Sunday, December 18, 2011

Freeport and MIFEE in West Papua

Recently published:

Strike at Freeport settled, even as mine’s scars linger- by ETAN's John M. Miller on the end of the strike at Freeport McMoRan's mine and its ongoing impact on West Papua

A few months ago, WIN Magazine published Food vs. Forests, Profits vs. People, by Octo Mote and John M. Miller. The article examines Jarkata's plans for the massive Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) near the Papua New Guinea border. MIFEE's impact will be devastating for people's and environment of the region.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Occupy Jakarta on Papua and Freeport

Max Lane reports that Occupy Jakarta's general assembly passed a resolution on Papua after a week's debate.
"The main points were: an end to all violence against the people of Papua; withdraw the army and police from Papua; freeze Freeport and its assets and hand over its future to a decision of the Freeport workers, local people and traditional leaders; Indonesia must immediately improve infrastructural, health and education facilities; a free dialogue between the Papuan people, Indonesian people and government on the future of Papua, excluding anybody who has received funds from Freeport; democratic rights for the Papuan people as well as efforts to increase productivity there; end stigmatisation of Papuans as criminals or separatists; bring Freeport to justice for human rights violations, environmental damage and violence towards workers; and Freeport to agree to the wage demands of Freeport workers."
Occupy Jakarta, inspired by Occupy Wall Street pickets daily outside the Jakarta stock exchange. It can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tapol responds to Indonesia's denial of political prisoners in Papua

Tapol's Carmel Budiardjo responds to statements by Indonesia's Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, who said that "there are no political prisoners in Papua — only criminals who have broken the law."

In an oped in the Jakarta Globe, the veteran activist writes:
"This is troubling news for Papuans such as Filep Karma, Forkorus Yaboisembut and others who are currently behind bars for expressing their beliefs.
"Djoko’s statement late week is especially puzzling in light of an internal government document, titled “List of Political Prisoners Across Papua,” that was leaked earlier this year to Tapol. The document lists 25 Papuans detained for treason and related offenses. In addition to the government’s own records, numerous NGOs based in Jakarta and Papua, as well as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Tapol, all hold extensive data on political prisoners in Papua the put the number even higher."
She concludes:
"If Indonesia is to move on from its painful past, it should heed the calls to release political prisoners and repeal anti-democratic laws that criminalize the freedom of expression. Only then will Djoko Suyanto truly be able to say that political prisoners no longer exist in Indonesia."

Help ETAN celebrate our 20th Anniversary. Donate today!
Read Noam Chomsky on ETAN's 20th Anniversary
With your help, we can put ETAN on a firmer footing for the future.
 Please give generously in this anniversary year. In doing so, you can help strengthen ETAN to meet the challenges of the coming years.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ETAN National Coordinator reflects on 20 years of ETAN

Read additional reflections on ETAN's 20th Anniversary

John M. Miller, ETAN National Coordinator
Reflecting on ETAN at 20

On November 12, 1991, Indonesia troops carrying U.S. supplied weapons gunned down peaceful East Timorese demonstration at Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery. And I can still recall vividly the tremor in Amy Goodman's voice in her first reports to Pacifica's WBAI radio here in New York, where she was News Director. Those reports inspired several of us who knew each other from organizing campaigns to begin meeting in New York. Out of those meetings ETAN began.

One detail from those reports was especially striking. Amy and Allan Nairn (also from New York) attributed their survival to the fact that they had waved their U.S. passports at the troops that were assaulting them. The journalists were from the same country that the soldiers' weapons came from.

Amy and Allan were the two U.S. eyewitnesses to the massacre and shared their knowledge with our fledgling group. Our first demonstration was on Human Rights Day 1991 at the Indonesian Mission to the UN. Many more were to follow.

Reports of the massacre sparked organizing efforts in cities throughout the U.S. Soon enough, there was ETAN/Rhode Island and ETAN/Los Angeles, then Madison, DC, and San Francisco. Gradually, we found each other and consolidated into ETAN/U.S. (We borrowed our initials - with their blessing - from Canada's East Timor Alert Network.)

We seized the chance to speak out, something that East Timorese could only do at great risk. One early ETAN leaflet bluntly stated that East Timorese could be shot for attending a demonstration, but that we in the United States could at much less risk support them. A simple recitation of the facts was all that was needed to convince many that the U.S. bore substantial responsibility for a grave injustice and that we needed to take responsibility for changing our own country's policies.

