|Protest at State Department, Washington, D. C.
November 7, 1998
About 75 people gathered to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Dili massacre, and to call for self-determination for East Timor, the release of political prisoners and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops. (View photos of protest at the State Department.)
Street theatre graphically portrayed ABRI troops beating East Timorese-costumed activists, who rose again to hold up the "signs of the times"... Uncle Sam and an anonymous Indonesian general and Madeleine Albright (life-size) lurked on the sidelines and danced together now and then. State was asked: "Can you read the signs of the times?" And many signs were available to illuminate them, including the huge banner, "East Timor Free Free Free." Free Xanana signs and posters were everywhere. Chants, including "State, Clinton, make that call. What we want's a troop withdrawal" and "Here's a fit of inspiration, end the illegal occupation." A video of clips from the massacre played in the background, until the end, when we played a video of the May protests in Jakarta (full blast with the folk music accompanying). Candles were lit, as Madeleine Albright prepares to leave for the APEC conference tomorrow and Jakarta next week...
The protest was sponsored by School of the Americas Watch, Nicaragua Network, Alliance for Global Justice, Visions in Action, Peace Action Education Fund, Jonah House, Pax Christi Metro DC, Women Strike for Peace, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Baltimore Emergency Response Network, and the East Timor Action Network.
This protest was part of a worldwide commemoration of the 1991 massacre of over 270 East Timorese civilians by Indonesian troops at Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor. An international campaign to free Xanana Gusmao was also being launched today.
On December 7, 1975, the Indonesian military brutally invaded East Timor. The following July, East Timor was illegally but formally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th province." The U.N. and most of the world's nations do not recognize this act, and the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more than 200,000-- one-third of the population have been killed by the Indonesian occupation forces.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor and democracy in Indonesia.
ETAN recently released leaked Indonesian military documents which show that troop levels increased in East Timor, despite Indonesian government claims of withdrawals totaling 1000 troops this summer.