U.S. and Japanese Parliamentarians Appeal to Secretary-General
From Jean Inglis, September 24, 1992
In an unprecedented trans-Pacific cooperative action, 293 members of the Japanese Diet and U.S. Congress have appealed to UN Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali to step up efforts to end the “16 year-long history of repression in East Timor” and achieve a “fundamental solution” to the East Timor issue.
A Joint Letter signed by lawmakers from a broad political spectrum calls on the Secretary-General to:
The initiative for the joint letter came from the Interparliamentary Human Rights Program of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation, led by Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH) and Rep. Ronald Machtley (R-RI). One hundred fifty members of Congress signed the letter. On the Japanese side, Representative Eda Satsuki of the United Social Democratic Party (Shaminren) and Senator Tetsu Inoue of the Rengo Sangiin Party were instrumental in collecting signatures from 143 members of the Diet.
The lawmakers’ joint letter is significant in urging more vigorous action by the Secretary-General, both in terms of follow up to Mr. Wako’s investigation and the Human Rights Commission consensus declaration as well as in a new proposal to set up a U.N. presence in the territory. Furthermore, in calling for the “initiation of concrete steps to enable the people of East Timor to freely and fairly exercise their right to self determination,” it draws attention to the U.N.’s responsibility to the East Timorese themselves. Although General Assembly and Security Council resolutions adopted in the early years of the Indonesian invasion specifically affirm the right to self-determination of the East Timorese, this key aspect was largely absent in reports by Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar on the negotiations between Indonesia and Portugal which he mediated over the past decade.
The letter also refers to the importance of establishing a “highly visible (UN) profile” to galvanize action by governments on an issue that most of them have ignored. The missive suggests that vigorous action on the part of the Secretary-General “would provide a rallying point around which neutral governments could focus consultative diplomatic activities.”
The joint letter was conveyed to the Secretary-General through his office in Washington on Sept. 22. On Sept. 23 Mr. Boutros-Ghali is due to meet with President Suharto, in New York to address the General Assembly. Suharto is scheduled to visit Japan from Sept. 27 to 29.
In Japan, the joint letter was announced at a press conference in the House of Representatives’ office building and was reported on a nationwide TV news program (NHK) the same day.
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