etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

East Timor ACTION Network ALERT


Without an international tribunal, decades of crimes against humanity will go unpunished - and the brutal, unreformed Indonesian military will continue to enjoy impunity.

A UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION CALLED FOR AN INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR EAST TIMOR IN JANUARY 2000. The commission called such a move "fundamental for the future social and political stability of East Timor" and stated "ultimately the Indonesian Army was responsible for the intimidation, terror, killings and other acts of violence" there. Two years later, East Timor has yet to see justice.

The Indonesian government promised to set up its own ad hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor. But the faults of this court are numerous: the court's mandate is limited to just two months and three of 13 districts in East Timor; the judges named to the court include people with no court experience and with close ties to the Indonesian military; the politically powerful military will try to block attempts to hold its top brass accountable; traumatized East Timorese will be reluctant to testify in Indonesian courts; and the court will not hear cases of the widespread, systematic use of violence against women, including mass rape and forced sterilization.

The U.S. - which provided Indonesia with substantial military and political support during its occupation of East Timor - must take a leadership role in calling for an international tribunal. And the time for a tribunal is NOW.

What you can do: 

Make three phone calls to your members of Congress TODAY! 

  • Ask women's studies scholars and women's organizations to sign onto a statement supporting justice for the women of East Timor!
  • When you talk to your Representative's and Senators' offices: 
    • urge them to co-sponsor congressional resolutions calling for an international tribunal for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor, House Concurrent Resolution 60 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 9, "Condemning the Violence in East Timor and Urging the Establishment of an International War Crimes Tribunal for Prosecuting Crimes Against Humanity". For a list of current co-sponsors, see
    • thank members of Congress who have already co-sponsored the resolution and ask them to personally let the State Department and National Security Council know of their support for an international tribunal for East Timor. 

Contact the Washington office of your Representative and Senators and ask to speak with the foreign policy staff person. All offices can be reached through the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121. To find out who represents you, visit See sample letter below.

Please let ETAN Washington Representative Karen Orenstein know the results of your Congressional calls, at 202-544-6911 or

When you talk to scholars, leaders and organizations focused on women's issues: 

  • inform them how women were specifically targeted during the Indonesian military occupation of East Timor through sexual assault, forced sterilization and forced "marriage" to Indonesian military personnel. East Timorese women in Indonesian refugee camps continue to suffer rape at the hands of the military and its militias. Many women refugees are forced into prostitution to support their families and live under horrible conditions, with high rates of domestic violence in the camps. 
  • ask them to sign on to a statement calling for an international tribunal to ensure these crimes against the women of East Timor are meaningfully prosecuted. The statement can be found at

Thank you for your support! Your efforts do make a difference.


Background The Indonesian military and its militia proxies razed East Timor following the August 1999 referendum for independence, murdering thousands, raping hundreds of women and girls, forcing hundreds of thousands into Indonesian West Timor and destroying 75% of the country's infrastructure. In January 2000 the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor and the Indonesian government's own human rights commission both found the Indonesian military responsible for these crimes against humanity. The UN commission called for the establishment of an international tribunal. The Indonesian government balked at the possibility of international trials and promised to establish its own ad hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor. Shortly after taking power, current Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri severely limited the mandate of the court to only two months in 1999 and just three of 13 districts in East Timor. These limitations, along with other serious problems - few trials for high-ranking military and government figures, the continued political power of the Indonesian military, widespread corruption in the Indonesian judicial system, no cases regarding the widespread, systematic use of violence against women - make the Indonesian court unacceptable. This leaves an international tribunal as the only way to achieve real justice for East Timor, since Indonesian generals and political leaders and East Timorese militia leaders are in Indonesia, inaccessible to East Timorese courts, and Indonesia has stated it will not extradite them for prosecution.

Today, no Indonesian military or police have been held responsible by the Indonesian government for the atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999, and some 80,000 East Timorese remain trapped in militia-and military-controlled Indonesian refugee camps. The near-total impunity enjoyed by the military and militia leaders in Indonesia is a major factor perpetuating the refugee crisis. Reports from Jesuit Refugee Services note the "generally very poor" condition of the refugees' health and "continued intimidation in the camps". An international tribunal for East Timor must be established NOW, to provide justice for the women and men of East Timor, to support nation-building in East Timor and rule of law in Indonesia where systematic abuses continue, and to facilitate the return of the one-tenth of the East Timorese population still under Indonesian occupation in squalid refugee camps.

East Timor was invaded by Indonesia in December 1975 with U.S. weapons and political support. More than 200,000 East Timorese were killed. On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-organized referendum. After a period of UN administration, East Timor will become the first new nation of the 21st century on May 20.

Sample letter to Congress

Sample E-mail/ Fax to Congressional offices Congressional e-mail addresses and fax numbers are available at: Date

Dear Senator /Representative _________,

I am very concerned that decades of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the East Timorese people will go unpunished if Congress does not act now. East Timor's women and men suffered under a brutal Indonesian military occupation that ended with the military and its militia proxies carrying out a devastating scorched-earth campaign in retaliation for East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence in 1999.

East Timor will become fully independent on May 20. However, no Indonesian military or police have been brought to trial for a quarter century of horrific human rights abuses. The recently-established Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor is fatally flawed, and today approximately one-tenth of the East Timorese population remains held in militia- and military-controlled Indonesian refugee camps.

I am writing to urge you to uphold international human rights standards and support justice for East Timor by:

* Co-sponsoring (House Concurrent Resolution 60 or Senate Concurrent Resolution 9), which urges the administration to work actively to establish an international tribunal for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor, as called for by United Nations commissions, East Timorese Nobel Laureate Bishop Carlos Belo, and many others in East Timor and internationally. 

* For any members of Congress who have already co-sponsored the resolution: Communicating to the State Department and National Security Council (the Rep's/Sen's) support for an international tribunal for East Timor, as shown by (her/his) co-sponsorship of (H.Con.Res.60 or Sen.Con.Res.9).

I thank you for your attention to these important issues, [thank Sen/Rep ______ if they have already co-sponsored H.Con.Res.60 or S.Con.Res.9] and would appreciate your informing me of the actions (Rep/Sen) _________ takes on these matters.


Your name, address, city, state, zip

Search this site                 powered by FreeFind

If your browser does do not support forms use: Search   Site Map   What's New

Note: For those without a fax application on their computer - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and  it's free of charge!  Download from



make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |