Reflections, Reminiscences and Comments on ETAN at 20
(additional comments here)
These are only part of the
story, we would love to here yours,
email us. We urge you to
contribute your reflections on the role solidarity over
the past two decades and in the coming years.
The reflections on this page are the
author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETAN.
I am very happy to join you in
celebrating your 20th anniversary. ETAN has been in the
forefront of global campaigning in support of the tireless
struggle of the people of East Timor. It has kept us all
informed of everything happening to the people of East Timor
and pointing us in the direction of what needs to be done.
Campaigning to end Indonesia's brutal
occupation of East Timor inspired many groups of activists
here in the UK where it was closely linked to the campaign
to end British arms sales to the Indonesian dictatorial
regime. For many years, East Timor was one of the foremost
issues among human rights activists and NGOs in the UK which
also had a major impact in reinforcing concerns about human
rights in general across the country.
We in TAPOL salute ETAN on its 20th
anniversary and hope that we together, acting in solidarity
with the people of Timor-Leste as they build a new country
and at the same time press for an end to impunity to ensure
that the many military personnel who perpetrated crimes
against humanity against the Timorese people during the
occupation are brought to account.
Read additional reflections on ETAN's
Congratulations to ETAN on the occasion of its 20th
I was involved in the East
Timor Independence Committee here in Aotearoa for
many years, and have now worked with the successor
Indonesia Human Rights Committee since 2000I
have lots of good memories of working with you over
the last twenty years. I greatly value your
postings, your website, the joint representations
and letters. I can always rely on your information,
and I cannot understate the importance of that to a
small organisation such as ours.
years ago, “Action” and “Network” were prescient
choices in the title of ETAN. With a fraction the
resources of other human rights organizations, ETAN
is an impressive network of canny, dedicated people
and organizations. Their work affecting US military
policy alone gives them giant creds. I am inspired
by working with the stellar activists of ETAN.
Country Specialist, Indonesia and
Amnesty International USA
Congratulations on the 20th anniversary
of ETAN! I am sending this greeting from a very hot city of
Dili. I feel as if I myself were a member of ETAN, because
we have been working for East Timor for such a long time and
also because now I am in close contact with Jill Sternberg
and Charlie Scheiner in Dili.
We, the international solidarity
groups, have to renew our commitment to the issue of East
Timor. As the time passes, the human rights issues,
especially the serious crimes committed during the
Indonesian time, are being neglected, which makes the
healing the victims' wounds more and more difficult. I
always think that I myself have to work more on these
issues, but I tend to concentrate on the development
projects and other activities, leaving the more important
human rights issues behind.
This opportunity of the celebration of
the 20th anniversary of ETAN serves me as a precious time of
reflection on the priority among the works I am doing now. I
thank you for that and pray very much that the ETAN
continues its valuable contribution to the never-ending
issue of East Timor.
Catholic East Timor Association - Japan
celebrate our 20th Anniversary.
With your help, we can put ETAN on a firmer footing for the
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
at Australian Embassy, Washington, DC
ETAN puts into
practice my belief that those of us living in countries
where human rights are relatively well protected have an
obligation to exercise those rights on behalf of people
who live in countries where they aren’t. I am still
amazed at what ETAN was able to accomplish in the 1990s
in making Indonesia more accountable for its actions
through its lobbying efforts in Washington and its
awareness campaigns. I don’t think President Habibie
would have considered an independence referendum had it
not been for the years of pressure being exerted on
Indonesia through Congressional committees and the
constant annoying exposure of its human rights abuses in
Timor-Leste and elsewhere.
When the opportunity suddenly
arose for the Timorese to express their will, ETAN
played a lead role with other solidarity groups in
organizing the IFET election observer mission, of which
I was a part, in an impossible time frame. Our presence
there showed that we stood beside them at their moment
of destiny and their exuberant expressions of gratitude
was humbling, even though most of us share pangs of
guilt for not being able to support during the violence
that followed the vote.
Since then, ETAN has tirelessly
promoted justice, peace and self-sufficiency, working
alongside civil society in Timor-Leste. A great
and Eliot Hoffman at ETAN lit table.
pour Timor" (Act for Timor) in France had been launched in
1989, two years before ETAN, when the Pope was visiting
Dili. A small group of activists, most of them former
members of the
Association de Solidarité avec Timor-Oriental (ASTO),
thought that the critical situation of the Timorese people
needed ongoing action in relation to the media and to the
other French NGOs and human rights defenders. I was one of
those activists, along with Antonio, Bruno, Olivier, Cecile,
Alexandre, Filipe, Pascal ... We immediately started to
participate in international meetings, in order to
coordinate our actions. I remember the London and Amsterdam
The birth of ETAN was a great sign of hope: We all knew how
important was the American support for Indonesia and for the
Suharto regime, and we recognized an absolute need to focus
American public opinion to neutralize the Indonesian
embassies’ propaganda in our own countries.
Let me remember here two friends we have lost recently:
Umar Said, an Indonesian journalist and refugee in France
since the 1970s, was involved in the first meetings against
the military invasion in early 1976 and attended the May 20,
2002, independence ceremony in Timor-Leste. He passed away
in October (http://timor-france1.blogspot.com/).
I am preparing a film about him and the cooperative
restaurant called “Indonesia," here in Paris, which he
launched almost 30 years ago with Indonesian exiles and some
French friends and which is still open every day.
Danielle Mitterrand, former French first lady in the 1980s
and early 1990s and founder of the
France-Liberté foundation, she was
"one of ours." At the behest of Jakarta, the Philippine
government refused her entry in 1994 to participate in a
regional conference on Timor in Manila. She participated in
the first National Congress for Timorese
Reconstruction meeting held in
Dili in August 2000. She passed away last month (http://timor-france2.blogspot.com/2011/11/danielle-pour-memoire.html.
Long live ETAN !
Health Alliance International (HAI) has been working to
support health care in Timor-Leste since early 1999. Our
initial involvement there during that horrendous, chaotic
year was informed and strengthened at every step by the
support and encouragement of the Seattle ETAN group. Led by
a small, incredibly energetic and dedicated group, they were
in constant motion – staying on top of the latest
developments in the country, presenting informational
meetings for the general public, sending out notices as the
situation changed. I was astounded, a year or two later, to
find that none of the key ETAN leadership had ever been to
East Timor, but were simply so incensed at the treatment of
the Timorese that they were determined to help change the
past nearly 13 years of efforts to strengthen the country’s
health system, it is rare that we encounter a topic of vital
interest to the country that ETAN has not already studied
and published on the east-timor listserv. It is the only
progressive voice that consistently and reliably takes the
perspective of the well-being of the Timorese people in its
analysis of the many ups and downs of that new country. HAI
congratulates ETAN on its 20th Anniversary with
great appreciation. We look forward to your continued
service to the Timorese people.
Senior MMCH/FP Program Advisor
Health Alliance International
importance of ETAN for me, as an activist with Australians
For a Free East Timor (AFFET) in Darwin, Australia, before
the referendum in August 1999, was "reg.easttimor", the
comprehensive email news list of world-wide newspapers
articles, reports and UN resolutions relating to the
struggle which contributed to our knowledge of the situation
within East Timor and of what international activist groups
were campaigning on. Since the referendum I still read
ETAN's news list and also often refer to the archives on
etan.org as I write up stories about the struggle.
Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance and
been inspirational in raising awareness of the
situation in East Timor (and later West Papua) over
the past 20 years, and, since independence, have
made a valuable contribution to rebuilding the new
nation through the ETAN news service that increases
opportunities for organisations and individuals to
cooperate in many initiatives in health, education,
justice, agriculture, music, literature and art.
Deputy Convenor Friends of Same, Australia
I would like
to commend ETAN for its exemplary work in promoting
justice and development in East Timor, which -
despite its natural resources - remains one of the
poorest countries of the world.
The extensive archiving of items
about East Timor in the print and other media after
the tragic event of the Santa Cruz Massacre in
November 1991 greatly facilitated the research I was
undertaking for a doctoral thesis on the sorry
situation prevailing in East Timor. These archives
helped me greatly with my presentation of the
response of the Catholic Church - in East Timor and
internationally - to the ongoing suffering of the
East Timorese people under the oppressive Indonesian
regime which was the subject of that thesis, and
subsequently of a book '"The Heaviest Blow" - The
Catholic Church and the East Timor Issue' (LIT
Verlag 2004). 'ETAN documents' are cited frequently
in that work.
There is no doubt in my mind that
the contribution of ETAN to the eventual liberation
of East Timor was significant.
I am also in admiration of the
continuing effort made by ETAN to keep the needs of
the East Timorese people before the attention of
national leaders and the international public, and
by the support it has given to the institutional,
economic, and social development of the young
on your 20th Anniversary. May you continue your good
work for as long as 'the struggle continues'.
Fr Pat Smythe
never heard of East Timor. However, after listening
to an account of the Santa Cruz massacre on
Democracy Now, I made a donation to ETAN. Some
months later, I received a call from Kristin Sundell,
asking if I'd host Constancio Pinto as a speaker. It
wasn't a good time for me, but Kristin persisted, so
I agreed. I pulled out all the stops, getting media
interviews, setting up a public presentation,
invitations for Constancio to speak to college
classes and a labor gathering, etc.
Constancio's humility touched me.
At a public talk he gave, someone asked if there
would be a bloodbath if Indonesia pulled out. I'll
never forget his reply: "I have forgiven my
torturers, and I hope every East Timorese can do the
That gave me the energy to work
hard on legislation and public opinion for East
Timor's freedom for several years, including two
conferences/lobbying events in Washington, where I
found more receptiveness in congressional offices
than on many other issues I've tackled. Throughout
this time, ETAN produced a steady supply of useful
information. I would say that ETAN was one of the
best-organized and effective groups I've worked with
in my 32 years in this position (below).
Following East Timor's
independence, I tried unsuccessfully to get help for
the rebuilding of the country. When ETAN took on the
democratization of Indonesia, I decided to end my
participation with the group, as this was not a
direction I had the energy for.
Commission on Peace and Justice
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
More to come. We welcome your contribution.