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East Timor Action Network  
2002 Annual Report

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For East Timor, 2002 was filled with unparalleled historic events. In March, the nation’s first Constitution was approved. Former guerrilla leader and ex-political prisoner Xanana Gusmão was overwhelmingly elected East Timor’s first president in April. On May 20, United Nations rule ended and the East Timorese took charge of their own country. In September, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (its official name – “East Timor” in Portuguese) joined the UN.

East Timor’s independence captured the attention and imagination of people worldwide. As the UN flag was lowered and the new country’s flag raised at midnight on May 19, the survivors of the resistance movement and the hundreds of thousands killed were honored in a national ceremony held just outside the capital, Dili. East Timorese remembered their long struggle in the mountains with the guerrilla forces, in the schools with the underground student movement, in towns and villages where rape and torture survivors clandestinely organized, and around the world where East Timorese exiles educated foreign communities and advocated for their country’s freedom.

After Independence Day, East Timorese, Indonesian, North American (including several ETAN members) and other activists discussed what international solidarity means for an independent East Timor. The meetings saw East Timor’s government and civil society representatives agree that international support remains crucial, without agreeing on what forms it should take – a sign of a vibrant democracy!

Throughout 2002, ETAN held in-depth consultations with East Timorese grassroots organizations, asking what our role should be. East Timorese activists strongly supported ETAN’s work on justice, U.S.-Indonesia military ties, the refugee crisis and economic and development issues. They overwhelmingly urged us to make an international tribunal our prime focus and warned that the need for support for equitable, sustainable development would only grow. Our East Timorese partners also encouraged ETAN to expand our work monitoring U.S. institutions in East Timor, and to facilitate more exchanges of information and people.
2002 also saw some less auspicious events. In May, the newly independent nation signed the Timor Sea Treaty with Australia, an interim agreement delineating more narrow sea boundaries for East Timor (and therefore less of the gas and oil) than would be recognized under international law. Although additional agreements will be negotiated, Australia is putting tremendous pressure on East Timor to maintain the current unfair boundaries, which could result in a loss of tens of billion of dollars in future revenue for East Timor.

In July, East Timor joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. East Timor has already come under pressure to take out loans. In August, the Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor acquitted six Indonesian military and police officers of charges of crimes against humanity committed in 1999, contrary to a wealth of well-documented evidence. Also in August, East Timor became the third country to sign an “Article 98” agreement granting immunity to U.S. personnel in East Timor from International Criminal Court prosecution. In September, all repatriation assistance programs for the estimated 40,000 East Timorese still in militia-controlled Indonesian refugee camps ended. And by the end of the year, more than 1500 East Timorese children, most of them in Indonesia, will remain involuntarily separated from their parents.
ETAN mobilized grassroots activists to write letters and op/ed pieces, hold vigils, call and meet with members of Congress, and organize community events. ETAN chapters in more than 18 cities and 14 states rose to the occasion, effectively building awareness and support.
Justice and the maintenance of restrictions on U.S.-Indonesia military ties were ETAN’s major focuses in 2002. We organized a 22-city speaking tour with Filomena Barros dos Reis, Advocacy Officer for the East Timor National NGO Forum. Through the tour, ETAN did outreach to women’s groups and built Congressional support for resolutions calling for an international tribunal.

October’s tragic bombings in Bali, Indonesia, accelerated the Bush administration’s efforts to resume ties with the Indonesian military. ETAN took the lead in educating and lobbying members of Congress to support the maintenance of human rights conditions restricting U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. While we helped strengthen restrictions on the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, the Defense Department instituted a new “Regional Counter-Terrorism Fellowship” military training program, which included Indonesia. The fate of restrictions on the prestigious International Military Education and Training (IMET) program remains uncertain. ETAN will continue to work with the Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) and others to ensure the “war on terror” doesn’t mean renewing ties with the Indonesian military, a force responsible for numerous acts of state terror against civilian populations in East Timor, Aceh, Papua and other areas of the Indonesian archipelago.

ETAN launched its first economic justice campaign in 2002. Working with organizations in East Timor and elsewhere, ETAN led the International Campaign for a Debt-Free, Structural Adjustment-Free East Timor. People in 22 donor countries contacted their governments to press for generous, condition-free grants for East Timor. ETAN worked with members of Congress and non-governmental organizations to press Secretary of State Colin Powell and Congressional appropriators to provide adequate, unconditional support for the new nation. Our work helped ensure enough assistance for East Timor to avoid loans during its first year of independence, but we will need to renew the pressure next year. We continue to monitor international financial institution activities in East Timor, including the World Bank’s administration of two trust funds of donor money.

