|Timor Starving to Death
John M. Miller
September 11, 1999
Two satellite telephone calls have been received, one each in Darwin and New York in the past 24 hours. Both came from the heart of the hills of East Timor telling of tens of thousands of people starving - men, women and, worst of all, children. Children are crying all night, without food, and many hundreds of babies have diarrhoea, which in these circumstances is death dealing. Whole families of little children aged 0-5 are in the jungle, and because it is the dry season, there is no rain and no bush fruits. One man from the Dare area reported over 30,000 people camping without shelter, without food. "Send help, send food, we are starving" was the father's plea. All that is left is bananas and a root called camote. Said an American lady accompanying the people in the hills: "The Red Cross must make an emergency food drop in the area of Dare women and children are starving".
In a separate story, a sympathetic Indonesian priest rang Darwin yesterday, September 10, to tell of East Timorese in camps around Atambua and Kupang not being given any food by the Indonesian authorites. It is up to the forced refugees to find their own food said the priest, who spoke to two ladies who had managed to get into Atambua to beg for food. "We have no money, so all we can do is beg. If we don't, what then? We die, together with our children" . One lady had two children under five, the other had three children and an aged father to look after. They had been in the camp for three days and said that more refugees were being herded in every evening, often after dark.
It is now estimated that there are 120,000 people hiding in the hills of East Timor. They are being hunted by the Indonesian Army and militias, who it is reported are protected from possible Falintil resistance by unarmed East Timorese who have been forced to become human shields. They had the choice of becoming a human shield, or being shot. A second estimate is that there are 180,000 people in camps in West Timor. The UNHCR staff who tried to visit one camp outside Kupang on September 9 was shot at, and had to turn back.
The Timorese are being starved to death. There are 300,000 people starving in East Timor and West Timor. This is 45% of the total population. Clearly this is a deliberate policy of the Indonesian Army. This is the "final solution" to the East Timorese problem.
Emergency airdrops of food, medicines and clothing are needed as a matter of urgency. Indonesia must be forced to allow in humanitarian aid. Unlike militiary intervention, no "permission" is needed from Indonesia for humanitarian aid.
2. There are 120,000 starving people in the hills of East Timor, without food, water, medicines or belongings of any kind.
3. There are also 180,000 people in camps in West Timor, where they receive no food rations from the Indonesian authorities.
4. These two groups amount to 300,000 starving people, which is 45% of the East Timor population.
5. Immediate humanitarian relief aid needs to be delivered to the hills and camps of Timor, by air and road and ship.
6. Unlike military intervention, no "permission" is needed from Indonesia for humanitarian aid.
Timor Aid is a a non-political aid organisation incorporated in Australia and associated in Timor with Yayaysan Timor Aid, providing development and relief aid to the people of Timor, and for the reconstruction of East Timorese society.
Sydney Morning Herald (September 8, 1999) Aid agencies warn of mass starvation
List of groups collecting donations for relief of Timorese
Timor Election Observer John M. Miller to Return to New York, Sunday, Sept. 12
Residence of Nobel Prize Winner Attacked, Thousands Taken Away by Militias
John M. Miller of the East Timor Action Network will return to New York on September 12 at JFK Airport. Miller was evacuated from Dili, East Timor on Sept. 6 after spending two and half weeks monitoring the UN-organized plebiscite on independence.
Miller will be arriving on United Airlines Flight 862 from Sydney, via San Francisco, arriving JFK Terminal 6 at 5:43 pm.
He spent the rest of the week in Darwin, Australia.
Indonesian-backed paramilitaries and Indonesian military and police units continue to conduct widespread operations throughout East Timor. On August 30, the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence. Hundreds, possibly thousands have been killed already. Hundreds of thousands more have fled to the mountains where they face death by starvation, dehydration and disease. Thousands are being forcibly deported at gunpoint by the Indonesian military to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia.
"The Indonesian military is the source of the violence, not the solution," said Miller. "More troops and martial law will only make things worse."
John M. Miller travelled to East Timor with Parliamentarians for East Timor to support their delegation of observers.
"The political aspirations of the vast majority of East Timorese, who voted overwhelmingly for independence, are being crushed at the very moment. Their very survival as a people is at stake," said Miller. "I am calling on the international community to press for Indonesia's immediate withdrawal from East Timor and the introduction of U.N. forces."
Miller said the U.S. must use all its influence with Jakarta to save the people of East Timor. "It should start by immediately halting all U.S. military and financial assistance to Indonesia.The Clinton Administration must press for an immediate cutoff of IMF and World Bank Aid and announce an end to military and financial aid to Indonesia. We know who is doing this in East Timor, the lives of countless thousands of Timorese rests in the hands of Washington."