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East Timor Action Network  
2003 Annual Report

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For ETAN and East Timor, 2003 was a year of consolidation, as the newly-independent nation worked to build and strengthen its institutions with limited resources. For Indonesia, the military continued to reassert itself, as the prospects of genuine reform receded even further and military terror increased in Aceh and Papua.

In August, Indonesia’s Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor finished its trials. The court acquitted 12 Indonesian military and police officers of charges of crimes against humanity committed in 1999 and convicted six, with all but one sentenced to less than the minimum required by domestic law. All remain free on appeal, and none are expected to spend a day in prison. The court succeeded in establishing a revisionist history that exonerated the Indonesian military and government of any wrong-doing in East Timor. Many high-level suspects retain influential positions in Indonesia. The highest-ranking officer tried in Jakarta missed a number of court appearances because of his leading role in implementing martial law in Aceh. The chief of police in East Timor in 1999 now has the same role in Papua, where a notorious East Timorese militia leader has organized paramilitary groups similar to those in East Timor.

Meanwhile, the joint UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) indicted a number of senior Indonesian officials for crimes against humanity. The refusal of Indonesia to cooperate or extradite suspects, and the failure of the international community to pressure Indonesia to do so, mean that of the 367 people indicted so far, 280 remain out-of-reach in Indonesia.

In 2003, ETAN focused on justice and maintaining restrictions on U.S.-Indonesia military relations, challenging increased assistance to the Indonesian military (TNI) in the name of the “war on terror.” Reflecting the priorities of our partners in East Timor and Indonesia, ETAN reiterated its criticism of Indonesia’s sham court on East Timor. Echoing the grassroots demand heard overwhelmingly throughout East Timor, ETAN continued to press for an international tribunal as the best way to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed from 1975 to 1999. ETAN also continued to raise the need for accountability for the U.S. role in supporting Indonesia’s invasion and occupation.

The year began with the Senate voting down an initiative to restrict the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program for Indonesia and ended with both houses of Congress reversing themselves and agreeing to restrict IMET, just weeks after President Bush publicly predicted Congress would drop them. The TNI is responsible for numerous acts of state terror against civilian populations in East Timor, Aceh, Papua and other areas of the Indonesian archipelago. Indonesia’s access to IMET was denied primarily because of its lack of progress in investigating the murder of two U.S. citizens and an Indonesian in an ambush in Papua. The Indonesian police and local NGOs have accused the military of carrying out the attack.

Through legislation, letters, speeches and other pressure points, Congress continued to express concern about the failure to hold accountable high-ranking members of the military for serious human rights violations in East Timor and Indonesia and the imposition of martial law in Aceh. Because of this, restrictions on Foreign Military Financing of weapons sales to Indonesia remain in place, as does a ban on export licenses for lethal defense articles. However, the Bush administration did provide some training for the TNI through other programs, as well as tens of millions of dollars worth of assistance to the often-brutal police.

This year, ETAN also helped launch an international effort to pressure Australia to deal fairly with East Timor in negotiations to determine the international maritime boundary between the two nations within three years and to stop Australia from stealing billions of dollars in revenue before a permanent boundary is established. At stake in these negotiations are East Timor's rights as a sovereign nation to establish national boundaries and to benefit from its own resources. Australia has said that boundary negotiations may take up to thirty years, which could result in a loss of tens of billion of dollars in future revenue for East Timor, the poorest country in Asia, especially as petroleum resources will likely be depleted by then.

ETAN continued to assist East Timorese NGOs in monitoring and pressuring the international institutions – such as the World Bank and the United Nations - which continue to play a critical role in nearly every aspect of the new nation. ETAN helped give voice to East Timorese critiques of U.S. economic assistance.

In an ETAN-sponsored speaking tour, long-time East Timorese rights advocate José Luis de Oliveira spoke on issues of economic justice and human rights. The co-founder of two of the most important East Timorese rights groups, he is executive director for Perkumpulan HAK (The Association for Human Rights, Law and Justice), East Timor's premier human rights organization.

At the beginning of 2003, formal refugee status ended for East Timorese in Indonesia, most of them in West Timor. ETAN remains concerned that many of the refugees have been coerced to stay by overt threats or deliberate misinformation. At the same time, anti-independence paramilitary groups across the border in West Timor pose an increasing security threat to East Timor’s peace and stability, especially as the UN ends its mission in May 2004.

