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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
second anniversary of the agreement that established East Timor’s
6, the anniversary of the 1999 Suai massacre and
murder of UN staff in West Timor a year later; and November
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
- 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
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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
- Enhanced our web site (http://www.etan.org)
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
- 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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- 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
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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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
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
Financial Report, Calendar Year
Bank charges &
Notes to financial report
1 This report is being prepared in early December; many figures
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
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 eGrants.org.
East Timor Action Network/U.S.
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