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Mark two years of broken promises for East Timor


End The Refugee Crisis!

Create an International Tribunal for East Timor

Maintain The Suspension On U.S.-Indonesia Military Ties!

see Background

also call Congress for justice for East Timor

Please make two calls this month - the 2nd anniversary of the UN agreement on East Timor’s vote on its political status. Help put an end to broken promises!


  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, phone 703-692-7100, fax 703-697-9080, or send comments by internet at
  • Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific James Kelly, phone 202-647-9596

Tell Secretary Rumsfeld and Assistant Secretary Kelly:

  • The U.S. must increase pressure on the Indonesia government and military to disarm and disband militia intimidating and assaulting East Timorese refugees. The U.S. must also press for significant international oversight and participation in any refugee registration process so that refugees can freely and safely choose whether to repatriate to East Timor.
  • The U.S. must actively support the formation of an international tribunal for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor. A tribunal can bring justice for East Timorese people and also pressure Indonesia to hold its military accountable for gross human rights violations, while deterring further military abuses.
  • All military ties between the U.S. and Indonesia must be suspended until the refugee crisis is resolved, and the Indonesian government asserts full control over its military, holding its members accountable for human rights violations committed in East Timor and elsewhere. Any weapons sales, training exercises or exchanges before these conditions are met would seriously compromise East Timor's security and hinder democratic reform in Indonesia.

Your efforts do make a difference. Thanks to people like you, we maintained the suspension on U.S. military training and weapons sales to the Indonesian military last year and ensured U.S. financial assistance for East Timor’s reconstruction in 2001.

Please let us know the results of your contacts. E-mail:  Thank you.


In May 1999, the Indonesian and Portuguese governments signed an agreement with the United Nations, which finally allowed a vote on East Timor’s political status.The agreement charged Indonesia with providing security for the August 1999 referendum in East Timor.Instead, when the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence and an end to end a 24 year-long brutal military occupation on August 30, 1999, the Indonesian security forces and their militias retaliated by nearly destroying East Timor, killing hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.Today, some 100,000 East Timorese remain in Indonesian military and militia-controlled refugee camps, where humanitarian organizations report up to five deaths per day from disease and malnutrition.

No Indonesian military and few militia leaders have been held responsible for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor, although a United Nations investigation has called for an international tribunal, and a confidential UN report recently published on the internet by ETAN states 1999's violence was "an operation planned and carried out by the TNI [Indonesian military]." Some members of the Bush administration want the U.S. to re-engage with the Indonesian military, despite continuing gross human rights violations by the armed forces throughout Indonesia.

Over 18 months after the vote for independence, up to 100,000 East Timorese people continue to languish in militia-controlled refugee camps in Indonesian West Timor. Humanitarian organizations report as many as five deaths per day in the camps, with conditions worsening. "The refugees in the camps are suffering great hunger. They have had no support from local aid groups since January and from international agencies since September," Jesuit Refugee Services, the only international organization regularly in the West Timor camps, recently reported. Other international agencies evacuated West Timor last September after militia members murdered three UN workers.

Conditions in the West Timor refugee camps are similar to those in East Timor during the Indonesian military occupation. Within the camps, reports of rape, sexual enslavement, and other forms of violence against women are widespread. Up to 1000 East Timorese children were forcibly separated from their parents by militias and sent to orphanages and other institutions throughout Indonesia, in a desperate bid to raise a new generation of pro-Indonesia activists. Though many parents have asked for their children to be returned, their captors refuse to release them.

The continued presence of armed, hostile militia backed by the Indonesian military in West Timor pose a serious threat to East Timor's security, peace, and integrity. Militias have recently stepped-up their aggressive tactics, firing machine guns and throwing grenades at UN peacekeepers and East Timorese along the border. One young East Timorese woman was killed in a recent attack. The people of West Timor also suffer from increased militarization and violence, loss of land and other vital resources.

The Indonesian government wants to hold a rapid registration of East Timorese refugees and wash its hands of the matter. However, this plan precludes the significant international involvement needed to make sure refugees can freely choose between repatriation to East Timor and resettlement in Indonesia. Under current conditions of militia intimidation and misinformation about conditions in East Timor, a credible registration process is impossible.

No Indonesian military or police personnel have been held accountable for extensive human rights violations committed in East Timor. On the contrary, many Indonesian officers responsible for crimes in East Timor have been promoted. East Timor's own justice system remains flawed, under-resourced, and unable to try or even question any Indonesian military or police officers responsible for heinous crimes. The few militia leaders brought to trial in Indonesia have only been charged for minor crimes committed in West Timor. The Indonesian court system has repeatedly and consistently failed to punish human right violators. Cases heard in Indonesian courts would likely fail to provide justice: Many East Timorese witnesses will be afraid to travel to Indonesia to testify and Indonesia’s powerful military is refusing to cooperate with most investigations making any convictions highly unlikely.

Indonesian President Wahid recently decreed a decree creating a human rights court for East Timor. However, the court’s jurisdiction is limited to crimes committed following the August 1999 referendum, preventing prosecution of pre-ballot crimes, such as two of the worst massacres of 1999: the April attacks on refugees at the Liquica church and on refugees and family members at Manuel Carrascalao’s house in Dili. East Timorese leader and 1996 Nobel laureate Bishop Belo recently commented, "We have no faith in the investigations being conducted in Jakarta. Those who authorized the crimes in East Timor will not face justice there." Only an international tribunal can provide justice for the East Timorese people.

In the fall of 1999, the U.S. Congress cut off most military training and weapons transfers to Indonesia until certain conditions are met. These include allowing refugees to leave the West Timor camps and bringing to justice military and militia members responsible for human rights atrocities. Current U.S. law also stipulates that Indonesia must prevent militia incursions into East Timor and cooperate fully with the UN administration in East Timor. The legislation containing this language -- the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act -- must be renewed every year. Work has already begun on this year's bill. The current conditions are far from being met, and others relating to civilian control of the Indonesian military should be added. However, some in the State Department and the Pentagon are pressing for U.S. re-engagement with the Indonesian military. Strong action is needed NOW to prevent the renewal of U.S.-Indonesia military ties.

Violence against civilians by Indonesian security forces is escalating throughout the Indonesian archipelago, especially in Aceh and West Papua. Until the West Timor refugee crisis is resolved, the Indonesian government asserts full control over its military and holds it accountable for human rights violations committed in East Timor and Indonesia, the current suspension of all military ties between the U.S. and Indonesia must be maintained.

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

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