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ETAN Statement on U.S. and Indonesian Commitments

Statement of the East Timor Action Network Following Suspension of U.S. Aid to Indonesia and Indonesian Agreement to Allow International Force into East Timor

12 September, 1999, Washington, DC

The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) welcomes international political actions over the past 72 hours to stop the Indonesian military's attempted genocide in East Timor. Beginning with President Clinton's statement on Thursday afternoon, the international community has finally acted to suspend military and financial assistance to Indonesia until atrocities are stopped and peace is restored. By Saturday, the U.S. cut off military to military ties (including remaining training programs), government military transfers and commercial weapons sales to Indonesia. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have suspended pending funds. The U.S. has effectively suspended further bilateral financial aid to the government of Indonesia until it stops or allows the international community to stop continuing attacks that have killed hundreds and driven tens of thousands into exile in the past week in East Timor. President Clinton also announced U.S. technical support for an international peacekeeping mission and strongly urged Indonesia to invite the presence of such a mission.

Even today, East Timor remains under siege as Indonesian military and police forces, and Indonesian-backed paramilitaries rampage through Dili and other provinces of the occupied territory. Recent reports and refugee interviews point to at least seven incidents of mass killing and countless individual attacks, now targeting church workers, priests and nuns, since the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly on August 30 for their independence from Indonesia in a UN-managed referendum. Today only a handful of foreign reporters remain to tell the stories of burning, kidnapping, beatings, rapes, and murder, as some 80 courageous UN workers remain in the UN compound to protect over a thousand refugees.

ETAN acknowledges and appreciates the actions of the U.S. and other international actors in cutting off military and financial assistance, but fears that delays in implementing these critical actions will have cost the lives of thousands and the devastation of East Timor's fragile infrastructure. Responding to intense pressure internationally and from Congress and human rights groups at home, President Clinton halted U.S. support for an Indonesian military widely acknowledged for months to be financing, arming and organizing paramilitary groups in an attempt to undermine the UN referendum process by force. Today we have learned that Indonesian President Habibie has in fact decided to accept an international force in East Timor.

ETAN is concerned that military assistance and other aid may be restored unless locked into place through congressional action. The U.S. must continue to withhold support until Indonesia has fully withdrawn from East Timor and dismantled the military apparatus responsible for gross human rights abuses against the people of East Timor, Aceh, West Papua/Irian Jaya and other areas of Indonesia. The culprits are not rogue elements but official units of the Indonesian security apparatus, which is not under effective civilian control and commits atrocities with almost total impunity.

ETAN recalls that just last year public exposure forced the suspension of the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program through which the Pentagon continued to supply the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus), now operating in East Timor, with combat training despite congressional intent. A full accounting of current U.S. government transfers and commercial weapons sales to Indonesia for FY 1999 must be made public to ensure adequate oversight of these cut-offs. Further, cut-offs should include all categories of military assistance, allowing no further loopholes.

Foreign journalists, UN officials, and nonpartisan observers have extensively documented the Indonesian military's role in creating, training, arming and directing paramilitary forces in East Timor, and their direct participation in systematic attacks against the civilian population and infrastructure of the territory. ETAN welcomes support from the human rights community and encourages further action by the U.S. Congress to officially explore these nefarious ties that keep East Timor from freedom and the Indonesian people from democracy blocked by a still military controlled regime.

We commend the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP), including some 70 U.S. residents, for their courageous presence to monitor the UN process and report on paramilitary violence and conditions in East Timor, until their evacuation one week ago.

ETAN calls on the U.S. Congress and Administration to fully support an international force intended to establish immediate UN control of administration and security in East Timor. This should include not only strategic lift, logistical and communications support. It should also include continued political pressure for the immediate end to martial law, the full and monitored withdrawal of Indonesian troops, the isolating, disarming, and disbanding of paramilitary units, and the arrest of their leaders as well as Indonesian military officers known to have assisted their attacks.

ETAN strongly regrets delayed U.S. action that allowed circumstances to reach a point after which the current UN mission was made ineffective. We call for an immediate increase in the UNAMET mandate and a serious increase in the numbers of UNAMET personnel. ETAN has repeatedly objected to this limited mandate as well as the flawed May 5 UN agreement that gave Indonesia responsibility for security around the vote. This has always been fatal hypocrisy, and we are witnessing today the sad consequences of allowing the Indonesian military to supervise the safety of those they have brutalized for almost 24 years.

ETAN appreciates Indonesian President Habibie's invitation to an international force and calls on the Indonesian government to voluntarily withdraw its troops from East Timor immediately and allow the UN to take over. It is not yet too late for the Indonesian government to claim some historical victory by allowing the resumption of a peaceful transition for East Timor to independence.

ETAN calls on the UN to reestablish its presence and move forward with its supervision of a long-term transition process with international assistance.

ETAN expresses deepest concern that humanitarian aid teams, both international and non-governmental, be allowed into East Timor immediately. We call on the international community to provide substantial financial and practical support for air lifts of emergency food, water and medical supplies to all refugee camps, containment areas, and church sanctuaries both in East Timor and West Timor. Further, we strongly urge the Indonesian government to work with the international community to make provisions to locate and return all refugees who were forcibly removed or who fled from Timor island over the last weeks and months.

Finally, we stress the urgency of these matters and ask the international community to take these necessary steps within the next days. There is no time to wait. The lives of thousands of innocent East Timorese civilians hang in the balance.


East Timor Action Network 110 Maryland Avenue NE #30 Washington, DC 20002
202-544-6911; 202-546-5103 (fax),


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