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Supporters of East Timor Celebrate Independence

U.S. Supporters of East Timor Celebrate Independence Nationwide

Watershed Victory Marked, Work Ahead Noted

May 19 - Local chapters of East Timor Action Network (ETAN) are celebrating hard won freedom of East Timor, the first new nation of the 21st century. At midnight on May 20, East Timor's flag will be raised over Dili, East Timor's capital, to mark the new nation's independence.

"Words can't express our joy at East Timor's independence," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "We are proud and to have supported the East Timorese people in their struggle for freedom."

Local ETAN activities are planned in 18 cities in 13 states, including Berkeley, CA; Bloomington, IN; Green Bay, WI; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; New York City; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Stony Brook, NY; Tempe, AZ; and Washington, DC. A full schedule of events can be found at http://etan.org/news/calendar.htm.

In addition, the city councils of Madison, Berkeley and San Francisco will consider resolutions congratulating the new nation and its people next week.

Both houses of the U.S. Congress are also considering resolutions strongly supporting the new nation. The resolutions are sponsored by Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) in the Senate (S.Con.Res 109) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) in the House of Representatives.

"We applaud your achievement, won after great hardship and against overwhelming odds. Your victory against occupation by the fourth largest country backed by the world's most powerful nation gives hope and inspiration to all who work for genuine democracy, human rights and self-determination," ETAN said in an independence day statement to the East Timorese people. The network pledged continued support for the new nation. The full statement can be found at http://www.etan.org/news/2002a/05congrats.htm.

In its statement, ETAN dedicated itself to achieving justice for past crimes, the return of all refugees currently in Indonesia who wish to do so, adequate levels of assistance to the new nation; and continued restrictions on U.S. support for the Indonesian military "so that others will not experience abuses at the hands of the military from which [East Timor is] now free."

ETAN also said it "will continue to seek an accurate accounting of our own government's role in supporting Indonesia's invasion and occupation."

In 1975, when Indonesia illegally invaded East Timor 90% of the weapons used came from the U.S. One-third of the population more than 200,000 people - were killed. In 1999, the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-organized referendum. The Indonesian military then ransacked the country, agreeing to withdraw after the U.S. cut off all military assistance and other aid. East Timor's independence follows two and a half years of UN administration.

For over a decade, the East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) has supported self-determination and human rights for East Timor. It continues to work in support human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights, including women's rights.

For additional information see ETAN's web site http://www.etan.org.


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