spacer CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS

Adopted by the 108th Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in June, 1997.


Background

Since Indonesia's brutal invasion and occupation of East Timor in late 1975, more than 200,000 civilians -approximately one third of the entire population - have been killed outright or lost their lives through enforced starvation and other deprivations at the hands of the Indonesian military. No people on earth has seen a greater portion of its population perish under tyranny since the nightmare of the European Holocaust. Despite world outrage over these events, and despite the United Nations resolutions calling for immediate Indonesian withdrawal from East Timor, the occupation, and the cruel abuses of human rights attendant upon it, continue to this day.

For more than twenty years East Timor has now lived under a brutal military occupation. Arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial executions are everyday occurrences, as are programs of compulsory relocation, confinement in concentration camps, and systematic starvation. The occupying forces have deprived the Timorese of the most basic freedoms of expression and assembly; the Timorese language, Tetum, has been suppressed and many forms of cultural expression banned. Political opposition is punished by detention, torture and death. Contact with the outside world has been severely restricted, and were it not for the courage of the several foreign journalists who witnessed the event, even the appalling massacre of more than two hundred peaceful Timorese demonstrators at a Dili cemetery in 1991 would have gone unrecorded and unprotected.

The unfolding human disaster in East Timor has been possible only because Indonesia has been able to conceal its deeds from the eyes of the world. The award of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to two leaders in the East Timorese struggle has drawn significant attention to the plight of their people; but to have moral consequence, that attention must be informed by a knowledge of what is happening in East Timor and what individuals and collective actions can be taken to halt this continuing tragedy.

The United States and other governments, as strategic allies, investment partners and suppliers of weapons to Indonesia, share a measure of responsibility for the tragic situation in East Timor. Ninety percent of the weapons used in the invasion of East Timor were supplied by the United States, which continues to be a major provider of arms and military aid to Indonesia. These governments hold the power to speed an end to the suffering in Timor.

The profound gravity of the crimes committed against the Timorese people constitutes an attempt to commit genocide, by the terms outlined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which the United States is a signatory and to which we as Jews bear a special relation and witness.

A number of religious bodies have taken positions in support of the people of East Timor, and condemning Indonesia for its flagrant, brutal and ongoing violations of human rights in East Timor. The CCAR joins these voices of faith with our own. To that end,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the CCAR join with the United States Catholic Conference [July 1994], the Presbyterian Church (USA) [207 General Assembly July 1995]; the National Council of Churches of Christ [November 1995]; General Conference of the United Methodist Church [April 1996] and individual voices of conscience from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, in deploring the continuing occupation of East Timor by Indonesia, its ongoing abuse of human rights there, and its denial of the fundamental right of self-determination to the Timorese people.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR call upon the government of Indonesia to end its military occupation of East Timor and immediately cease human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, detentions and harassment of the civilian population; and its suppression of freedom of speech and assembly within East Timor and permit free access to representatives of recognized human rights and welfare organizations and UN-designated observers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR further urge the Indonesian government to cooperate in a plan leading to a referendum among the Timorese people to freely decide upon their own government and leadership, such as the plan outlined in the Nobel Peace Prize address of Jose Ramos Horta;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR call upon Indonesia to immediately end its policy of forced translocation of native Timorese people away from their home areas and the systematic relocation of Indonesian emigrants into expropriated Timorese territories in violation of the fourth Geneva Convention and UN Resolution 35/118. Without an immediate end to this transmigration policy, the prospect of genuine Timorese self-determination will quickly be rendered meaningless.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR call upon the US government to immediately cease weapons sales and all forms of military support to the Indonesian government while the occupation of East Timor continues. The US-Indonesia treaty of 1958 explicitly forbids the use of US-supplied weapons for an "act of aggression" and limits their use to "legitimate self-defense." Nonetheless, while Indonesia has not in the past and does not now face any external threats to its own security, there is direct evidence that US weapons have been used against the civilian population of East Timor, and continue to be used there.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR call upon the United States government to insist that Indonesia comply with repeated UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions affirming the "inalienable right of the people of ET to self-determination;" to make such compliance a further condition for all forms of US military and economic support.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR express its admiration for the continuing courage of the people of East Timor in their struggle for justice and self-determination in the face of relentless brutal oppression. The CCAR extends its warm congratulations to Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, Catholic Bishop of East Timor, and to Jose Ramos Horta, co-recipients of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, for their selfless dedication to the cause of their people. The CCAR commends the many human rights activists and organizations around the world for their efforts to inform the world of the human rights abuses in East Timor and to mobilize people of conscience to action on behalf of the East Timorese.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR call upon its rabbis to educate themselves and their congregations on the situation in East Timor; and encourages them to add their voices and energies to those seeking to avert the total annihilation of the East Timorese people and culture. We urge then to make this an issue that will not go away until it is peacefully and justly resolved.

The CCAR was rounded in 1889. Its members are the body of rabbis who consider themselves and are considered to be the organized rabbinate of Reform Judaism.

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