Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making a difference

Rev. Elice Higginbotham
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
August  2013
Protester with signs outside ETAN's protest of the Appeal to Conscience award's ceremony in New York City. Photo by John M. Miller/ETAN.
Dear friend:

Do you ever wonder if signing a petition makes a difference?

Last spring, some shocked Indonesians informed ETAN that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was to be honored by the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an organization dedicated (it said) to religious tolerance and human rights. Our immediate response was to organize protests against giving the "World Statesman Award" to SBY. Among other actions, we organized online petition that many of you signed.

I am writing to urge you to support ETAN by making a contribution today. Please go to www.etan.org/etan/donate1.htm to donate.

More than 2,000 of you spoke out against the award to SBY by signing ETAN’s petition. The petition motivated a spin-off in Indonesia, which gathered an additional 6,000 signatures, mostly from amazed, amused or outraged Indonesians. I was in Jakarta during this time and many Indonesians expressed their appreciation for ETAN's actions.

We weren’t surprised when SBY did, indeed come to New York to accept the “World Statesman Award.” Our old antagonist, Henry Kissinger, was on hand to present it at a big-ticket fundraising dinner. But so was ETAN’s “welcoming committee” of Indonesian, U.S. and other human rights advocates, who protested the award and spoke out about SBY’s real record on human rights, religious tolerance, and the rule of law in Indonesia.

Our actions helped to draw attention to Indonesia’s continued persecution of religious minorities and other human rights violations. For the first time the semi-weekly public protests by religious minorities in front of the National Palace in Jakarta drew regular media attention. Letters and other denunciations of the award from academics, rights activists, religious figures, and others generated news in Indonesia for weeks prior to the awards ceremony. Calls for SBY to make good on the promises he made in his acceptance speech continue to this day.

We were interested to learn just how “threatening” Indonesia’s diplomats find ETAN. We were told of a meeting among U.S.-based diplomats who blamed ETAN, among others, for the uproar about the award. We heard from Indonesians living in the New York area who had received offers of dollars and dinner to fill seats at the award presentation. Those bused in were forced to participate in a “counter-demonstration” aimed at covering up the truths that ETAN was exposing. We do not have access to the discretionary funds of the Indonesian Embassy; our protest was smaller, but all the more genuine.

Your signature made a difference. And so can your donation.

The “No Award for SBY” petition represents just one of ETAN’s deceptively modest efforts to keep Indonesia - and its continued military and economic support from the U.S. - in the public eye and before policymakers. These efforts have been making a difference for more than two decades and, with your support, will continue to do so.

Please contribute what you can. We depend on support from people like you. People who are dedicated to human and civil rights for the peoples of Indonesia.

Your financial contribution to ETAN will make a difference. With your help, ETAN can continue to:
  • Keep you and others informed about violations of human rights, the role of corporate interests and other developments in West Papua through our monthly report,
  • Respond to calls for action in response to reports of human rights violations,
  • Provide firsthand reports on elections, legislation, economic development in Indonesia, West Papua, and Timor-Leste,
  • Keep you aware of the influence of U.S. policy on events in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and West Papua – and keep U.S. and Indonesian policymakers aware that we are watching them.
Please see our website for information about our current campaigns.
Please give generously, so that together we can continue to make a difference. 
In solidarity,

Elice HigginbothamMember, Board of Directors, ETAN

P.S. Please consider becoming an ETAN sustainer by making a monthly donation by credit card. Help put ETAN on a firmer financial footing: information here.  

No comments:

Post a Comment