Subject: US sailors to visit East Timor next week 

Indonesian Observer April 7, 2001

US sailors to visit East Timor next week

JAKARTA - 5000 US sailors and mariners from the USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group will next week visit Dili, East Timor, to assist the fledgling nation with humanitarian activities.

Members of the group will stay in the capital city, Dili from April 9 to 11 to distribute humanitarian aid, and take part in the construction of several medical facilities.

A press release from the US Embassy in Jakarta reports that the activity would be the final monthly-visit by US Navy to East Timor. Their monthly visits began in 1999.

The group consists of the USS Boxer, the USS Cleveland, and the USS Harper’s Ferry, as well as the 11th battalion of the Marine’s quick response forces.

Those vessels are based in San Diego, California and the Marines are based an hour north at Camp Pendleton also in California.

East Timor gained its freedom from Indonesia after the UN-administered popular consultation in which a majority (78.5%) of East Timorese voted to end their brutal relationship with Indonesia in August 1999. Following the announcement of the outcome, the Indonesian army utilizing their milita trainees, launched a country-wide ‘scorched earth’ policy in East Timor.

Thousands of people were killed and 75% of the population was left homeless. Even schools and hospitals and administrative buildings were destroyed in the three-week long frenzy.

East Timor is still in the process of rebuilding its society and infrastructure, which also suffered catastrophically in the 25 year illegal occupation by the Indonesian armed services.

No legal action, has yet been taken against the political or military leaders responsible for the violence as yet.

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