|East Timor Action Network Calls for Postponing Indonesia Aid
CGI Donors Should Wait Until After East Timor's Ballot
For Immediate Release
July 26, 1999
The East Timor Action Network/U.S.(ETAN) today urged the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) donors meeting to wait to commit any funds to the current Indonesian government until after the UN-sponsored vote on East Timor's political status scheduled for August 21 or 22.
"We are asking that all CGI aid be suspended, at least until after the peaceful conclusion of the Timor ballot organized by the United Nations," said Lynn Fredriksson, ETAN's Washington Representative.
"Pledging further financial assistance to Indonesia at this time would send an entirely wrong message to Jakarta, which has failed to stop military-supported paramilitary terror in East Timor, despite its commitments under the May 5 UN agreements," added Fredriksson.
"Indonesia should not receive any outside money, so long as its military continues to squander millions of dollars in attempts to undermine the UN ballot and a democratic decision by the East Timorese people," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
"Regardless of the outcome of the CGI meeting, the international community must continue to closely supervise Indonesia's conduct in East Timor -- before, during and after -- the UN ballot. Indonesia has a history of 'good behavior' before previous CGI meetings," said Miller.
Last month, ETAN urged the World Bank to continue to withhold Social Safety Net Funds (SSNF) for Indonesia due to evidence that these funds are being misused in East Timor. Leaked local government documents from East Timor show that SSNF were approved to pay civil defense units (CDUs), some of which incorporate paramilitary militias whose violent activities threaten to derail the August vote on the territory's political status. ETAN called for an audit of any bank funds used to date in East Timor. The World Bank has yet to respond to ETAN's request.
Paramilitary militias, armed and backed by the Indonesian military, continue to threaten and attack unarmed civilians and pro-independence leaders in an effort to control the outcome of the vote. There are over 60,000 internal refugees in East Timor. Many are dying of starvation and disease.
The CGI is led by the World Bank. Indonesia unilaterally dissolved its Dutch-chaired predecessor, the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI), in March 1992 after the Netherlands said it would review future aid to Indonesia following the November 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. At least 270 unarmed East Timorese were killed by the Indonesian military when a memorial procession turned into a peaceful political demonstration.
Indonesian NGO's have asked that the CGI meeting be delayed until a new Indonesian government is formed later this year. They fear that the transitional government will misspend international funds. The International Non-Governmental Organizations' Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) called the World Bank a "loan shark" and called for a moratorium on debt repayments and a changes in international lending practices.
The annual CGI is scheduled to meet July 27 and July 28 in Paris. Members of the CGI include the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and bilateral donors such as the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Denmark and Australia. More than $5 billion is expected to be pledged at this year's meeting.