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
In 2003, ETAN focused on
justice and maintaining restrictions on
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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 email@example.com.
- Continued to expand our web site (www.etan.org), 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 (www.etan.org/lh)
and the International Federation for East Timor (www.etan.org/ifet).
- 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 www.etan.org.
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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,
Groundspring.org, Leo J. and Celia Carlin Fund,
Samuel Rubin Foundation and A.J. Muste Memorial
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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