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East Timor Action Network Praises Award of Nobel Peace Prize to East Timorese

October 11, 1996 - The East Timor Action Network/US (ETAN) today praised the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor. ETAN urges the United States to actively support the Bishop's and Ramos Horta's call for a U.N.-supervised referendum in the territory.

In a statement, the East Timor Action Network said:

"The East Timor Action Network applauds the Nobel Committee's decision to recognize the struggle of the East Timorese by awarding the Peace Prize to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos Horta, Special Representative of the National Council of Maubere Resistance. Defying harassment and threats from the Indonesian military, Bishop Belo has been an outspoken proponent of the rights of the East Timorese. Even before Indonesia's invasion of his homeland, Ramos Horta has eloquently represented the East Timorese aspirations for self-determination and human rights. ETAN was honored to host a speaking tour by Ramos Horta this past May.

"This prize brings much needed attention to Indonesia's illegal occupation of East Timor and is an acknowledgment of the determination and sacrifice of the East Timorese people in the face of Indonesia's genocide.

"The Peace Prize inspires all of us outside East Timor to redouble our efforts in support of self-determination for the East Timorese.

"The people of East Timor will no doubt be celebrating in coming days. We hope that Indonesia will not use the prize as an excuse to further repress them, but rather to take the opportunity to follow Security Council resolutions by allowing a U.N.-supervised referendum on self-determination.

"As Americans, we call on the U.S. government to press Indonesia to support the human and political rights of the East Timorese people. We especially urge the U.S. government to support the East Timorese's call for a U.N.-supervised referendum to determine the political status of East Timor.

"Ending all arms sales -- including the proposed sale of F-16 jet fighters -- to the repressive Indonesian military would send the strongest possible message that its illegal occupation of East Timor must end."

More than 200,000 people, one-third of the population, have been killed since Indonesia invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975. Although often incorrectly portrayed as a religious conflict, the East Timorese are struggling for the right to determine their own political future. The U.N. refuses to recognize Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, a former Portuguese colony." 

ETAN is currently sponsoring a speaking tour by Carmel Budiardjo, founder of TAPOL - the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign. Budiardjo was jailed without trial for three years by the government of General Suharto. In 1995, she won the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, "for holding the Indonesian government accountable for its actions and upholding the universality of fundamental human rights."

ETAN/US was founded in November 1991, following the massacre of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor in accordance with the UN Charter and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. ETAN/US currently has a dozen local chapters.

* * * Note to editors/producers: ETAN/US can help arrange interviews with people who have met with Bishop Belo and Jose Ramos Horta or are knowledgeable about East Timor.

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