ETAN also highlighted the plight of East Timorese children forcibly separated from their families by militia and their affiliates now living in Indonesia. ETAN pressed international agencies and the Indonesian and U.S. governments to actively work to reunite the children with their relatives in East Timor.

ETAN worked with others to oppose the declaration of martial law in Aceh and the use of U.S.-supplied weapons in the conflict, Indonesia’s largest military operation since the 1975 invasion of East Timor. Renewed interest in restricting U.S. military assistance to Indonesia came with the scuttling of the five-month, internationally-supported ceasefire between the Indonesian government and the rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM). ETAN played a key role in promoting a Congressional resolution calling for a ceasefire, an end to human rights violations, and a return to negotiations with significant involvement from Acehnese civil society and the international community.

On these and other issues, ETAN continued to mobilize grassroots activists to write letters, hold vigils, call and meet with members of Congress, and organize community events. ETAN activists rose to the occasion, effectively building awareness and support.

Funding this important work remained a challenge. To that end, 2003 was also a year of consolidation for ETAN. We reduced our staff by one full-time position, as Diane Farsetta, ETAN’s wonderful Field Organizer, sought other opportunities.

In May 2002, as ETAN congratulated the East Timorese on independence, we promised to continue working for justice, sustainable development and an accurate accounting of the U.S. role in supporting Indonesia’s invasion and occupation, to prevent U.S. government policies from causing other people to suffer as the East Timorese have.

The role of international solidarity with East Timor did not end with independence, as friends in East Timor have stated repeatedly. A strong ETAN is needed to meet coming challenges. For East Timor, these include the need for comprehensive justice; proper borders for the new nation; and genuine self-determination in the face of powerful, often U.S.-led political and economic pressures. Vigilant opposition to U.S. military engagement is necessary to ensure security for East Timor and an end to state-sponsored terror in Indonesia.

Below, you will find highlights of ETAN’s 2003 activities. Please generously renew your financial, activist and other support of our work, so that 2004 will be as productive.

A luta continua – the struggle continues!

