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Timor-Leste Solidarity: Solidarity Movements to Celebrate Tenth Anniversary of Timor Referendum: Timorese and International Activists will gather in Dili to reflect on the past and plan for the future

ETAN to Gather in Timor-Leste for Anniversary of Historic Independence Vote

Contact: John M. Miller +1-917-690-4391 (New York, before August 14);
+670-746-7636 (Dili, from August 17)

August 12 - Members of the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) will gather in Timor-Leste later this month to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the country's historic vote for independence.

"In Dili we will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the Timorese people," said John M. Miller, ETAN's National Coordinator. "We will join with Timorese and international activists to look back at the East Timorese struggle for independence and to evaluate the new nation's course since those momentous events. We will explore with our Timorese friends how we can best support Timor-Leste in the future."

"We will also strongly reaffirm our commitment to justice and accountability for the years of crimes against humanity committed by Indonesia with U.S. government backing," he added.


Voters wait their turn on Aug. 30, 1999. Photo by John M. Miller/ETAN


"Our goal is to return home with a deeper understanding of today's Timor and a strengthened commitment and concrete plans for ongoing ties with the people of the still struggling nation," added Pam Sexton a member of ETAN's Executive Committee who has been living in Timor-Leste during the past year.

"The anniversary should not serve only as platform for self-congratulatory speeches by the international community and politicians" said Charles Scheiner, an ETAN co-founder.

"The United Nations and its members need to clearly understand the impact of their failure to help the Timorese people from Indonesian's invasion in 1975 through 1998. International support since then needs to be made more effective and responsive to Timorese needs," added Scheiner works with La'o Hamutuk, a local organization founded soon after the independence vote to monitor international institutions and foster grassroots participation in decision-making.

Contact ETAN to arrange interviews from Timor-Leste.



IFET-OP and UN vehicles at polling place, Aug. 30, 1999. Photo by John M. Miller/ETAN


Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and illegally occupied the territory until October 1999, with backing from the United States and other powers. On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-organized referendum. Following the vote, Indonesian security forces and their militia laid waste to the territory, capping nearly two and half decades of brutal occupation with the destruction of 75% of the buildings and infrastructure. Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) estimates that up to 184,000 Timorese people were killed as a result of the occupation. Timor-Leste became independent in May 2002.

ETAN was a major participant in the International Federation for East Timor's Observer Project, one of the largest international observer missions for the vote in 1999. ETAN members also served as observers with church and parliamentary delegations.

ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for the occupied country. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. ETAN recently won the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award. For more information, see ETAN's web site:

see also

Link to PDF

Kliburoup - Solidaridade Timor-Leste | Timor-Leste Solidarity

For immediate release

For further information:

Charles Scheiner +670‐734‐0965
Xisto dos Santos +670‐726‐6564

Solidarity Movements to Celebrate Tenth Anniversary of Timor Referendum

Timorese and International Activists will gather in Dili to reflect on the past and plan for the future

On 30 August, 1999, hundreds of thousands of Timorese voters braved an Indonesian‐directed terror campaign to cast ballots for independence in a U.N.‐organized referendum. This event, which ended Indonesia's 24-year illegal, brutal military occupation, led to the creation of the Democratic Republic of Timor‐Leste as the first new nation of the millennium. The vote was the culmination of decades of struggle by Timorese people, supported by solidarity activists around the world.

Ten years later, Timorese campaigners and their international colleagues will gather in a peaceful, independent Dili to celebrate that success and rededicate themselves to work to ensure that all the people of Timor-Leste enjoy the benefits of independence and justice.  

Among the events planned are:

An exhibition describing solidarity activities over the years to help the new generation of Timorese youth to learn about campaigns around the world which helped them and their predecessors achieve independence. The exhibition will be in Fundação Oriente, Dili, from 24 August through 5 September.

Visits to rural communities by international activists to expand their understanding of people's daily lives and how they are cooperating for mutual benefit.

A three-day conference to explore current global movements and issues, as well as reflecting on the past and developing shared campaigns to complete the struggle for self-determination, with a focus on ending impunity and achieving social justice. The conference will be held from 27‐29 August in Salão João Paulo II, Comoro, Dili, and will be attended by international supporters, Timorese leaders and youth, and a wide range of grassroots and civil society people. The conference will re‐energize activism in Timor-Leste and around the globe.

Participants are expected from, among other places, Australia, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, the United States and Zimbabwe. They will also join in official observations organized by the Timor-Leste government and the United Nations, as well as the National Congress of Victims Families in early September.

More details and updated information are available at or by emailing

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Member groups include Asosiasaun HAK (TL), Dewan Solidaritas Mahasiswa (TL), East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN/USA), East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign, Estudante Universitarius Timor‐Leste (TL), Fortilos (Indonesia), Free East Timor Foundation (Netherlands), Free East Timor Japan Coalition, GFFTL (TL), Haburas (TL), Institutu Edukasaun Popular (TL), International Federation for East Timor (IFET), KSI (TL), La'o Hamutuk (TL), PARCIC (Japan), Peace center (TL), Timor-Leste Media Development Center (TL). List in formation.


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