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Message from East Timor(Please redistribute widely)
There are the makings of a bloodbath here. Many have fled. Many have died. I can see smoke of fires of homes set ablaze in the distance. I have heard gunfire in the distance. The Indonesian military and its creation the militias have refused to accept the democratically expressed wish of the East Timorese to move towards independence.
I have seen East Timorese defy militia and military violence to go vote on August 30 and I have seen their fearful faces. Several days ago, the women hosting us in Becora (just outside Dili) received an early morning phone call and woke us at 4:30 am to tell us we had to move out of where were staying for our own safety. I have since heard reports of many houses burned and people killed in that neighborhood. Another Dili neighborhood I spent time in, Balide, next to the U.N.'s East Timor headquarters is ablaze. Timor Aid, the organization which provided assistance to the parliamentary delegation I worked with to monitor the ballot has been looted of its rice and ransacked. There have also been many reports of people being forced onto vehicles and taken to West Timor, perhaps to bolster an argument for East Timor's partition or worse.
There have been many calls for U.N. or other peacekeepers. These may arrive too late. More guns aren't necessarily what East Timor needs. What is very clear is that the military could shut down the violence relatively quickly. The military is in control. It is they that can stop the killing.
The U.S. and other governments still have tremendous leverage with Indonesia. They must use it all. Statements of serious "consequences." I saw President Clinton's mealy-mouthed statement and it doesn't go nearly far enough. The global community - governments, others, you - must be clear about what these consequences are to let the Indonesian military know that continued violence in East Timor is unacceptable.
Please contact President Clinton and members of Congress now. Urge them to immediatelya) suspend all military shipments to Indonesia, including spare parts and ammunition
b) suspend all non-humanitarian bi-lateral aid and loans to Indonesia
c) work to suspend all multi-lateral loans and aid, including form the IMF and World Bank.
Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1414. Urge President Clinton to immediately suspend all further military and financial aid to Indonesia until the military and paramilitary violence is stopped. The U.S. must show strong support for East Timor's democratic decision to break away from Indonesia.
John Miller, member War Resisters League, and East Timor Action Network Sept. 5, 1999, Dili, East Timor
Site Last Updated:
November 11, 2002