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Give to ETAN/SF Book Drive for East Timor

June 2001

Dear Friends of East Timor: 

I am writing to request continued support for the "People's Library of East Timor" and other initiatives to distribute books in East Timor.

Since we began our book drive for East Timor over a year ago, we have collected thousands of volumes which we will soon be sending to the new nation. These include medical textbooks, general volumes in the humanities, books on development and global politics, and much more. We hugely appreciate the tremendous outpouring of donations; your support has provided the basis for a solid base of books in English for both the People's Library of East Timor and the University of East Timor.

Now that we have amassed such a thorough collection of English language books, we have decided that in future we will only send books in English that have been specifically requested by activists in East Timor. Since this will necessitate buying volumes here in the U.S. or in Australia, we are now soliciting donations to the East Timor Book Drive for that purpose. In the near future we also hope to be buying and, eventually, to also finance the printing of Indonesian language books for use in East Timor.

To contribute to this project make check out to 
ETAN/S.F. (with "Book Drive" in memo field) and mail to P.O. Box 420832, San Francisco, CA 94142. 

If you want a tax deduction for the check, make it out to Global Exchange and put "E.Timor Relief/Books" in the memo field.

Thanks in advance for any contributions you can make to this important project.

Sincerely,

Ben Terrall 
East Timor Action Network/San Francisco
510-985-0385 
bterrall@igc.org

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Sahe Institute For Liberation (SIL) 

To: All friends of East Timor Re: Books and materials for a people's library of East Timor

Dear friends,

Finally, the people of East Timor have determined their own fate and chosen to be an independent country. The result of the August 30 direct ballot showed that the vast majority of East Timorese people overwhelmingly rejected continued Indonesian rule.

Twenty four years of fighting, twenty four years of suffering. It has been a long and difficult road. The Indonesian government installed troops and spies in every village and monitored our every movement. We learned to wear a public mask of loyalty to avoid suspicion even as we secretly supported the guerrillas and the clandestine network.

In 1999, the barbarism under which we lived for twenty-four years was on full display. In the presence of United Nations officials, foreign journalists, and international journalists, the Indonesian government murdered and terrorized East Timorese. After the announcement of the ballot results, the Indonesian army of occupation and their militia camp followers looted and burned virtually everything in the country. The world clearly witnessed the bestial nature of the colonizers that have lorded over us since 1975.

The Indonesian colonial government allowed no space for us to develop East Timorese culture. To educate ourselves, we had no other option but to attend Indonesian schools where we learned nothing of our own history, literature, music, and culture. The Indonesian government actively suppressed our culture, to the point of banning books, dances, songs. And then we were told by Indonesian teachers and soldiers that we were primitives who had no culture!

As you know, East Timor is now a devastated land. What little progress we achieved in spite of the military occupation has been destroyed. All of the country's printing presses have been wrecked, all computers looted, all libraries burned down. Even the birth and death registers in the churches were burned.

From the perspective of the Sa'he Institute For Liberation (SIL), education is a crucial component to the reconstruction of East Timor. The SIL is an organization of East Timorese scholars dedicated to the construction of a library, research institute, publication and adult education center to serve the public of an independent East Timor.

We are open to all kinds of books in the humanities and social sciences in the languages of English, Portuguese, and Indonesian.

A brief note about SIL. SIL is the transformation of a study group called Sa'he Study Club (SSC) formed by East Timorese activists and Indonesian pro-democracy activists in 1998 in Jakarta. The name is in honor of Vicenti Sa'he, a young East Timorese revolutionary fighter who implemented the idea of popular cooperatives and a literacy program inspired by the Paulo Freire's method. Sa'he was killed by Indonesian military shortly after they invaded East Timor in 1975. SSC is aimed at revitalizing the concept of national liberation among the people of East Timor in the tradition of Sa'he and other martyrs who fought for independence in the 1970s.

So far, SSC has published books about Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel, the East Timorese political party Fretilin, and the East Timorese poet Francisco Borja da Costa. Prior to the ballot, SSC published a critical analysis of Indonesia's autonomy offer and distributed it as a pamphlet throughout East Timor. The pro-Indonesia newspaper, Suara Timor Timur, devoted 22 straight days of its editorial page to a refutation of our pamphlet. SSC has held weekly seminars since forming, first in Jakarta and then in Dili, until being forced to leave in early September. After the referendum, SSC was reformed and became an institute known as Sahe Institute for Liberation (SIL). Since then, we have published a pamphlet critiquing the World Bank and have coordinated youth projects in community education and organizing.

Please feel free to distribute this letter to other well-wishers of education in an independent East Timor.

We are looking forward to your reply.

Aderito de Jesus Soares, 
Coordinator of SIL 
Sahe Institute for Liberation


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