ETAN's John M. Miller (with bullhorn) speaks at the Indonesian consulate in Manhattan, January 2000. Protests also took place that day in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Washington, DC.
We built on the efforts of others who had been working on the issues, some since 1975, many in church groups and Congress. But we brought our own energy and new ideas, at times a confrontational approach.

Early on, we determined to be non-partisan (working with people and politicians with a wide-range of views on other subjects). After all, U.S. presidents of both parties had supported Indonesia. We embraced a wide range of tactics from lobbying and letter-writing to supporting lawsuits against Indonesian generals. We spoke inside (and outside) the UN and organized countless demonstrations at Indonesia's diplomatic offices around the U.S. In New York, there were two and we probably have had an equal number of protests at the consulate and mission to the UN. Several hundred were arrested in civil disobedience sit-ins. We organized international election observers in 1999, 2001, and 2007. We successfully sued New York City to have the street in front of the Indonesian consulate temporarily renamed "East Timor Way" in 1999.

We always tried to be accurate; the situation was dire enough not to need exaggeration. This approach has helped us build credibility with the media, officials and others that carries through to today.

Our initial focus was on gaining self-determination for East Timor. Our political strategy was ambitious, but simple. We saw the Indonesian military as crucial to the occupation. The U.S. was the military's chief benefactor, and we set out to sever that relationship. Indonesia would value its ties to the U.S. more than its continued occupation of East Timor. Events would bear out this analysis - more quickly than many of us imagined in late 1991.

We won a quick victory when Congress barred Indonesia from IMET military training in May 1992, in response to our pressure. At the time, few other countries were barred from IMET. We learned that while East Timor wasn't on the radar of many, a few voices from a congressional district or state could sway many members of Congress. Some of them became staunch supporters of East Timorese rights.

In the end, there were very few floor votes directly on East Timor and we lost several of them. But each time East Timor was debated on the floor of congress or in committee, more were educated and more concessions were extracted. Bans on the transfer of categories of military weapons and police equipment were imposed throughout the 1990s, either by the administration (always under Congressional pressure) or Congress.  Indonesia's dictator Suharto twice refused training or weapons in a fit of pique over U.S. criticism of repression in East Timor. Finally in September 1999, responding to a global outcry at Indonesia's destruction after the East Timorese chose independence, President Clinton announced a full cut off of security assistance. The Indonesian military quickly agreed to honor the result of the August 30 UN-organized referendum and withdraw.

We seized the chance to speak out, something that East Timorese could only do so at great risk. One early ETAN leaflet bluntly stated that East Timorese could be shot for attending a demonstration, but that we in the United States could at much less risk support them.

The Congressional and public pressure that contributed to East Timor's independence came from years of organizing within U.S. and the tenacity of the East Timorese people in asserting their rights. ETAN initially built a base of support by borrowing lists from national groups, including the War Resisters League of which I and Charles Scheiner, another ETAN founder, are long time members. These groups allowed us to call their members just once (Brown University students did most of the calling). We also gathered initial support from sign up sheets at talks by Allan, Amy and others and by petitioning at showings of  the documentary "Manufacturing Consent," which features early ETAN supporter Noam Chomsky and includes a substantial section on East Timor.

In the early 1990s, the online organizing was coming into its own as an activist tool, both as a source of information and a way to spur action and activism. The internet enabled us to quickly link up with like-minded groups and individuals to compare information and share strategy. East Timorese leaders abroad were soon in touch and offered encouragement. We in turn supported their activities in the U.S. and at the UN as best we could.
We stayed current with events and activities through the reg.easttimor e-mail listserv, begun by Tapol in Britain the previous year. We soon became major contributors to the list and over time took over the major responsibility for the list, now officially the east-timor list. (People often confuse the list with ETAN the organization at times, to our frustration.). In 1999, when I first went to East Timor to observe the referendum, many Timorese knew my name because of my many posts to the listserv. With access to the internet limited, items from the list would be printed out and passed around. Occasionally, I had to explain that I hadn't written most of them, just forwarded the news, analysis and reports from activists and others. Even now, much of my morning is taken up with the list, which has more subscribers than ever (more than 2600 at last count). 

