|U.S. Senate Votes 98-0 to Step Up U.S. Pressure on Indonesia for Peaceful East
Roll Call Vote Directs Clinton Administration to Condition Votes on International Aid on Indonesia's Actions to End Militia Violence
For Immediate Release
The U.S. Senate on June 30, 1999, voted 98-0 to require a tougher U.S. policy in support of a free and fair United Nations -organized vote in Indonesian-occupied East Timor. The Senate action came as pro-Indonesian militias attacked two U.N. offices in the territory, injuring several.
The Senate in amending the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill specifically called for the Secretary of the Treasury to direct the United States executive directors to international financial institutions to consider Indonesian government and military efforts to insure a peaceful ballot "in determining their vote on any loan or financial assistance to Indonesia."
The amendment says that the Clinton administration should "immediately intensify their efforts to prevail upon the Indonesian Government and military" to "disarm and disband anti-independence militias," "release all political prisoners," and "allow Timorese who have been living in exile to return to East Timor to campaign" in the organized ballot. The vote on East Timor's political status is scheduled for the weekend of August 21.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a sponsor of the amendment, said on the Senate floor that "We should use all the resources at our disposal to convince the Indonesians to stop the violence. This is not only their responsibility, it is in their interests. If the Indonesian military succeeds in sabotaging the vote, Indonesia will face international condemnation."
The amendment "directs the United State executive directors to international financial institutions to use their influence to encourage the Indonesian Government and military to create a stable and secure environment for the vote," Senator Leahy added.
The Senate also urges the President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense to step up their pressure on Indonesia.
The measure, amends Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to require an administration report to Congress within 15 days of passage on its own efforts and Indonesia's actions. It also urges Indonesia "to grant full access to East Timor by international human rights monitors, humanitarian organizations, and the press."
Earlier in June the Senate passed an amendment to the State Department Authorization also urging an intensified U.S. effort to pressure Indonesia. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up both bills after the July 4th recess.
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.
The Indonesian "authorities certainly must accept the blame for allowing, and in some cases encouraging, the bloody tactics of the pro-integration militias. The continuation of this violence is a threat to the very sanctity and legitimacy of the process that is underway. Thus, the Leahy-Feingold amendment specifically calls on Jakarta to do all it can to seek a peaceful process and a fair resolution to the situation in East Timor," said Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI).
In addition to Senator Leahy and Feingold, the amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
On December 7, 1975, the Indonesian military brutally invaded East Timor. The following July, East Timor was illegally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th province." The UN and most of the world's countries do not recognize this, and the East Timorese reject it. 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 occupation forces. On May 5, Indonesia signed an agreement to have the U.N. organized a vote by the East Timorese on their political status.
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The text of the amendment follows:
SELF-DETERMINATION IN EAST TIMOR
Sec. . (a) The President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Treasury (acting through United States executive directors to international financial institutions) should immediately intensify their efforts to prevail upon the Indonesian Government and military to--
(1) disarm and disband anti-independence militias in East timor;
(2) grant full access to East Timor by international human rights monitors, humanitarian organizations, and the press;
(3) allow Timorese who have been living in exile to return to East Timor to campaign for and participate in the ballot; and
(4) release all political prisoners.
(b) The President shall submit a report to Congress not later than 15 days after passage of this Act, containing a description of the Administration's efforts and his assessment of efforts made by the Indonesian Government and military to fulfill the steps described in paragraph (a).
(c) The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States executive directors to international financial institutions to take into account the extent of efforts made by the Indonesian Government and military to fulfill the steps described in paragraph (a), in determining their vote on any loan or financial assistance to Indonesia.