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Protesters hold a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. mission in Dili Tuesday July 4, 2000, demanding an official apology for Washington's complicity in Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) 

The 1975-1999 Alliance for Justice

For Immediate Release 
10pm, July 4, 2000, Dili, East Timor

Contact: Nuno Rodrigues (Dili), Mobile phone: (61)(407)182-613 

East Timorese Protest at July 4 Party at U.S. Mission in East Timor 

Protesters Demand Apology and Reparations from the U.S. for Washington's Support for Indonesian Invasion and Occupation of their Country

Over 50 East Timorese held a peaceful demonstration today outside the entrance of the U.S. Mission in Dili, East Timor from 5pm to 7:30pm. Participants sang and lit candles along the street in front of the American diplomatic installation in memory of the more than 200,000 East Timorese who died as a result of the Indonesian invasion and occupation. 

The main purpose of the gathering was to recall the supporting role the United States government played in what many observers have classified as a genocide in East Timor, and to demand justice and accountability for U.S. actions. In doing so, the demonstrators distributed pamphlets to all the attendees of the U.S. independence day party. Titled Honoring the 224th Anniversary of American Independence, 1776-2000 . . . by Remembering 24 Years of U.S. Support for Indonesia's Crimes in East Timor, the pamphlets detailed the complicity of the United States in Indonesia's illegal war and occupation.

The demonstrators made five demands of Washington: 
1) a release of all U.S. government documents relating to East Timor; 

2) the establishment of an independent commission in the United States to investigate the nature and extent of U.S. complicity with Indonesia's crimes in East Timor; 

3) an apology for the U.S. role; 

4) reparations from the U.S. to the people of East Timor; and 

5) active U.S. support for an international tribunal to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975-1999. (See the text of the pamphlet below.)

The 1975-1999 Alliance for Justice is made up of human rights activists, women's rights advocates, students, members of families victimized by Indonesia's war, and others. It works to ensure justice and accountability for the suffering and the destruction that took place in East Timor during the Indonesian invasion and occupation.

Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! interviews Karen Orenstein and East Timorese activist Aderito Soares. Hear the RealAudio. Read the transcript.

Associated Press story on demonstration.

Text of Pamphlet

Download a PDF version of the pamphlet (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, available from

U.S. Policy Toward East Timor
What We Would Like the United States Government to Do

Page 1:

Honoring the 224th Anniversary 
of American Independence, 1776-2000. . . by Remembering 24 Years of U.S. Support for Indonesia's Crimes in East Timor

"You cannot deal with the future unless you also come to terms with the past. . . . Accountability is one of the two or three keys to democracy.'' 
--Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nov. 1999

Page 2:

On July 4, the people of the United States of America celebrate the anniversary of the country's declaration of independence, and their commitment to the principles of democracy and justice for all. It is in this spirit that we congratulate the American people and, at the same time, raise the issue of U.S. complicity in East Timor's suffering. As Ambassador Holbrooke contends, democracy and accountability must go hand-in-hand. While an honest assessment of history and a process of accountability are sometimes uncomfortable, they are vital for the health of all societies. Such a process will help facilitate socio-political healing in East Timor, strengthen American democratic values and institutions, and ensure good future relations between our two countries.

U.S. Policy Toward East Timor, 1975-1999

Many Americans of good will, including some government officials, made important contributions to East Timor's freedom struggle. And today, numerous Americans are helping to rebuild East Timor. While we appreciate such solidarity, we cannot ignore the fact that the overall U.S. policy toward East Timor from 1975 until Sept. 1999 was one of complicity. Indonesia could not have carried out its December 7, 1975 invasion and brutal war of conquest, maintained its almost 24-year-long occupation of East Timor, and waged its final campaign of terror and destruction last September without significant military, economic, and diplomatic backing from the U.S. government. From 1975-1999, the U.S. sold approximately US$1.2 billion worth of weapons to Indonesia, and trained well over 2,600 Indonesian soldiers trained in the U.S., and countless more in Indonesia--including the notorious Kopassus troops. The U.S. also provided over $2 billion in economic aid to Jakarta. Below are some highlights.

December 1975: Only hours after U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger leave Jakarta, the Indonesian military launches a full-scale invasion of East Timor. According to diplomats and CIA officials, Ford and Kissinger gave Indonesian dictator Suharto the green light to invade. During a press conference in Hawaii while returning from Jakarta, Kissinger states that, given a choice between East Timor and Indonesia, the U.S. "had to be on the side of Indonesia." The State Department later reports that 90 percent of the weapons used during the invasion are from the U.S.

Page 3:

December 7, 1975-1976: The U.S. prevents effective United Nations action to end Indonesia's invasion and occupation. As Ford 's U.N. Ambassador, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, later writes, regarding East Timor, "The [US] Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."

January 1976: A U.S. State Department official states that "In terms of the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Indonesia, we are more or less condoning the incursion into East Timor. . . . The United States wants to keep its relations with Indonesia close and friendly. [It's] a nation we do a lot of business with."

1977: President Jimmy Carter increases military aid to Indonesia, authorizing the sale of US$112 million worth of weaponry. Beginning in late 1977, the Indonesian military uses newly-acquired, U.S.-made aircraft to bomb and napalm the East Timorese in refuge in the mountains. Tens of thousands die as a result. An Australian government report describes the period as one of "indiscriminate killing on a scale unprecedented in post-World War II history.''

Nov.-Dec. 1991: On Nov. 12, Indonesian troops fire on an unarmed crowd at Dili's Santa Cruz Cemetery and kill hundreds. On Dec. 10, Bush administration envoys meet with embattled Indonesian military leaders in Java, telling them "we do not believe that friends should abandon friends in times of adversity."

1993-1999: Although pressure grows from the American public and from many in Congress, President Bill Clinton largely continues the policies of his predecessors. His administration authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons sales, provides more than US$500 million in economic aid, and ignores the intent of Congress by providing training to the Indonesian military.

Early Sept. 1999: Despite countless killings and massive destruction by the Indonesian military and their militia, the Clinton administration refuses to end military and economic support for Indonesia. U.S. Ambassador to Jakarta, Stapleton Roy, tells reporters that "Indonesia matters, East Timor does not."

Sept. 10, 1999: In the face of rapidly intensifying public pressure and Congressional outrage, U.S. President Bill Clinton announces a suspension of all U.S. economic aid and military ties to Indonesia.

Page 4:

What We Would Like the United States Government to Do:

1) Release all U.S. government documents relating to East Timor from 1974 through 1999, including intelligence files, transcripts of meetings, and transcripts of intercepted communications between and within the different sectors of the Indonesian military and government;

2) Create an independent commission composed of academic experts on U.S. foreign policy, East Timor and Indonesia, human rights advocates, and international legal specialists with full subpoena power to investigate, analyze, and report on U.S. involvement in Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor and the subsequent occupation;

3) Apologize publicly to the people of East Timorese people for U.S. complicity in the well over 200,000 deaths, massive human suffering and destruction that took place during Indonesia's invasion and occupation; and, on this basis,

4) Begin discussions with representatives from the various sectors of East Timorese society regarding reparations from the United States Government to the people of East Timor; and

5) Actively support the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal to investigate and try those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in East Timor from 1975 through 1999.

"The United States has been directly involved in Indonesia's crimes in East Timor."--Representative Cynthia McKinney (Member of Congress from the State of Georgia), Oct. 1999

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