Help ETAN celebrate our 20th Anniversary. Donate today!
Read Noam Chomsky on ETAN's 20th Anniversary
With your help, we can put ETAN on a firmer footing for the future.
 Please give generously in this anniversary year. In doing so, you can help strengthen ETAN to meet the challenges of the coming years.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

West Papua Report December 2011: Central Highlands targeted, Repression as policy, Climate Change, Sp Autonomy

Read the December 2011 West Papua Report

POLRI GEGANA anti-terrorism troops attacking peaceful flag raisers,
Taokou Village, East Paniai, December 1 (West Papua Media)

  • Security Forces Again Target Civilians in Papuan Central Highlands
  • New Reports on Security Force Attack on Papuan Congress, Call for Accountability
  • Brutal Repression in West Papua: A Product of Rogue Security Forces or Yudhoyono Administration Policy?
  • Where Are Indonesia's Indigenous Voices In The Climate Change Debate?
  • Special Autonomy: A Strategy for Subjugation
  • Peaceful Papuans Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Raising of Papuan National Flag

Two perspectives on December 7, 1975 and its aftermath

Two perspectives on December 7, 1975 and its aftermath

Do not forget those who suffered on 7 December 1975 and beyond
From Timor-Leste's Asosiasaun Vitima Konfitu 74-99 (National Victims' Association)

7 December is a historic day for Timorese people. An unforgettable day for all, but a day least forgotten by the many people who are still suffering everyday from the bitter consequences of the Indonesian invasion of Timor Leste.

7 December 1975 was the starting point of human rights abuses and suffering for the Timorese people. Suffering that would last beyond the 24-year invasion. 36 years on from this tragic day, little has been done to help those who suffered the most, and continue to suffer. While 7 December cannot be erased from our memories, the date can become a catalyst for a new context, a time of healing.

30 October 2011 marked 6 years since the CAVR report Chega! was given to the Parliament of Timor Leste by the President at the time Xanana Gusmao. That report recommended reparations for the victims who suffered during the Indonesian invasion, yet to date there is no state policy for reparations. Instead, it appears the political position has been to forget the past in an attempt to hide the fact that problems still exist as a result of the invasion.

Last week, President Ramos-Horta (again) called upon Parliament to pass law to grant amnesties to perpetrators of mass violence and human rights abuses to enable these people to live free from fear of prosecution. It is an insult to the to victims of those abuses that they have been abandoned by the state while the perpetrators of the atrocities garner the politicians’ support.

 Indonesian Parachute, 7 Dec 1975. From Timor Archives

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mitt Romney on Indonesia as example for Pakistan

The Unspun Blog notes this from the recent Republican presidential candidate debate on foreign policy:

Extract from In debate, Romney says handle Pakistan like Indonesia in the 1960s on
He and the other candidates were asked how they’d deal with Pakistan as president. It’s a tough, important question. Pakistan is a nuclear power that the US sends billions of dollars in aid to, yet works against the American war effort in Afghanistan and appeared to harbor Osama bin Laden.
His answer? “We don’t want to just pull up stakes and get out of town after the enormous output we’ve just made for the region. Look at Indonesia in the ’60s. We helped them move toward modernity. We need to help bring Pakistan into the 21st century, or the 20th for that matter. Right now American approval in Pakistan is 12 percent. We’re not doing a very good job with that investment. We could do better by encouraging the opportunities of the West.”
So Romney's prescription for U.S. policy in Pakistan is backing military organized mass murder, increased repression and corruption.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reflections on 20th Anniversary of Santa Cruz Massacre

worth reading:

Reflections for the Progressive Student Group: Twenty Year Santa Cruz Commemoration at Dili University

By Charles Scheiner, ETAN and La’o Hamutuk


[T]he foreigners responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Timorese people have not been held accountable. 
These were international crimes – the Indonesian invasion of Portuguese Timor (RDTL after 28 November 1975, but Indonesian aggression started before that) violated international law, as dud the thousands of massacres, tortures, rapes, killings and other crimes that were part of the occupation. When people are ordered or paid by one government to commit crimes against people in another country, those are international crimes. When other governments, including my own, give political, military, diplomatic or financial support to these crimes, they also become criminals.

see also

Remembering the Santa Cruz Massacre: A guide to recent commentary and some archival resources on this landmark event (November 2011)

Friday, November 11, 2011

On 20th Anniversary of Timor Massacre, ETAN Urges Justice

U.S. and UN Must Act

For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391,

Photo from Santa Cruz massacre, November 1991
November 12, 2011 - On the 20th anniversary of the infamous massacre at Santa Cruz cemetery in Timor-Leste, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) called for the U.S. and other governments and the United Nations to commit to justice for the victims and their families. The 1991 massacre -- witnessed and filmed by foreign journalists -- was a major turning point in Timor-Leste's struggle for liberation.

