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CONTACT: Deborah DeYoung, 202/225-1217

August 11, 1999

100 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CALL ON PRESIDENT TO USE ALL CHANNELS TO PRESS INDONESIA ON EAST TIMOR

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, joined 99 other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in urging President Clinton to do "everything in its power to convince Jakarta to call off the paramilitaries" that are threatening to derail elections in East Timor.

The elections have been postponed twice because of violence , and now are set for August 30. "This is a historic opportunity," the Members wrote. "However, if Indonesian forces and those under their effective control continue in their currentmanner, the process will lead instead to an unfair election or no election at all - which could lead in turn to yet another bloodbath in East Timor."

In the 23 years since Indonesia illegally annexed East Timor, 200,000 people have died - including tens of thousands who starved there in 1978-79. The Members wrote, "... the killings continue even now. Tens of thousands have been displaced by these attacks, leading to widespread deprivation in East Timor's countryside. Authoritative church sources say that such actions, orchestrated by the Indonesian military, could make it impossible for a fair vote to be held as scheduled in August."

In 1994 and 1996, Hall, a long-time advocate for human rights who has made fighting hunger and other severe poverty a policy, nominated Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo for the Nobel Peace Prize. Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta were awarded the prize in 1996 for their work to ease suffering in East Timor.

The text of the letter is available at www.house.gov/tonyhall/


August 6, 1999

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We would like to express our grave concern over developments in East Timor. Atrocities in recent months by anti-independence paramilitaries - which operate with the support, direction, and sometimes even participation of elements of the Indonesian military - have led to hundreds of killings. Although the most dramatic incident was a bloody assault on a church in April, the killings continue even now. Tens of thousands have been displaced by these attacks, leading to widespread deprivation in East Timor's countryside. Authoritative church sources say that such actions, orchestrated by the Indonesian military, could make it impossible for a fair vote to be held as scheduled in August. Repeated physical attacks and intimidation against United Nations monitors and relief personnel in East Timor are an added cause for grave concern.

We therefore believe it is imperative that the United States and its allies use all the influence we can possibly bring to bear on Jakarta to help ensure a democratic process in East Timor in complete cooperation with the United Nations, coupled with an end to obstruction of relief efforts. The United States and its allies should work to persuade Indonesian forces to put an end to atrocities in East Timor and allow a free and fair vote to take place. There must also be an expansion of access for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other relief teams in East Timor's countryside and towns, and a relief operation and protection efforts should be conducted immediately. It must be stressed that in 1978-79, many tens of thousands of people perished because of a catastrophic war-related famine, which underscores the need to address the current crisis without further delay.

These humanitarian problems and the 23-year conflict itself could soon be resolved through the employment of timely international diplomatic action and unrelenting pressure on Jakarta to fulfill its commitments within the May 5, 1999 United Nations agreement on the vote in East Timor. This is a historic opportunity. However, if Indonesian forces and those under their effective control continue in their current manner, the process will lead instead to an unfair election or no election at all - which could lead in turn to yet another bloodbath in East Timor. This would have disastrous consequences not only for the East Timorese, but also for Indonesia's relations with the United States and other nations.

There is still time to reverse course - but only if Washington does everything in its power to convince Jakarta to call off the paramilitaries. Not only our Embassy and State Department, but also U.S. Defense Department officials who have enjoyed a close relationship over the years with the senior command of the Indonesian military, must make this appeal in the strongest possible terms.

We would like to request a meeting with you to personally discuss these urgent matters in greater detail. Thank you in advance for your consideration of these requests.

Sincerely yours,

Tony P. Hall
Frank R. Wolf
James P. McGovern
Christopher H. Smith
James L. Oberstar
Joseph R. Pitts
John Joseph Moakley
Constance A. Morella
Tom Lantos
John Edward Porter
Rod R. Blagojevich
John Lewis
Bill Luther
Michael F. Doyle
Anna G. Eshoo Fortney
Pete Stark
Janice D. Schakowsky
Phil English
Lloyd Doggett
John E. Sweeney
Robert A. Weygand
Lynn C. Woolsey
John F. Tierney
Carolyn C. Kilpatrick
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Peter T. King
Robert Wexler
Robert Menendez
Robert A. Brady
Barney Frank
Maurice D. Hinchey
Richard W. Pombo
Martin Olav Sabo
José E. Serrano
Martin T. Meehan
David E. Price
James A. Traficant, Jr.
Henry A. Waxman
John D. Dingell
Bernard Sanders
Stephen Horn
Julian C. Dixon
Carolyn B. Maloney
Robert A. Underwood
Donald M. Payne
George Miller
Dan Burton
Howard L. Berman
David E. Bonior
Michael R. McNulty
Nita M. Lowey
Bruce F. Vento
Steve C. LaTourette
J.D. Hayworth
Louis McIntosh Slaughter
James T. Walsh
Lucille Roybal-Allard
William J. Coyne
James P. Moran
Dale E. Kildee
Peter A. DeFazio
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega
Bobby L. Rush
Eliot L. Engel
John Conyers, Jr.
Peter J. Visclosky
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Jim McDermott
Bob Etheridge
Merrill Cook
Sam Farr
Tammy Baldwin
James H. Maloney
Brian P. Bilbray
Neil Abercrombie
Dennis J. Kucinich
Bennie G. Thompson
David Minge
Thomas H. Allen
John W. Olver
Ron Kind
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Brad Sherman
William D. Delahunt
Thomas G. Tancredo
Sue W. Kelly
Michael E. Capuano
Earl Blumenauer
Zoe Lofgren
Lane Evans
Gary L. Ackerman
Marcy Kaptur
Sam Gejdenson
Patrick J. Kennedy
Luis V. Gutierrez
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.
Anthony D. Weiner
Robert E. Andrews
Cynthia A. McKinney
Barbara Lee
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