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Fall 2000: East Timor 


What You Can Do

THE COMING MONTHS are an excellent time to raise issues concerning East Timor and Indonesia with members of Congress (returning and newly-elected) and other officials. Important issues to raise include: 

Refugee Crisis 

  • Military-supported militias must be verifiably disarmed and disbanded. 
  • Militia leaders should be arrested and extradited to East Timor to stand trial. 
  • Indonesia must guarantee international and local humanitarian workers safe and unimpeded access to refugees. 
  • An internationally-supervised registration of refugees must be conducted in an environment free of fear and intimidation to enable refugees to choose to return to East Timor or settle in Indonesia. 
  • The U.S. must maintain heightened pressure on Indonesia to comply with their promised disarmament campaign. 

Suspension of U.S. and International Financial Institution Assistance 

  • Disbursement of U.S. and international financial assistance should be conditioned on Indonesia keeping its promises which can by shown by Indonesia taking concrete steps to resolve the refugee crisis, including the conditions above. 

Suspension of U.S.-Indonesia Military Ties

  • Until the refugee crisis is resolved (through the conditions above being met), the Indonesian civilian government clearly controls the Indonesian military, and those responsible for human rights atrocities committed in East Timor are held accountable for their actions, the current suspension of all military ties must be maintained. International Tribunal 
  • The U.S. should unequivocally support an international tribunal for East Timor in which military and militia leaders responsible are prosecuted for their systematic human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. See below for more information.

What You Can Do 

Call the U.S. Administration 

Call the State Department and the Department of Defense with the above messages. Who to call: 

  • Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 202-647-5291, fax: 202-647-6434,
  • Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Stanley Roth, 202-647-9596, fax: 202-647-7350 
  • Secretary of Defense William Cohen, 703-692-7100, fax: 703-697-9080, Web form to use to send comments:

Meet with Members of Congress 

With Congress in recess, this is an excellent time to meet with representatives and senators in-person at home offices. Arrange a meeting with your newly-elected representative or senator, if your members of Congress are not returning. Raise the above issues at these meetings. (Check with your local League of Women Voters for contact information. See ETAN's website for legislation considered by the 106th Congress.)

Call the World Bank and the U.S. Treasury Department

Request that financial assistance to Indonesia be contingent on fulfillment of the above-mentioned conditions. Call: 

Write, Write, Talk, Talk 
Write letters-to-the-editor and op-eds to educate your community via local media outlets. Arrange interviews with East Timor activists on your local radio and television station. Contact ETAN outreach coordinator John M. Miller (, 718-596-7668) for assistance. Consult the ETAN website for sample letters-to-the-editor.

Organize Local Events 
Organize local events to educate the public about East Timor in your hometown. Arrange video screenings of documentaries on East Timor, Indonesia, and U.S. foreign policy. Hold local fund-raisers to raise money for East Timorese organizations and/or the East Timor Action Network. Network with labor activists about supporting East Timorese efforts to advocate for worker rights. Start a book drive to help rebuild East Timor's destroyed libraries. Contact ETAN staff Kristin Sundell (, 212-866-5370) or Karen Orenstein (, 202-544-6911) for more information about such worthy projects in East Timor.

Thank you! Your efforts make a big difference


Indonesia's most recent promise to disarm militias in West Timor has once again proven hollow. Indonesian security forces have yet to crack down on militias controlling camps in West Timor, and have now abandoned any deadlines for enforcing the hand-over of weapons by militias. Indonesian security forces in West Timor have confiscated homemade weapons, but few modern ones. Since the killings of three UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) workers in September, including an American citizen, international humanitarian organizations have evacuated from West Timor. Few humanitarian workers have returned. With virtually no international monitoring presence in the camps, militias are believed to have tightened their control over the more than 100,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor, taking roll call every night in some camps. Supplies of food and medicine are running dangerously low; and an even greater humanitarian disaster looms.

Immediately following the September 6 militia rampage in Atambua, West Timor, that left 3 UNHCR workers and at least 11 East and West Timorese civilians dead, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1319 (UNSCR 1319) calling for "immediate and effective action" to resolve the crisis in West Timor.

No Indonesian military personnel and appallingly few East Timorese militia leaders have been held accountable for human rights violations committed in East and West Timor. Though notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres has finally been detained in Jakarta, Indonesian authorities have refused to extradite him to East Timor as requested by the UN in East Timor. Meanwhile, several Indonesian leaders are hailing Guterres as a national hero. In August, Indonesia's consultative assembly further compromised an already questionable ability to achieve genuine accountability for past human rights abuses by passing a constitutional amendment prohibiting retroactivity in prosecutions. Parliamentarians also voted to extend the military's right to 38 parliamentary seats until at least 2009. All of this underscores the need to create an international human rights tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor, as called for by the East Timorese leadership.

I n mid-October, Indonesia's aid donors, including the World Bank, IMF, and U.S., in the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) together pledged $5.3 billion in assistance to Indonesia. Prior to the CGI meeting, the U.S. and World Bank threatened that aid could be jeopardized if Indonesia failed to curtail the militias. The U.S. administration has since said that "our pledge is based on the assumption that Indonesia will fulfill its responsibilities to the international community, including continued and full compliance with UNSCR 1319, and that our willingness to proceed with obligations under our pledge will take into account Indonesia's progress toward these goals." The U.S. must keep its word and be prepared to withhold financial assistance if militias retain control of West Timor.

November 2000

East Timor Action Network 
PO Box 1182 White Plains, NY 10602 
(914) 428-7299;

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