On Independence Day, ETAN congratulated the East Timorese and promised to continue working for justice, refugee return, sustainable development and an accurate accounting of the U.S. role in supporting Indonesia’s invasion and occupation.

Funding this important work remains challenging. As ETAN looks forward to 2003 and an increasingly closer partnership with East Timorese organizations, we are exploring innovative approaches to be able to continue our work. Please read the following highlights of ETAN’s 2002 activities and generously renew your financial, activist and other support of our work.

As East Timorese civil society and their government have repeatedly stated, the need for international solidarity didn’t end with independence. Challenges remain — the need for an international tribunal and a humane resolution to the refugee crisis; other challenges are newer – economic justice, people-centered sustainable development and genuine self-determination in the face of powerful, often U.S.-led political, economic and military pressures.

A luta continua – the struggle continues!

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Strengthening U.S. government policy 

  • Held our ninth annual “ETAN Lobby Days” in June. Forty activists from 17 states, with friends from Maluku and Aceh, met with 115 Congressional offices. ETAN’s activist lobbyists built support for an international tribunal and sustainable development for East Timor, and for maintaining human rights conditions restricting U.S. military assistance for Indonesia.
  • Helped draft and campaigned for numerous letters from members of Congress to the Bush administration and Indonesian government officials, on matters including U.S.-Indonesia military ties, undue UN pressure on East Timor’s new government, keeping East Timor debt-free, and an international tribunal for East Timor.
  • Helped draft and assisted in passage of House and Senate resolutions congratulating the people of East Timor on their independence and urging administration support for justice and the new country. The House resolution also contained language on restricting U.S. military assistance for Indonesia.
  • Provided members of Congress with suggested questions for use during Senate and House hearings with Pentagon and State Department officials.
  • Wrote and circulated sample questions for local activists to ask candidates during November’s election.
  • Worked with the East Timor National NGO Forum to raise the issue of justice and Indonesian military impunity with U.S. administration officials, including the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. These contacts helped put justice for East Timor on the administration’s agenda.
  • Drafted strong recommendations for the U.S. State Department regarding the 58th session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva in March and monitored commission proceedings.
  • Wrote and circulated a detailed critique of Indonesian non-compliance with the legislated “Leahy” human rights conditions placed on military assistance for Indonesia.
  • Opposed resumption of military assistance for Indonesia during the foreign operations and defense department appropriations processes in Congress. ETAN’s work with U.S. religious and secular organizations, Indonesian rights groups and members of Congress led to strengthened conditions on FMF, a new restriction on the licensing of lethal defense articles for Indonesia, and Congressional efforts to maintain IMET restrictions.
  • Called every House member and delivered information packets to every Congressional office detailing why the current restrictions on military assistance to Indonesia must be maintained.
  • Built support for House and Senate resolutions calling for an international tribunal for East Timor. By the end of the Congressional session, the House resolution had 64 sponsors, the Senate version 12. Similar legislation may be reintroduced in the 2003 Congress.
  • Held discussions on East Timor with officials from the State Department, National Security Council, U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank, UN and Pentagon.
  • Organized a coalition of organizations and worked with members of Congress to urge the Bush administration to make a generous, condition-free grant at the May East Timor donors’ conference. Future pressure will be needed, as U.S. grants are considered annually.
  • Briefed Congressional staff prior to trips to East Timor and Indonesia and helped organize a House briefing on Indonesia and lack of accountability for 1999’s devastation of East Timor.
  • Successfully advocated for continued high levels of U.S. assistance for East Timor, including a $25 million appropriation in Congress for reconstruction and nation-building.
  • Scheduled Congressional meetings for visiting East Timorese government leaders.
  • Worked with the East Timorese government, members of Congress, State Department and INS officials to protest new onerous restrictions on East Timorese applying for U.S. visas. This baseless policy has hampered educational and cultural exchanges with East Timor. The administration has indicated a willingness to change the policy.

