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East Timor Action Network Condemns Killings Calls for Troop Withdrawals and International Monitors

Media Release Nov 23, 1998
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668, Lynn Fredriksson (202) 544-6911

The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today condemned last week's massacre of up to 50 East Timorese by the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) and urged the immediate dispatch of international human rights investigators into the troubled territory.

ETAN will hold a candlelight vigil today to protest the killings in Washington, DC, at the Indonesian Embassy, 2020 Massachusetts Ave., NW, at 5 p.m.

According to reports received over the weekend, between November 9 and 19, at least 50 people were killed by Indonesian soldiers in the subdistrict of Alas, about 200 km from the capital Dili. Over 1000 East Timorese students occupied the East Timor's parliament today to protest the killings

"One death in illegally-occupied East Timor is too many. Recent events show more clearly than ever the need for international-monitoring of both troop levels and the human rights situation in East Timor," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "We are urging the U.S. State Department to press Indonesia to allow international observers as the first steps to a monitored troop withdrawal and a U.N.-supervised referendum on self-determination," added Miller.

Indonesia has claimed that there are no combat troops left in Indonesia and denied that any massacre has taken place in the Alas area. "Indonesia should immediately allow outside observers to verify their claims," said Miller.

Nobel Peace Laureate Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo has said that up to 40 people were killed. Mario Carrascalão, a former governor of the territory and an advisor to Indonesia President B. J. Habibie, has said 44 were killed. The East Timor Human Rights Centre reports at least 28 people disappeared and two dozen arrested. Large numbers of villagers have fled to nearby forests or sought refuge in local churches. Water and food have been cut off to the area.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, on Friday condemned the killings and demanded confirmation of the situation in the area. The Portuguese Government temporarily withdrew in protest from U.N.-sponsored talks with Indonesia on the future of the territory.

On December 7, 1975, the Indonesian military brutally invaded East Timor. The following July, East Timor was illegally but formally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th province." The U.N. and most of the world's countries do not recognize this act, and the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more than 200,000 -- one-third of the population – have been killed by the Indonesian occupation forces.

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor and democracy in Indonesia. ETAN recently released with others leaked Indonesian military documents proving increased troop levels in East Timor, despite Indonesian government claims of withdrawals last summer.