|For Immediate Release
Observers Head to Timor for Historic UN Vote
Contact: John M. Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Kristin Sundell, 773-255-7949
East Timor Action Network/U.S. Members to Observe Historic U.N. Vote in East Timor;
Support International Effort to Ensure a Free and Fair Vote on Political Status of
August 10 - Members of the East Timor Action Network/U.S. are heading to the troubled
territory of East Timor to observe the United Nations-organized vote on August 30. They
will join other volunteers from around the world as part of the International Federation
for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP) and other observer missions for the historic
vote which is scheduled to take place August 30.
The vote will determine whether East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, stays an
autonomous region within Indonesia or becomes an independent nation. The observers hope
their presence will help ensure a fair election.
"Observers will be taking no position on the outcome of the vote. It is for the
East Timorese to make to decide their own future. We are going to help insure the
integrity of the process by monitoring the human rights situation and observing the entire
voting process," said John Miller of Brooklyn, New York, spokesperson for ETAN.
Miller is going to East Timor to assist an international delegation from Parliamentarian
for East Timor.
"I feel a special responsibility as an American to support East Timor's right to
choose. Most of the weapons used by Indonesia to invade East Timor came from the United
States," said Kristin Sundell of Chicago.
On May 5, Indonesia and Portugal signed an agreement for the United Nations to conduct
a "popular consultation" on former Portuguese colony's political status. After
some delays, the U.N. has registered nearly 450,000 East Timorese both inside and outside
the territory, which Indonesia invaded on December 7, 1975, in a move not recognized by
the United Nations.
Ever since the U.N., Portugal and Indonesia agreed to hold the plebiscite, paramilitary
militias -- armed and backed by the Indonesian military -- have threatened, attacked and
killed unarmed civilians and pro-independence leaders in an effort to control the outcome
of the vote. While the situation has improved as the UN presence expanded, IFET has
already documented instances of intimidation.
The International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP) is composed of
over 150 trained volunteers from throughout the world. The East Timor Action Network is
organizing the U.S. component, which consists of 54 people from 16 states. IFET-OP opened
an office in Dili, the capital of East Timor on June 22. The IFET-OP is monitoring the
human rights situation as it relates to the UN-run consultation process, voter
registration, political campaigning, and the actual vote.
The IFET-OP and Parliamentarians for East Timor are accredited by the UN mission in
East Timor as a nonpartisan observers. Their reports will help determine the credibility
of the election.
Additional information about the IFET Observer Project and East Timor at
According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more than 200,000 people --
one-third of the pre-invasion population have been killed by the Indonesian