"When we saw and heard about the Indonesian military shooting down hundreds of peaceful, unarmed student protesters, we knew we had to do something to stop the killing. The Santa Cruz massacre inspired many around the world to work for justice for the East Timorese people," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "It directly led to the founding of ETAN in the United States, and to our commitment to work for self-determination for Timor-Leste by changing U.S. government policies which had supported the Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation."

"Justice for all those killed, tortured, raped and forced to flee Indonesia’s brutal occupation has been delayed too long," he added.
Many in Timor-Leste are focused on learning the location of their relatives’ graves. The remains of many of the victims have not been found.

“While Timor-Leste is now independent, its people will not be able to overcome their tragic past without knowing what was done with their relatives’ and friends’ bodies. Ongoing impunity for decades of systematic Indonesian military and police atrocities keeps the Timorese and Indonesian people from consolidating their democracies and moving on with their lives,” said Miller. "ETAN will not rest until justice is done."
When we saw and heard about the Indonesian military shooting down hundreds of peaceful, unarmed student protesters, we knew we had to do something to stop the killing.
ETAN urged Congress and the Obama administration to respond to the recommendations of Timor-Leste's Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, including its calls for an international tribunal to try perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the Indonesian occupation, reparations from Indonesia and other countries that supported the occupation, and restrictions on foreign assistance to the Indonesian military.

"President Obama should urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately release all information that can help identify and locate those who were disappeared during the occupation,” said Miller. The two leaders are scheduled to meet in the coming weeks.
"Obama must restrict U.S. military assistance until the Indonesian generals and political leaders who organized and directed numerous crimes during the 24-years of illegal occupation are credibly tried," Miller added.

Background On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a memorial procession - turned into a peaceful pro-independence demonstration - at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. More than 270 mostly-young Timorese were murdered. Unlike previous mass atrocities committed during Indonesia's 24-year occupation, the massacre was witnessed by the NY-based Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn and other international journalists. Their first-hand reports, video and photographs were shown worldwide. The Santa Cruz massacre galvanized international support for Timor-Leste and was the catalyst for congressional action to stem the flow of U.S. weapons and other assistance for Indonesia’s security forces.

The response from people across the United States to the U.S. government’s complicity in the oppression of the East Timorese  – was so compelling that they had to keep working. One year later, grassroots pressure persuaded the U.S. Congress to terminate taxpayer-funded training for Indonesian soldiers in the United States.
One month after the massacre, on International Human Rights Day (December 10), a few dozen concerned people picketed in front of the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations in New York City. Although they did not intend to start an ongoing movement, the Timorese cause – and the response from people across the United States to the government’s complicity in the oppression of the East Timorese – was so compelling that they had to keep working. One year later, grassroots pressure persuaded the U.S. Congress to terminate taxpayer-funded training for Indonesian soldiers in the United States, the first of many legislative victories which eventually moved Washington from supporting to opposing the murderous occupation.
In a recent statement, ANTI (Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal), demanded that the United Nations Security Council "cut the chain of impunity in Timor-Leste and other countries' by establishing a credible International Tribunal in order to judge the principal perpetrators of serious crimes and crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste during the Indonesian occupation."

During more than two decades of occupation of Timor-Leste, Indonesian soldiers committed serious crimes with impunity, taking as many as 184,000 Timorese lives and torturing, raping and displacing countless others. Timor-Leste became independent in 2002.

Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation researched and documented the nation’s experiences during the occupation. The Commission’s comprehensive 2,500-page report recommended establishment of an international criminal tribunal and also advocated that countries (including the U.S.) which backed the occupation and corporations which sold weapons to Indonesia during that period should pay reparations to victims. The Commission urged the international community not to support Indonesia's military until it was thoroughly reformed and respectful of human rights.

Indonesia has agreed to provide information about the fate of the disappeared but has failed to do so. The joint Timor-Leste-Indonesia Commission on Truth and Friendship recommended the creation of a Commission for Disappeared Persons "to acquire information about the fate of disappeared people and cooperate to gather data and provide information to their families." Work on this issue has been repeatedly thwarted by Indonesia.

