etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

ETAN at 20






Geoff Gunn, Japan and Macau  
Recalling the role of ETAN in raising global solidarity over East Timor self-determination as well as the inter-linked Indonesia democracy question, I think we have to acknowledge the NETWORK part of the acronym as outstanding. Looking back, ETAN was singular among a welter of solidarity groups and individuals in its ability to deploy the then new electronic technology, not only to better share information - still going on - but to focus and channel energy upon the ACTION part of the acronym. To be sure, with its bases in New York and Washington, ETAN was also strategically located when it came to lobbying on international questions.
  The international situation quickly morphed with well known events and developments. ETAN was ahead of the curve on most of these issues.

Myself a relative late-comer to East Timor (I began researching-teaching East Timor at the University of New South Wales from the late-1980s, having earlier been a student/teaching assistant of the late Herbert Feith, famed Australian Indonesianist and peace studies researcher, I was actually living on the island of Borneo when the news of the Santa Cruz massacre broke. But also well positioned to revisit East Timor under Indonesian rule - I had last visited under Portuguese colonialism - I began to draw analogies between life under the gun in Dili and the Nazi occupation of Europe. From then, also visiting Macau on a regular basis, I began to connect with a Timorese diaspora many headed for Portugal as repatriados.

Moving to Japan at the dawn of the age of Internet, ETAN's networking role became even more self-evident. Some of us enjoyed ETAN's hospitality in New York at ritual sessions of the UN Committee on Decolonization. Just as the ETAN "team" became an annual fixture, so it also became an opportunity to meet the "enemy" as it were, alongside an array of East Timorese and international solidarity activists. I must also recall that ETAN helped to launch in New York my [aptly titled] document collection, East Timor and the UN: The Case for Intervention (Red Sea Press, 1997).

The international situation quickly morphed with well known events and developments. ETAN was ahead of the curve on most of these issues, though I think that the fast-moving events flowing from the May 1999 New York meeting, paving the way for the historic ballot, caught some of us by surprise. It is also a great shame upon the international community that, just as they drew lessons from East Timor for future "humanitarian interventions,: they also left East Timor as the exception to the no-more-impunity rule on war crimes and crimes against humanity. Timor-Leste diplomats may recuse themselves but, ultimately, the East Timor people will thank ETAN and its supporters for its dogged and ongoing commitment to justice through a future international trial.

Geoffrey Gunn

Read additional reflections on ETAN's 20th Anniversary

Help ETAN celebrate our 20th Anniversary. Donate today!

Read Noam Chomsky on ETAN's 20th Anniversary

With your help, we can put ETAN on a firmer footing for the future.
 Please give generously in this anniversary year. In doing so, you can help strengthen ETAN to meet the challenges of the coming years.

Read Noam Chomsky on 20 years of ETAN

See also


Search the ETAN site: