|Subject: USETS: Letter on extending UN
United States East Timor society 1725 17th Street, N.W. #109 Washington, D.C. 20009
May 16, 2006
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr. U.S. Senate 201 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Biden:
We are writing to urge that you press the current Administration to support the establishment of a UN Special Office for East Timor. The U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has specifically proposed such an office as crucial for the continual rendering of effective international support to the people of East Timor and their democratically elected government. The UNOTIL mandate expires on May 20. A commitment to this proposal before that date is critical.
For more than 25 years the U.S. Congress has played a critical role in encouraging five U.S. Administrations to pursue actions and policies related to East Timor that emphasize respect for human rights and justice. It was this responsible and enlightened course by the U.S. Congress, strengthened by a bicameral and bipartisan consensus, that positioned the U.S. ultimately to play a positive role in the emergence of East Timor as the first new democratic state of the new millennium.
Recent violence and instability as well as upcoming (2007) national elections in East Timor underscore that state's still fragile nature and the need for continued international mentoring of this democratic transition. The current instability coincides with UNSC consideration of the future UN role in East Timor.
In the UN Security Council's May 5 debate, the U.S. did not support the Secretary General's call for establishment of a follow-on office to assist the transition to democracy in East Timor after the UNOTIL mandate expires on May 20.
There is manifest need for continued Security Council monitoring and engagement with this issue, including regular reporting to the Council by the Secretary General and the government of East Timor on developments there.
While the recent violence is regrettable, and for many discouraging, it is important at this point to recall the extraordinary courage displayed by the people of East Timor in 1999: despite years of repression and months of brutal attacks by the Indonesian military and their militias aimed at intimidating the people, a massive turnout of voters expressed themselves unequivocally and peacefully for independence. For that remarkable display, the people paid a terrible price including the murder of over 1,500, the forced evacuation of over 250,000 and the destruction of over 75 percent of the tiny nation's infrastructure.
We appeal to you as leaders of the U.S. Congress with responsibility for foreign affairs and international relations to use your influence, as have previous Congresses, to encourage the Administration not to abandon this remarkable effort in democracy and self-determination, and more importantly, not to abandon the people of East Timor.
Maria R. Spangenberg (Secretary of the United States-East Timor Society, on its behalf)
U.S.-East Timor Society:
Chair Elsie Walker; Treasurer Arnold Kohen; Secretary Maria Spangenberg; Directors Edmund McWilliams, John Chamberlin, Bruce Cameron, Lynn Frederiksson, Stephen Rickard, Geoffrey Robinson, Aderito Soares, Kirk Talbott, Miriam Young
cc: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice; U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton; Senator Richard G. Lugar; Congressman Henry Hyde; Congressman Tom Lantos