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Keeping up the Pressure

  • Monitored the West Timor refugee situation and protested the Indonesian government and International Organization for Migration September 1 cut-off of repatriation assistance for East Timorese refugees.
  • Worked with non-governmental organizations based in the U.S., Indonesia and East Timor to raise concerns with the UN regarding East Timorese residing in Indonesia, especially the children separated from their parents in 1999.
  • Sponsored national days of action, including April 14, East Timor’s first presidential election, and May 20, Independence Day. Worked with grassroots activists to capitalize on media coverage of these events. ETAN members in 18 cities in 14 states contacted media and organized vigils or parties for Independence Day. The Madison, WI and Berkeley, CA city councils passed resolutions that honored East Timor’s independence and called for an international tribunal, attention to the refugee crisis, and continued U.S. support for East Timor.
  • Helped draft, circulate and publicize two public statements calling for an international tribunal for East Timor. A legal community statement garnered more than 60 signatories from 12 countries. A women’s statement highlighting the many atrocities committed against East Timorese women and girls garnered more than 125 signatories from 14 countries and 22 U.S. states.
  • Organized demonstrations and vigils at the Indonesian Embassy and consulates and elsewhere to protest the lack of accountability for East Timor atrocities, ongoing rights violations throughout Indonesia (including those involving U.S.-based petroleum company ExxonMobil), and East Timor’s refugee crisis. International, national and local media covered these events.
  • Coordinated the International Campaign for a Debt-free, Structural Adjustment-free East Timor, including the release of joint alerts with Jubilee USA and the international Jubilee network. The campaign urged donor nations to pledge generous, condition-free grants at East Timor’s May donors’ conference and educated on the economic issues facing East Timor.
  • Submitted testimony to Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in July, supporting East Timor’s right to oil and gas resources within its sea boundaries as determined by international law, and reminding the Australian government of the importance of these resources to the still-devastated country.
  • Organized and participated in protests and audience questions at public appearances by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; called for accountability for the U.S. role in Indonesia’s 1975 invasion of East Timor and support for the military occupation.
  • Organized, in consultation with groups in East Timor, international, national and local responses to the first verdicts announced by the Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court in August. ETAN protested the court’s acquittal of six Indonesian security officers through statements, the media, lobbying meetings and letters to administration officials. ETAN publicized statements by East Timorese organizations and coalitions.

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Providing Resources and Information

  • Hosted a February and March cross-country speaking tour on women’s issues and justice with Filomena Barros dos Reis of the NGO Forum and REDE Feto (the East Timorese women’s network). Speaking events took place in 22 cities in 16 states.
  • Issued numerous action alerts received by tens of thousands across the U.S. Increased the number of organizations redistributing our alerts.
  • Wrote and disseminated media releases, reports and photographs. ETAN answered media queries and gave interviews on issues and events including military assistance, Indonesia’s ad hoc Human Rights Court, a debt-free East Timor, independence, the UN Human Rights Commission, kidnapped East Timorese children still in Indonesia, the Bali bombing, Secretary of State Powell’s Asia visit and the U.S. undermining of the International Criminal Court.
  • Published three issues of the Estafeta, our national newsletter, including a special independence edition.
  • Worked with the National Security Archive to publicize documents detailing then-President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger’s green light to Indonesia to invade East Timor in 1975.
  • Assisted several documentary filmmakers with projects including PBS’s “The Genocide Factor,” “The Trials of Henry Kissinger” and “East Timor: Betrayal and Resurrection.”
  • Managed several important East Timor and Indonesia email lists, providing detailed and timely information for hundreds of policymakers, journalists and activists. For information on how to subscribe to these lists, send a blank email to
  • Enhanced and expanded our web site (, a frequently-updated source of news and information about East Timor and U.S. policy in the region. ETAN also maintains the web sites of La’o Hamutuk, the East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis, and the International Federation for East Timor.
  • Added new videos, books, and other resources to our store. For a full list of ETAN resources, see
  • Provided information for skilled volunteers seeking placements in East Timor.
  • Hosted, coordinated and promoted speaking events for visitors from East Timor, including Yohan (Bibi Bulak theater and public education group), Aderito de Jesus Soares (Sa’he Institute for Liberation and the East Timor Jurists’ Association), and longtime activist and East Timorese diplomat Constâncio Pinto.
  • Wrote and assisted with op-ed pieces, articles, and letters in local, national and international newspapers. Articles written by ETAN appeared in a wide range of newsletters and magazines.
  • Began organizing a national speaking tour on economic and international justice issues with Yayasan HAK Program Director José Luis de Oliveira. The tour has been delayed until spring 2003 due to new U.S. visa restrictions for East Timorese men. ETAN continues to protest this new visa policy (see above).