ETAN was formed in reaction to the Santa Cruz massacre. The U.S.-based organization, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information on the massacre see or ETAN's web site:
see also

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cheer Timorese runners, Jeer Kissinger in NYC

Sunday, November 6, 2011 - Support East Timorese marathoners. We'll meet at the corner of 4th Ave. and Bergen St. in Brooklyn at 10 am. to cheer them on. Details below.
Monday, November 7, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Protest the honoring of war criminal Henry Kissinger by the New York Historical Society, 
The Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Ave. between 49 & 50 St., New York, NYETAN needs your financial support: Please donate! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011 Support East Timorese Marathoners
Two of Timor-Leste's top long-distance runners - Calisto da Costa and Lola Gonsalves Gama - are participating in the New York City Marathon this weekend. Join ETAN in cheering them on! Meet at thecorner of 4th Ave. and Bergen St. in Brooklyn at 10 am. to wave Timor flags, carry supportive signs (make and bring one if you can), and otherwise show our support for the runners. Don't forget to change your clocks the night before to end daylight savings. Later in the day, we plan to move to a spot near the finish line along Central Park South.  For more information or contact, 917-690-4391.

More details on Facebook:  or ETAN's,_NY_
Nearest subway is Atlantic Avenue: D, N, R, 2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q


Protest the honoring of war criminal Henry Kissinger by the New-York Historical Society of Henry Kissinger 

November 7, 20115:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

The Waldorf-Astoria
301 Park Ave. between 49 & 50 St., New York, NYContact ETAN if you can help or for more info.

Spread the word - download flyer here - on Facebook: and on ETAN's website:


Please donate! Support ETAN: ETAN on Twitter:

West Papua Report November 2011

West Papua Report November 2011 is now out:

Summary: Indonesian security forces attacked a mass gathering in the Papua capital, Jayapura, and striking workers at the Freeport mine in the southern highlands. At least five people were killed and many more injured in the assaults, which show a renewed pattern of overt violence against peaceful dissent. A brutal and unjustified October 19 attack on thousands of Papuans exercising their rights to assembly and freedom of speech resulted in the death of at least three Papuan civilians, the beating of many, detention of hundreds and arrest of six, reportedly on treason charges. The Obama administration has largely ignored the egregious violation of human rights, instead advancing U.S.-Indonesian military ties. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who arrived in Indonesia in the immediate wake of the Jayapura attack, avoided criticism of the assault and reaffirmed U.S. support for Indonesia's territorial integrity, a snub to Papuans quest for self-determination. Panetta also reportedly commended Indonesia's handling of a weeks-long strike at the U.S.-based Freeport McMoRan mine which has seen eight killings and revealed cash payments by Freeport to the police. Indonesia's response to the growing crisis in West Papua is to increase the militarization of the territory and to dispatch a special unit that is headed by a notorious former military officer whose record in dealing with Aceh bears ominous implications for the Papuans.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Contact: John M. Miller, 917-690-4391
Tom Keough, 718-768-6171

Historians Condemn Honoring of Kissinger

Urge New-York Historical Society to Withdraw Honor

November 3 - In a letter sent yesterday, more than 110 historians urged the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS) to "withdraw the name of Henry Kissinger as an honoree" at its upcoming event scheduled for November 7, 2011.

In their letter to the Society's Board of Trustees, the scholars wrote: "Kissinger remains one of the twentieth century’s worst war criminals, and to pretend otherwise is to condone his crimes. It is difficult to understand how the New-York Historical Society could consider honoring such a man." 

The letter with the list of signers can be found here (PDF).

"The failure to hold Kissinger to account for his myriad crimes has allowed him to continue dispensing recommendations for new wars and foreign interventions," the letter says. "The failure to confront this record has facilitated the invasion of Iraq, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the policy of rendition and the detentions at Guantánamo Bay, and other illegal actions of the 'war on terror.'"

Between 1969 and 1977, Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State. He designed and implemented policies which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, the overthrow of democratically-elected governments, and the invasion and occupation of sovereign countries. Examples include the invasion of Cambodia, the overthrow of the government of Chile and Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor.

