The East Timor Action Network on Cut Military Ties
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN/US) welcomed the Clinton Administration's decision this week to suspend military and financial aid to Indonesia in response to the Indonesian military's savage campaign of killing, forced relocation, and destruction in East Timor. Even as Indonesia's President B.J. Habibie announced that Indonesia would accept an international force in East Timor, however, international observers continue to receive credible reports of atrocities committed by the Indonesian Army, police, and paramilitaries against a defenseless civilian population.
Thousands are feared dead in attacks by Indonesian military and paramilitary forces, since the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly on August 30 for their independence from Indonesia in a UN-managed referendum. Indonesian forces have systematically targeted and killed church workers, priests and nuns. Perhaps one third of East Timor's residents have been driven from their homes, with tens of thousands facing death from starvation and disease. UN officials in East Timor and governments around the world have condemned the direct involvement of the Indonesian army and police in what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called the "savage terrorizing" of people throughout the territory.
"The Clinton Administration's decision to cut all military aid to Indonesia is an important recognition of Indonesia's responsibility for the ongoing killing in East Timor," said Lynn Fredriksson, ETAN's Washington Representative. "We acknowledge and appreciate the decisions of the U.S. and other governments to halt military and financial assistance to Indonesia, but fear that delays in implementing these critical actions will have cost thousands of lives and allowed the devastation of East Timor's fragile infrastructure."
Under increasing pressure from Congress, human rights groups, and outraged world opinion, the U.S. this week cut military to military ties (including remaining training programs), government military transfers and commercial weapons sales to Indonesia. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank suspended pending funds. The U.S. effectively suspended further bilateral financial assistance until the Indonesian government moves to immediately end the staggering violence in East Timor. In addition, President Clinton announced U.S. technical support for an international peacekeeping mission and strongly urged Indonesia to invite its presence. Such pressure is widely believed responsible for Indonesian President Habibie's decision to allow "international forces" into East Timor.
ETAN/US National Coordinator Charlie Scheiner, who recently returned from East Timor, said "the U.S. should fully support the immediate assumption by the United Nations of security and administrative functions in East Timor. But such steps will only be effective if the U.S. intensifies pressure on the Indonesian military to immediately disarm and disband its paramilitary forces, begin the complete withdrawal of its troops from East Timor, and allow the return of those forcibly displaced by this campaign of terror in recent weeks."