Keeping Up the Pressure

  • Held our tenth annual “Lobby Days” in June together with IHRN. In one of the largest turnouts yet, 54 activists from throughout the U.S., East Timor, Indonesia, Maluku and Aceh met with 155 Congressional offices. The advocates built support for justice for East Timor, an end to a massive military campaign in Aceh, and maintenance of human rights restrictions on U.S. military assistance for Indonesia. ETAN activists and staff maintained regular contact with numerous Congressional offices throughout the year.
  • Campaigned to stop Australia from stealing billions of dollars from East Timor in oil and gas revenue in the Timor Sea. ETAN drafted and released a letter signed by 100 organizations in 19 countries to Australian Prime Minister John Howard, urging Australia to agree to a permanent maritime boundary within three years, and in doing so, to respect international law and to treat East Timor fairly. The letter received widespread press coverage. ETAN issued a press release on January 26, an Australian holiday, demanding that Australia stop bullying East Timor.
  • Organized - in consultation with groups in East Timor - international, national and local responses to the final verdict announced by the Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court in August. ETAN protested the court’s acquittals and light sentences through statements, the media, letters to officials, and various meetings.
  • Led the fight to oppose Bush administration attempts to step up military assistance to Indonesia in the name of the “war on terror.” Working with other organizations and Congress, ETAN and others succeeded in maintaining human rights conditions restricting foreign military financing and the licensing of lethal defense articles for export to Indonesia for fiscal year 2004. The Senate and House also restricted International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia. Funds were originally appropriated for IMET for Indonesia for fiscal year 2003 but Congress later blocked their expenditure due to human rights and justice concerns.
  • Coordinated phone calls to almost every Representative on the IMET debate and assisted with talking points for friends in Congress to restrict IMET for Indonesia.
  • Assisted efforts in Washington by survivors and family members of victims of the August 2002 ambush near the Freeport mine in Papua, which killed two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian, to press for justice and restriction of military assistance for Indonesia in meetings with Congress and the administration. The Indonesian military is implicated in the ambush.
  • Helped draft and campaigned for numerous letters from Senators and Representatives to the Bush administration, Indonesian government officials, Malaysian government, and other members of Congress on matters including U.S.-Indonesia military ties, Acehnese refugees in Malaysia, release of U.S. government documents to shed light on the U.S. role in the invasion and occupation of East Timor, and an international tribunal for East Timor.
  • Worked with Congressional offices to include language on human rights in East Timor and Indonesia in relevant authorization and appropriations legislation, and worked with offices to question administration officials on these issues.
  • Drafted recommendations for the U.S. State Department regarding the 59th session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, worked with Representatives on a congressional letter to coincide with these recommendations, and monitored and responded to Commission proceedings.
  • Helped draft and push for a Congressional resolution calling for an end to martial law and human rights violations in Aceh, and a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
  • Helped organize NGO letters to Secretary of State Colin Powell prior to his participation in the June meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and prior to the December gathering of Indonesia’s donor at the Consultative Group on Indonesia.
  • Held discussions on East Timor and Indonesia with a range of officials from the State Department, National Security Council, U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank, and the UN.
  • Coordinated monthly updates on Indonesia and East Timor for key Congressional offices.
  • Assisted human rights and political leaders from Papua and Aceh to raise concerns regarding U.S. military assistance and basic human rights issues with members of Congress, administration officials, and the UN. This included scheduling Hill visits for several activists.
  • Provided critiques of U.S. economic assistance programs in East Timor to U.S. officials.
  • Organized State Department visits for East Timorese activists focused on justice.
  • Organized a House of Representatives briefing with East Timorese human rights lawyer Aderito de Jesus Soares on human rights and justice.
  • Assisted in organization of a Human Rights Caucus briefing on Aceh in the House of Representatives.
  • Worked to secure Senate language on the need for Australia to expeditiously negotiate a permanent maritime boundary with East Timor in good faith and according to international legal principles and pursued other congressional initiatives on this topic.
  • Liaised with East Timor’s diplomatic representatives to the U.S.
  • Met with East Timor’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, President Xanana Gusmao, and Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta in East Timor and when they traveled to the U.S., as well as with Bishop Basilio Nascimento.
  • Pressed for U.S. and international support for the joint UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit’s indictment of high-ranking Indonesian officials for crimes against humanity in 1999, including former military head and now presidential candidate General Wiranto.
  • Monitored the ending of official refugee status for East Timorese remaining in camps in West Timor.
  • Pressured Indonesia to actively work to reunite children separated from their families in 1999. ETAN drafted and released a letter signed by 66 organizations in 16 countries urging Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to display the political will to free children from militia-affiliated institutions.
  • Organized demonstrations and vigils at the UN, Indonesian Embassy and consulates and other locations, including during visits by Indonesia’s President Megawati and Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to protest the lack of accountability for East Timor atrocities, the declaration of martial law in Aceh, and the proposed division of Papua.
  • Distributed leaflets on justice for East Timor, as well as the link between the “war on terror” and increased U.S. assistance for the Indonesian military, for various antiwar demonstrations; issued a joint leaflet with IHRN on justice for East Timor and martial law in Aceh for use at demonstrations and conferences; and tabled at various anti-war and economic justice conferences and events.
  • Helped arrange Acehnese speakers at the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition annual 24-hour vigil in Washington.