Should the N-YHS continue with its plan to honor Kissinger, protesters will gather outside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Monday, November 7 to express their outrage. Demonstrators will gather from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 301 Park Ave. (between 49 & 50 St.) in Manhattan to condemn the honoring of the accused war criminal by the society at a $1000 a ticket gala.


see also Background on Kissinger, Ford and East Timor

Please donate! Support ETAN

Follow ETAN on Twitter

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MIFEE in West Papua

From Food vs. Forests, Profits vs. People by John M. Miller and Octo More in WIN Magazine on the  Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) in West Papua:
"Merauke’s mythic stature will make the Indonesian government all the more sensitive to opposition.Land-grabbing is not new in West Papua; it has happened since colonial times (see sidebar). Every acre of Papuan land that has been claimed for a national project was taken by force. In a sense, there is nothing new about the Indonesian government’s latest project, Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), nor is there anything new about West Papuan resistance."
Read the rest here

Protest against MIFEE in Jayapura. Photo: SORPATOMNews

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sign the Petition, Support a Deb-Free East Timor

Don't Let the Bankers Occupy Dili!
Support a Debt-Free Timor-Leste

Support a Debt-Free Timor-Leste

This is a joint project of ETAN and Timor's Movimento Kontra Deve, a coalition of civil society organizations in Timor-Leste opposed to the country taking out loans.

UPDATE: As additional background see La'o Hamutuk's Submission to Timor-Leste's National Parliament 
Regarding the Proposed General State Budget for 2012 (PDF)

ETAN on Papua attacks, Freeport strike

UPDATE: Read U.S. Congressman Faleomavaega's letter to the Indonesian ambassador, which concludes "It is obvious the actions by the TNI and police are contrary to the commitments made by President Yudhoyono to solve the issues in West Papua in a 'peaceful, just, and dignified manner.'"

ETAN joined others in two recent statements on events in West Papua.

With Tapol and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT), ETAN condemned the assault on the close of the peaceful Third Papuan Congress. The groups demanded the release of those arrested. The release - Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage - also included comments from Lord Avebury, Vice Chair of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group and U.S. Congressmember Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS). Tapol's  Carmel Budiardjo said "The daily discrimination and violations experienced by Papuans are bad enough, but an attack of this nature on a democratic congress is an absolute outrage. ETAN is quoted as saying “The right to gather and speak out is a fundamental freedom, it doesn’t just disappear because the government doesn't like what is being said.”

Events are still unfolding with new information that at least six were killed in the Indonesian security force attack.

Some of the 100s arrested at Papua Congress.

In a separate statement WPAT and ETAN, expressed concern over 
"the escalating violence in the area of [Phoenix, Arizona]-based Freeport McMoran's massive gold and cooper mining operation located in the Timika-Tembagapura area of West Papua. Workers have been on strike since September 15 seeking higher wages on par with those that Freeport pays workers at its mines elsewhere. Freeport's response has been to stonewall, reject worker demands, and hire scab workers."
The groups said the U.S. government
should publicly emphasize its commitment to respect for worker rights in the context of the ongoing labor dispute. It should urge Freeport to negotiate in good faith with its workers. It is urgent that the U.S. government press the Indonesian government to forego the use of violence in addressing the current tensions in the area of the mining operation. The U.S. government also should investigate Freeport operations, especially actions taken by security forces at Freeport's behest to date. Finally, it is high time that the U.S. Congress undertake, including through committee hearings, a review of Freeport operations which have for decades undermined respect for the United States in Indonesia and West Papua.
Freeport strikers

UPDATE: Three more were shot dead at the mine on October 21.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wrong example

A intervention by by Teguh Santoso(a lecturer at Indonesia Islam University) on Western Sahara before the United Nations' Fourth Committee, avoids mentioning the most relevant Indonesian experience. Santoso told the committee (as summarized by the UN) that that "the dispute about Western Sahara was quite similar to what Indonesia had experienced in the last decade," without acknowledging that  Indonesia's December 1975 illegal invasion and occupation of East Timor, which is exactly parallel to Morocco's illegal invasion of Western Sahara.

Instead he refers to what he calls "a similar situation," which Indonesia had solved "peacefully through democratic circumstances. As a result, Aceh and Papua enjoyed special autonomy status. Only genuine democracy could solve the Western Sahara dispute, and the [Morocco's unilateral] special autonomy plan was an outcome of the high degree of democracy in Morocco."

However, a truly democratic plan would allow the Saharawi to exercise their right to self-determination. A free and fair vote under UN-supervision would allow them the choice of say autonomy under Morocco or independence. Morocco (with the diplomatic and other support of its close allies France and the U.S.) has done everything it can to undermine U.N. resolutions and plans for a vote. 

For many years, Indonesia did the same (also with U.S. support) to East Timor. Belatedly , the East Timorese people exercised their right to self-determination in 1999. In the face of threats of retaliation that were soon realized, they expressed their choice of independence.