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Strengthening the movement

  • Networked with women’s studies departments, women’s rights organizations and feminist groups around ETAN’s speaking tour on justice and women’s issues.
  • Traveled throughout the U.S. to increase awareness and strengthen interest and support in university and community settings. ETAN staff gave presentations and did outreach in Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington, DC, Wisconsin and elsewhere. Led a workshop at the Campus Greens 2002 national conference.
  • Worked with Jubilee USA, the international Jubilee network, 50 Years is Enough Network, Bank Information Center, Development GAP in the U.S.; Focus on the Global South in the Philippines; and La’o Hamutuk in East Timor on economic justice issues. ETAN became a member of the Jubilee USA coalition. Aderito de Jesus Soares spoke on the keynote panel at the September Washington, DC “Global Struggles Against the IMF and World Bank” conference.
  • Co-founded Kissinger Watch to promote holding the infamous U.S. war criminal accountable.
  • Worked with IHRN, School of the Americas Watch, Peace Action, Amnesty International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, American Friends Service Committee, and many other local, national and international peace, religious and social justice groups to oppose military assistance for Indonesia.
  • Leafletted during the April demonstrations in Washington and November’s demonstration at the School of the Americas.
  • Held a national strategy conference in California in January. ETAN activists from ten states reviewed the current situation in East Timor and for ETAN, and developed an organizational action plan for 2002.
  • Organized a strategy retreat in New York in September to review organizational and campaign directions.
  • Updated ETAN’s chapter and key contact list and reorganized our steering committee.
  • Began working with the NGO Committee on Human Rights at the UN and the International Commission on Transitional Justice in New York to more effectively advocate for justice for East Timor.
  • Provided information and support to newly interested and existing members.

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Thinking and acting globally

  • Carried out extensive consultations with grassroots groups in East Timor — including labor, environmental, human rights, women’s rights, and student organizations — to strengthen relationships, learn more about their work, and solicit their input on ETAN’s future campaigns.
  • Raised concerns regarding World Bank administration of a multilateral trust fund to support East Timor’s post-independence budget. ETAN originally urged the UN to continue in this role. After the UN declined to do so, ETAN began to monitor the World Bank’s administration of donor funds.
  • Provided information and support to journalists, ETAN members and others traveling to East Timor.
  • Supported ETAN/Madison’s sister city relationship with Ainaro, including its first delegation to East Timor in June. Assisted groups in Oregon and Seattle working to establish sister relationships with communities and schools in East Timor.
  • Represented IFET at the UN and drafted and disseminated IFET materials.

  • Arranged meetings between UN staff and East Timorese, and consulted with UN staff and diplomats.
  • Continued to work closely with the Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor and other international organizations.
  • Disseminated information from East Timorese groups, including REDE Feto, the NGO Forum, Rate Laek, La’o Hamutuk, and the East Timor National Alliance for an International Tribunal.

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Supporting democracy and human rights in Indonesia

  • Worked closely with IHRN and other Asia-focused rights groups to counter the administration’s attempts to make Indonesia a front in the “war against terror,” raising human rights and accountability issues.
  • Assisted a Papuan delegation at the UN, which urged re-examination of the UN endorsement of the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” used to justify Indonesia’s annexation of Papua. ETAN also wrote to the UN requesting a review of the Act.
  • Assisted human rights and political leaders from Papua and Aceh to raise military ties and basic human rights issues with members of Congress and administration officials.
  • Worked with Indonesian civil society, humanitarian and human rights groups to circulate and publicize their letter to the U.S. Congress urging maintenance of restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia.
  • Facilitated a seminar on Aceh at the New School University in New York in September.

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Financial Report, Calendar Year 20021

At the end of 2002, 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 ETAN chapters raise and spend their own funds.

Financial Report, Calendar Year 2002





Grants (2)

$ 12,155



Donations (3)












Bank charges & interest




Speaking tours








Estafeta newsletter  




Phone & internet 














9,600 (6,408)

Equipment & supplies  




National Meeting




Travel     1,668 (1,668)
Other 1,391 1,119 272





Notes to financial report
1 This report is being prepared in November; many figures are estimates.
2 Expenses related to grants are the handling fees charged by our fiscal sponsor.
3 Expenses related to donations are primarily costs of fund appeal and annual report printing and mailing.
4 The net loss in funds ETAN experienced in 2002 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," with "ETAN/U.S." in the memo line. Donations can be mailed to ETAN’s Field Office or charged on-line at ETAN’s website, at

ETAN gratefully acknowledges grants during 2002 from, the Leo J. and Celia Carlin Fund, the Kaplan Foundation, Essential Information, and the Tides Foundation Rapid Response Fund.

East Timor Action Network/U.S.

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