Self Determination- Support It!

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Mon Aug 21 00:26:43 MDT 2000

It is a curious independence and 'self determination' that is gained by
lobbying Madeleine Albright.       But isn't that how East Timor became
a country?       It wasn't that the East Timorese resistance beat
anybody, not even with the support of Leftist protest in Australia, the
US, and elsewhere on their side.

As I write this, Albright is finishing up with a swing through South
America in support of Plan Colombia.       She visited Ecuador,
Argentina, and Colombia in the region.       She was not suporting self
determination for anybody in those regions.     And she won't in the
future, either.

We are to believe that pressure forced Clinton and Albright to advance
East Timor on the road to 'self determination'?     Or was it the chaos
in Indonesia after the fall of Suharto, combined with a fierce guerrilla
movement from the Timorese themselves?

I am very distrustful of delusions of power on the Left; the belief that
change is being effected by activities of Leftists when that is not the
actual case.      It's often used to delude oneself, or one's group,
that something is being done that is the complete opposite of what is
actually happening.

May it be suggested,  that achieving 'self determination' for the East
Timorese or Aceh (or any where else, for that matter) will not be
accomplished by 'writing, faxing, calling, or emailing' Madeleine
Albright.       If she changes her position, it is not out of charity or
friom your lobbying effort.       Though I hear that part of her
economic package to Ecuador will include funding for formula, for those
needy infants there.

Clinton and Albright promised a false 'self determination' for the East
Timorese and the Albanian Kosovars, and at the same time they weakened
self determination for Yugoslavia and Indonesia.

It is a great thing to support the self determination of oppressed
groups like the East Timorese or the Aceh, if at the same time you are
moving forward the self determination of the entire Third World country
of Indonesia.     This is what is lacking.

At the time that Australian and US activists are breaking the back of
their own respective governments control over Indonesia, that's when
self determination is in the process of being supported.       But has
anybody yet started building the movement for that?

Tony Abdo
The below is a rosy article from the December 1999 ESTAFETA- East Timor
Action Network.

Albright Supports Indonesian Troop Reductions and Transparency in East
Timor, Calls for Xanana's Release
by Lynn Fredriksson, DC Representative

Two recent developments illustrate a shift in U.S. policy on East Timor.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a November letter to
Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, formalized the new stance by
writing, "We will continue to reiterate to Indonesia the importance of
implementing agreed confidence building measures, including its pledge
to reduce overall troop levels. We will continue to call for the release
of prisoners of conscience, including Xanana Gusmao."

Perhaps even more surprisingly, long-time Indonesian regime supporter
Douglas Bereuter (R-NE), Chair of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee in
the House, called for Xanana's release from Cipinang Prison after
meeting with the East Timorese resistance leader in January.

The Albright and Bereuter statements followed important legislative
victories in 1998, and the release by ETAN and other solidarity groups
last October of leaked documents proving Indonesian troop levels are
more than double Indonesian government figures. In July, the U.S.

Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting a referendum. By
October, the full Congress went on record as supporting
self-determination, in a statement attached to the Omnibus
Appropriations Act.

That mammoth Act also extended a six-year ban on the International
Military Education and Training (IMET) program, and called for a
detailed report of all overseas training to foreign militaries conducted
or planned by the Pentagon.

(This provision and the Defense Authorization Act's funding ban on
training involving units guilty of human rights violations in any
country resulted from the controversy over the Joint Combined Exchange
Training (JCET) of Indonesian troops, revealed by ETAN, Rep. Lane Evans
(D-IL) and Allan Nairn in March 1998.)

Further, the 105th Congress renewed a provision from last year's
legislation requiring that any agreement to sell, transfer or license
lethal equipment to the Indonesian military state that the U.S. expects
the weapons will not be used in East Timor.

Our 1998 successes were reinforced during the January recess by Senate
and House letters to Albright calling for U.S. support for permanent UN
monitors and genuine troop withdrawals in East Timor. Senators Feingold
(D-WI), Reed (D-RI), Harkin (D-IA) and Wellstone (D-MN), and Reps. Hall
(D-OH), Wolf (R-VA), Olver (D-MA), Lowey (D- NY), Lantos (D-CA),
McGovern (D-MA) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) expressed their concern to
State over military atrocities committed in rural areas of the occupied

Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth met with Xanana several times
during 1998. Those meetings, and visits with the East Timorese leader by
UN Special Envoy on East Timor Jamsheed Marker and Congressmen Bereuter,
Jim Greenwood (R-PA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) likely indicate an
effort to end the controversy over East Timor's political status without
formally including East Timorese representatives in UN-supervised talks
(for more on UN negotiations, see other front page article).

ETAN accomplished a lot in Washington this year, thanks in part to the
wonderful help of temporary Washington Organizer Simon Doolittle. We now
enter a new congressional year without Simon and need your grassroots
support more than ever. We are considering hiring a permanent second
staffer in Washington; contact ETAN if you are interested.

Over the next few months, we will be advancing legislation to close
loopholes that allowed JCET and other U.S.-supplied training for
Indonesian soldiers. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Lane Evans
(D-IL) are preparing to reintroduce the International Military Training
Transparency and Accountability Act; please ask your representative to
be an original co-sponsor.

In addition to maintaining and strengthening existing provisions, we
will work to cut off remaining weaponry that the U.S. still provides the
Indonesian regime. We will seek mechanisms to verify Indonesian
compliance with the prohibition on U.S. weapons in East Timor, and U.S.
compliance with current restrictions on training for the Indonesian

I strongly encourage ETAN activists to write, fax, call and email
Stanley Roth and Madeleine Albright . We must also keep up congressional
pressure on the State Department (for Congressional and State contact
information, see action alert, p. 9). Encourage your Representatives and
Senators to host hearings, initiate a sign-on letter, make statements on
the floor or in committee, or join a congressional delegation to East

Continue to push our basic demands: Xanana's unconditional release,
formal East Timorese participation in UN talks, and genuine self-
determination through a UN-supervised referendum. I can't stress enough
the importance of letters to the editor, op-eds, radio interviews and

A year ago many of us would not have dreamed 1998 would witness the fall
of Suharto, and Indonesian and East Timorese people demonstrating in
mass numbers in the streets of Jakarta and Dili. As the people of both
countries continue their struggle, we in the U.S. have a unique
privilege: we can demand that our government help them to achieve their

As Jose Ramos-Horta recently said about Australia's new policy on East
Timor, "It requires courage and vision as well as statesmanship to
reverse an old published policy." It also requires public pressure. We
can't let up now. A luta continua!


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