As we wrote in 2009 in a submission to the Fourth Committee:

In doing so, the people of Timor-Leste exercised their inalienable right and expressed their "passionate yearning for freedom" described by the UN General Assembly nearly 50 years ago in its 1960 declaration (1514 (XV)) on decolonization, which unambiguously declared that "all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine political status…"

We added: 
It should embarrass this institution – and all of you as representatives of United Nations member states – that this committee must continue to discuss the situation of Western Sahara. The discussion should have ended long ago, and its people should have exercised their right to self-determination.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 2011 West Papua Report

Read the new West Papua Report here

Summary: Papuans will convene a third "National Congress," an historic convocation that follows congresses in 1961 and 2000. Military and police forces have attacked civilian homes, purportedly in pursuit of those responsible for an August incident that may have been staged. In the wake of growing violence, leading human rights organizations have called on the Indonesian government to "re-assess" its resort to military measures to address dissent in West Papua. The giant mining firm Freeport McMoran is facing growing pressure from labor and the government. The attention focused on Freeport has once more brought to light the enormous profits and tax revenues flowing from the mining operation. These riches stand in stark contrast to the grinding poverty endured by Papuans whose resources Freeport is exploiting. The UN Secretary General has publicly retreated from comments in which he appeared to recognize the need for the UN Decolonization Committee and the Human Rights Council to take up the denial of Papuan rights to self-determination and other violations of human rights.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Headlines with links from east-timor listserv now on Twitter

Headlines with links from ETAN's long-running east-timor English language news listserv are now available on Twitter -!/TimorNews

To receive postings via e-mail into your In Box subscribe here:

subscribe today to the east-timor listserv

Info on ETAN's other listservs is here

Timorese urges support for ETAN

Dear ETAN supporters and friends of Timor-Leste,

The years fly by, and soon we’ll observe the 20th anniversary of the founding of East Timor and IndonesiaAction Network (ETAN). ETAN started a month after the Santa Cruz massacre in November 1991, when hundreds of peaceful East Timorese protesters were shot down by Indonesian troops. When a few dozen peace and human rights activists held a vigil in front of the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations on International Human Rights Day – December 10, 1991 – they didn’t plan to make a two-decade commitment. And none of them imagined that within eight years, Timor-Leste would be free of Indonesian troops, on the way to becoming a sovereign member of the international community.

ETAN’s work is still essential. The organization has lived for 20 years based on the dedicated activism and the generous support of people like you, who steadfastly believed and worked to support the right to self-determination, to justice and accountability, to human rights, and to social and economic justice for the people of Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

As a Timorese woman and a human rights activist, I know that ETAN’s work was crucial to freedom of my homeland.

I am writing you now to ask you to support ETAN with as generous a contribution as possible. 

I first learned about ETAN in 1998 when I attended the third summit of the Asia Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET). Together with four other members of the underground student group RENETIL, I traveled to Thailand. It was my first trip abroad (apart from Indonesia), and it was my first opportunity to meet one of ETAN's founders, Charlie Scheiner. I heard first hand about ETAN’s impressive work.

Since that first encounter, I have had tremendous admiration and respect for ETAN and its members’ unshakable commitment to continue shining a light on justice and human rights in Timor-Leste and Indonesia. It is the only solidarity group which carries the mantle of upholding the rights of the people of Timor-Leste and Indonesia, working persistently and fearlessly to hold the world’s governments, especially the United States, to account for complicity in rights violations.

Mica Barreto Soares (2nd from left) speaking at APCET conference in Bangkok,
1998. Photo by Jude Conway.
My brothers and sisters in Timor-Leste and Indonesia who continue to cry for justice still need ETAN’s clear and firm voice. ETAN is their mouthpiece from a distance! ETAN’s long track record speaks for itself as it has built relationships and made change at the United Nations, through four U.S. presidencies and in the halls of Congress. As Timor-Leste evolves, we are learning that building a new nation from the ashes of occupation, war and colonialism is as challenging as ending a foreign military occupation, and we continue to learn from and lean on ETAN, which looks ahead as it presses for accountability for past crimes.

Recently, as it has for years, ETAN opposed U.S. resumption of training for the Indonesian military’s notorious Kopassus special forces , that tortured and killed so many in my country and continues to oppress the people of West Papua. ETAN supported a Congressional letter calling for the freedom of West Papuan political prisoner, Filep Karma.

During the last few weeks, ETAN coordinated with Timor-Leste’s Movement against Debt, a statement against currently debt-free Timor taking out of loans.