Providing Resources and Information

  • Organized a February cross-country speaking tour, “Economic Justice and Human Rights for East Timor: The Debt That Must Be Paid” on justice and sustainable development with José Luis de Oliveira of the HAK Association, East Timor’s largest and oldest human rights organization. Speaking events took place in nine cities in seven states. (New York’s blizzard forced the cancellation of two events.) ETAN also arranged for José to give and receive briefings, exchange ideas, and make connections with a wide range of NGOs working on economic justice, labor, sustainable development, various solidarity movements, and legal justice during a week in Washington prior to the start of the tour. He also met with Congress, Bush administration and other government officials, as well as the media. His visit was covered in the Washington Post. Jose Luis was accompanied by long-time East Timor activist Pamela Sexton, recently returned from three years working with NGOs in East Timor, who interpreted and presented her own thoughts and experiences. An audio CD of his talk in New York is available from ETAN.
  • Issued numerous action alerts received by tens of thousands across the U.S.
  • Wrote and disseminated media releases, reports and photographs. ETAN answered numerous media queries and gave or arranged interviews on issues and events including military assistance to Indonesia, Indonesia’s ad hoc Human Rights Court and other justice issues, a debt-free East Timor, the Bali bombing, President Bush’s Asia visit, and the anniversaries of independence and the 1975 invasion of East Timor. Interviews took place on Democracy Now!, the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Company, WBAI, KPFK and elsewhere.
  • Published Estafeta, our national newsletter.
  • Coordinated meetings for award-winning East Timorese journalist Jose Antonio Belo to interview members of Congress and others on their support for East Timor. The interviews will help form the basis of a documentary for television broadcast in East Timor.
  • Helped to put together a “most wanted” list and photo collection of those responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.
  • Managed several East Timor and Indonesia news email lists, providing detailed and timely news and analysis for hundreds of policymakers, journalists and activists. For information on how to subscribe to these lists, send a blank email to
  • Continued to expand our web site (, a valuable source of news and information about East Timor, Indonesia and U.S. policy in the region. ETAN also maintains the websites 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. New additions included the books, East Timor: A Rough Passage to Independence by James Dunn, Bishop Belo’s The Road to Freedom, and Helen Hill’s Stirrings of Nationalism in East Timor - Fretilin 1974-1978. New videos include East Timor and U.S. Policy with Noam Chomsky. For a full list of ETAN resources available at our online bookstore, see
  • Provided information for skilled volunteers seeking placements in East Timor and met with a Portuguese member of parliament to discuss East Timor issues.
  • Wrote and assisted with op-ed pieces, articles, and letters in local, national and international newspapers. Articles written by ETAN members appeared in a wide range of newsletters, magazines and internet sites, including Common Dreams, Timor Post, Suara Timor Lorosae, South China Morning Post and CounterPunch.
  • Wrote an article on East Timor and international financial institutions for the book Empty Promises, the IMF, the World Bank, and Planned Failures of Global Capitalism.
  • Hosted discussion and book signing by former Australian diplomat James Dunn.
  • Organized discussion by ETAN activists Charles Scheiner and Jill Sternberg on a return visit from East Timor where they have lived and worked for several years.
  • Assisted the U.S. visit of Lesley McCulloch to New York and Washington organized by IHRN. Lesley, an expert on the Indonesian military in Aceh, had been imprisoned for five months by Indonesia for alleged visa violations.
  • Supported efforts by a U.S.-based fair trade company to market East Timor’s organic coffee. ETAN receives $3 for every pound sold. Order from

Strengthening the Movement

  • Attended an international networking conference in Australia on justice and East Timor. Participants included East Timorese jurists, current and former UN officials, Dili-based prosecutors and human rights advocates, and representatives from solidarity groups.
  • Traveled throughout the U.S. to increase awareness and strengthen interest and support on East Timor and Indonesia in university and community settings. ETAN staff gave presentations and did outreach in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.
  • Drafted, circulated and publicized a public statement from more than 90 leaders of communities of faith calling for an international tribunal for East Timor. The statement was covered by The New York Times, among others.
  • Wrote and circulated sample questions for local activists to ask candidates during 2004 presidential and Congressional elections.
  • Coordinated the Indonesia Working Group, in which Washington, DC-based human rights organizations share strategies and conduct joint advocacy work. Supported a similar effort in New York.
  • Worked with Jubilee USA, the international Jubilee network, 50 Years is Enough Network, Bank Information Center, Development GAP, Solidarity Center, Multinational Monitor, and others in the U.S.; Focus on the Global South in the Philippines; and La’o Hamutuk in East Timor on economic justice issues.
  • Worked with a range of groups including IHRN, School of the Americas Watch, Peace Action, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Labor Rights Fund, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, American Friends Service Committee, Coalition on International Justice, International Human Rights Law Group and other local, national and international peace, religious and social justice groups to oppose U.S. military assistance for Indonesia and support justice for East Timor.
  • Liaised with and provided information to members of the new US-East Timor Society, a U.S.-based group focused on economic assistance and other beneficial relationships between the two countries.
  • Participated in the Washington, DC-based Arms Transfers Working Group.
  • Organized meetings for East Timorese human rights lawyer Aderito Soares with many of the abovementioned organizations, focusing on justice and sustainable development.
  • Networked with Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Open Society Institute and others on issues pertaining to East Timor’s oil and natural gas.
  • Addressed the intersection of militarization and globalization in East Timor and Aceh at a Jubilee USA Network conference on faith in practice. ETAN also participated in a Jubilee USA Network Council meeting, which we joined in 2002.
  • Continued work with Kissinger Watch to disseminate information and encourage actions to hold the infamous U.S. war criminal accountable
  • Held a strategy retreat in Berkeley in March to review organizational structure and campaign strategies.
  • Hosted house parties to educate communities about East Timor and raise funds for ETAN.
  • Discussed greater cooperation and a possible merger with IHRN.
  • Provided information and support to academics, students, the curious and newly interested and existing members.

