People’s Services, a West Timor-based NGO working with East Timorese refugees.
  • Highlighted East Timorese women’s issues in presentations at university women’s and gender studies programs, community sexual violence centers, and other related fora. Also helped prepare editorials and information on the impact of the refugee crisis and the lack of justice on East Timorese women.
  • Spoke at film festivals featuring The Diplomat, a documentary about Jose Ramos-Horta and the East Timor struggle.
  • Distributed audiovisual and printed resources. Published a booklet on the refugee crisis, The Indonesian Military Occupation Continues for East Timor’s Refugees…Two Years After Choosing Independence. Write for ETAN’s latest resource list or see our website for a full listing.
  • Hosted and arranged interviews for Hugo da Costa, editor of the East Timorese newspaper Timor Post.
  • Published two issues of Estafeta, our national newsletter.
  • Wrote and assisted with op-ed pieces, articles, and letters in numerous local, national, and international newspapers and magazines. ETAN activists were interviewed by media ranging from local newspapers and radio shows to BBC and CNN television. We also assisted a number of filmmakers preparing documentaries on East Timor or U.S. foreign policy.
  • Enhanced our web site ( as a frequently-updated source of news and information about East Timor. ETAN also maintains the internet presence of La’o Hamutuk and the International Federation for East Timor.
  • Organized, participated in, and gave presentations at conferences, universities, and other meetings, including a New York forum sponsored by ETAN, “Justice for East Timor: 10 Years After the Santa Cruz Massacre” and an Institute on Peacekeeping Studies conference in Madison, Wisconsin on “Community-Based Peacekeeping Alternatives.”
  • Issued numerous action alerts via fax, e-mail, and telephone. Many organizations redistribute our materials, reaching tens of thousands of people across the U.S.
  • Disseminated press releases, photographs, and answered numerous queries from media and journalists. ETAN statements are often used by media in East Timor, Indonesia and elsewhere.
  • Provided informational materials and videos to numerous libraries and community, college, and high school groups. Responded to numerous information requests about East Timor from students, academics, and others.
  • Updated and coordinated a national speakers bureau of 25 speakers across the U.S.
  • Managed internet mailing lists on East Timor and Indonesia. Hundreds of policymakers, journalists, and activists depend on these news lists. (For information on how to subscribe to these lists, send a blank e-mail to
  • Researched and contacted various organizations and people regarding potential ETAN facilitation of fair trade initiatives in East Timor with organic coffee and traditional weavings, or tais.
  • Assisted skilled volunteers with finding placements in East Timor.

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Strengthening the movement

  • Strengthened existing chapters, developed new key contacts in other areas, and encouraged and supported the ongoing formation of new chapters.
  • Traveled throughout the U.S. to increase awareness and strengthen interest and support for East Timor in community and academic settings. States visited by our Field Organizer included Ohio, Minnesota, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Georgia, California and Massachusetts.
  • Held a national strategy conference in Arizona in January attended by representatives from 13 states, at which ETAN revised its mission statement and established campaign priorities for the coming year.
  • Held an executive committee retreat in New York in July, to review and update critical organization and campaign-related direction and strategies.
  • Worked with East Timor supporters in the religious, labor, Indonesian-American, Chinese-Indonesian, and Portuguese-American communities. We strengthened relationships with arms control, labor, peace, religious, political (all ends of the spectrum), economic justice, and women’s and human rights organizations.
  • Supported grassroots partnerships between the U.S. and East Timor, including a “Youth Bridge Commission” between the Boston Catholic Archdiocese and the Dili Diocese, and a sister city relationship between Madison, WI, and Ainaro.
  • Actively supported Democracy Now! radio journalist Amy Goodman, eyewitness to the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. Her reporting on East Timor and other issues has been under attack from the Pacifica Foundation, which had produced her program.
  • Strengthened relationships with NGOs in East and West Timor, and initiated discussions on how to foster closer ties between ETAN’s members and NGOs in East Timor. Regularly consulted with Timorese political and NGO leaders.
  • Improved communications and participation within ETAN, setting up campaign task forces and instituting other changes.

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Thinking and acting globally

  • Represented the International Federation for East Timor (IFET) at the UN and drafted and disseminated IFET materials.
  • Arranged and provided support for Natércia Godhino-Adams to testify before the UN Security Council on women and peacemaking.
  • Arranged meetings between East Timorese and UN staff, and consulted with UN staff and diplomats.
  • Continued to work closely with the Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor, TAPOL, and other national and international organizations.
  • Drafted and organized NGO letters and media statements directed at the UN, World Bank, and Indonesian government.
  • Worked with East Timorese, international, and U.S.-based NGOs to protest the early withdrawal of the UN refugee agency from East and West Timor.
  • Spoke at a rally at the UN on the impact of government-supplied small arms on East Timor.
  • Local chapters collected donations to assist in the rebuilding of East Timor. Projects included a major book drive by ETAN chapters in Arizona, Los Angeles, Madison, Montana, Notre Dame University, and San Francisco. ETAN also worked with Peace Jam! to send supplies to Timorese schools.
  • Several ETAN members visited East Timor over the course of the year. Several have moved there to work with East Timorese NGOs.
  • Disseminated information from East Timorese NGOs, including the NGO Forum and La’o Hamutuk, The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis.

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Supporting democracy and human rights in Indonesia

  • Hosted IHRN staff in ETAN office space through September. ETAN continues to collaborate with IHRN in influencing Washington policy and in outreach and media work.
  • Managed internet mailing lists on Indonesia and West Papua. (For information on how to subscribe to these lists, send a blank e-mail to

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Financial Report, Calendar Year 20011

At the end of 2001, ETAN/U.S. has two full-time paid staff people, Washington Coordinator Karen Orenstein and Field Organizer Diane Farsetta, and one 3/4-time, Media/Outreach Coordinator John M. Miller. We also have many active volunteers and interns who work without pay. Consequently, we accomplish much more than most groups with a similar 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 funds.

Financial Report, Calendar Year 2001





Grants (2)

$ 51,990



Donations (3)












Bank charges & interest




Speaking tours








Estafeta newsletter  




Phone & internet 














9,415 (5,573)

Equipment & supplies  




National Meeting




Travel     2,822  (2,822)
Other   176 (176)





Notes to financial report
1 This report is being prepared in early December; many figures are estimates.
2 Expenses related to 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 net loss in funds ETAN experienced in 2001 was covered by funds raised in previous years.

Donations made out to “ETAN/U.S.” support our political advocacy work and are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible donations of more than $50 in support of our educational work can be made out to “The Foundation for International Scientific Cooperation.” 

ETAN gratefully acknowledges grants during 2001 from Working Assets, the Tides Foundation, the Leo J. & Celia Carlin Fund, the Samuel Rubin Foundation, and

East Timor Action Network/U.S.


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Donations of any size for ETAN's political and advocacy work should be made out to ETAN and are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible checks for over $50 can be made out to "The Foundation for International Scientific Cooperation/ETAN" and will be used to support our educational work. Click here for a mail donation form


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