If ETAN can raise enough resources, ETAN will coordinate an observer mission for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections, as they did in 1999, 2001 and 2007. This is a critical time for Timor-Leste, and experienced, nonpartisan international observers will help solidify democracy in my young country be ensuring free and fair elections.

I recently completed two years in graduate school at Ohio University, and I relied on ETAN’s email list to keep up with events back home and with solidarity around the globe. Many of my Timorese friends also rely on this long-running and vital service, which has more than 2,500 readers in Timor-Leste and around the world.

For 20 years, ETAN has operated on a shoestring budget. Please join me in helping ETAN have a happy anniversary, so that it can continue its essential work. We need to keep ETAN strong. You can help by making a generous contribution to ETAN today.

Thank you!

Mica Barreto Soares

P.S. You can contribute safely through ETAN's website belowYou can also mail your donation. To support ETAN’s advocacy work, write a check made out to “East Timor Action Network”. Tax-deductible donations of over $50, to support ETAN’s educational efforts only, can be made out to “A.J. Muste Memorial Institute/ETAN.” Please mail your donations to: ETAN, PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873. Thank you for your support.

To support ETAN’s advocacy work, please make your check out to East Timor Action Network” and mail it to
ETAN, PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873

Donate by credit card (not tax-deductible) via PayPal -
Give a U.S. tax-deductible donation by credit card -
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Donations of any size for ETAN's political and advocacy work should be made out to ETAN and are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible checks for more than $50 can also be made out to "AJ Muste Memorial Institute/ETAN" and  will only be used to support our educational work.

Please mail your donation to: 

PO Box 21873
Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Thank you for your support.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Groups urge Timor-Leste not to take on debt

UPDATE (September 9, 2011): 20 additional groups have signed the statement. Complete list here.
If your organization wants to join this statement, contact us.

 Groups worldwide urge debt-free Timor-Leste not to borrow
Pending loans could endanger Timor's future

8 September 2011 - Timor-Leste and international organizations today urged "the government of Timor-Leste to keep the nation debt-free and refrain from borrowing money from international lenders.... to protect its future generations."

The groups argue that "Rather than repeat the mistakes of other developing countries that have struggled with debt during recent decades, Timor-Leste should learn from their experiences, which often inflicted great hardships on their people."

When Timor-Leste's oil and gas run out in less than 15 years, and debts still must be repaid, Timor-Leste's children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences.
The letter warns that, despite Timor-Leste's current petroleum wealth: "When Timor-Leste's oil and gas run out in less than 15 years, and debts still must be repaid, Timor-Leste's children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences."

The letter was initiated by Timor-Leste's Movimento Kontra Deve (Movement Against Debt, facilitated by La’o Hamutuk) and the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). 

The full text of the statement in Tetum and English with a complete list of signers can be found on ETAN's website and .

Logo of Freedom from Debt Coalition - PhilippinesThe statement was endorsed by 117 137 organizations based in 28 32 countries. International networks with long experience in opposing onerous debt on developing countries are among the signers, including: Focus on the Global South, Jubilee South - Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, Third World Network and CADTM International (Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt).

Twenty groups in Timor-Leste signed the statement, including the Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk), NGO Forum, Student Front, Community Leaders Forum, Haburas Foundation and ETADEP. Signing organizations from Timor-Leste’s southeast Asian neighbors include WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Freedom from Debt Coalition ­ Philippines, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) and EARTH (Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand).

Other signers include sustainable development advocates and groups that have long supported the people of Timor-Leste, such as Jubilee USA, the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, Oil Change International (USA), Aidwatch (Australia), Friends of the Earth U.S., Bank Information Center (USA), Tapol (U.K.), CAFOD (U.K.), Japan East Timor Coalition, and the Free East Timor Foundation (VOT, Utrecht, the Netherlands).

Income from oil and gas provides 95% of Timor-Leste's state revenue, making the country the most petroleum-export dependent in the world. Although Timor-Leste has not yet borrowed funds from other countries or international financial institutions, the government has passed several laws to enable borrowing, including the 2009 Budget and Financial Management Law, as well as revisions to the Petroleum Fund Law and the new Public Debt Law both passed just two weeks ago. In early August, the Asia Development Bank posted information on its website about a proposed $8.15 million loan to Timor-Leste to upgrade the national road network.

The Movimento Kontra Deve is a coalition of civil society organizations in Timor-Leste opposed to the country taking out loans. ETAN ( is a 20-year old U.S.-based group working in solidarity with the people of Timor-Leste.

Additional background on Timor-Leste and borrowing can be found in