Thinking and Acting Globally

  • Carried out extensive consultations with grassroots groups in East Timor – including labor, environment, sustainable agriculture, human rights, judicial monitoring, women’s rights, and student groups - to strengthen relationships, learn more about their work and exchange ideas, and solicit their input on ETAN’s campaigns.
  • Gave presentations for Dili-based NGOs on U.S. and international policy toward East Timor and on justice - as part of ETAN’s effort to strengthen partnerships with East Timorese groups.
  • Met with international and national actors in East Timor, including staff from East Timor’s ministries of health; foreign affairs; transport, communication and public works; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; the UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit; the Timor Sea Office; and the UN human rights and political affairs units.
  • Worked with the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor in its efforts to research the U.S. role in East Timor, including the Commission’s standing request to the Bush administration to declassify key documents containing information about U.S. support for atrocities committed during the Indonesian occupation.
  • Provided information and support to journalists, ETAN members and others traveling to East Timor.
  • Supported ETAN/Madison’s sister city relationship with Ainaro, East Timor, and assisted groups in Oregon and Seattle working to establish sister relationships with communities and schools in East Timor.
  • Represented the International Federation for East Timor (IFET) at the UN.
  • Organized a press conference at the UN to call for justice on East Timor’s Independence Day with former UN mission head Ian Martin and East Timorese lawyer Aderito de Jesus Soares.
  • Helped draft and disseminate IFET materials, including open letters to the UN Security Council and Xanana Gusmao.
  • Arranged meetings between UN staff and East Timorese visitors, and consulted with UN staff and diplomats.
  • Continued to work with the Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor, Tapol and other international organizations doing solidarity work on East Timor and Indonesia.
  • Amplified the voices of East Timorese NGOs by disseminating statements and 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, addressing such issues as justice, U.S. aid, the future of the UN, the war in Iraq, and East Timor’s agreement exempting the U.S. from the International Criminal Court.
  • Supported efforts to modify East Timor’s new immigration law to permit greater political rights for all.

Financial Report, Calendar Year 2003

At the end of 2003, ETAN/U.S. had two paid staff, Washington Coordinator Karen Orenstein and Media/Outreach Coordinator John M. Miller. Megan Case worked as a part-time bookkeeper. Field Organizer Diane Farsetta left staff at mid-year. We continue to 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.

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 “A.J. Muste Memorial Institute,” with “ETAN/U.S.” in the memo line. Donations can be mailed to ETAN’s DC Office or charged on-line at ETAN’s website,

Financial Report, Calendar Year 2003





Donations (1)

14,579 2061 12,518


36,226   36,226





Speaking tours

2825 9676 (6851)





Estafeta newsletter  




Phone & internet 

  5098 (5098)


  323 (323)


  670 (670)


  7222 (7222)

Equipment & supplies  

  1852 (1852)

National Meetings

  3968 (3968)
Travel     1288 (1288)
Other 127 876 (749)


56,039 100,072 -44,033

Notes to financial report

1 Expenses related to donations are primarily costs of fund appeal and annual report printing and mailing.
2 The net loss in funds ETAN experienced in 2003 was covered by funds raised in previous years.

ETAN gratefully acknowledges grants during 2003 from The Foundation for International Scientific Cooperation,, Leo J. and Celia Carlin Fund, Samuel Rubin Foundation and A.J. Muste Memorial Institute.

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 "A.J. Muste Memorial Institute," 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

East Timor Action Network/U.S.

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