U.S. and UN Must Act
"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.
“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.
"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.
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.
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.
Timor-Leste's 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 http://etan.org/timor/SntaCRUZ.htm or ETAN's web site:http://www.etan.org.