ETAN To Obama Administration: U.S. Military Assistance Will Harm Reform And Set Back Human Rights

Contact: John M. Miller, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN),
+1-718-596-7668; 917-690-4391,

February 27 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today urged the Obama administration not to offer increased military assistance to Indonesia.

"U.S. military assistance harms reform and sets back human rights accountability in Indonesia," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN.

Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee this week (video), Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talked about expanded cooperation with the Indonesian military, including in the area of counter-terrorism. The Obama administration is currently considering offering resumed cooperation with Indonesia's Kopassus notorious special forces when the President visits the country next month.

The best way to prevent future violations is to hold accountable those responsible for the multitude of human rights crimes committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor (Timor-Leste), West Papua, and elsewhere. Many of these crimes occurred while the U.S. was most deeply engaged with the Indonesian military providing the bulk of its weapons and training.

Clinton said while seeking to expand security cooperation "We are looking at ensuring... there is no resumption of any human rights abuses or other kinds of behavior that we deplore."

"Clinton's remarks imply that Indonesian military human rights violations are a thing of the past. They aren't," said Miller.

"The best way to prevent future violations is to hold accountable those responsible for the multitude of human rights crimes committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor (Timor-Leste), West Papua, and elsewhere. Many of these crimes occurred while the U.S. was most deeply engaged with the Indonesian military providing the bulk of its weapons and training," he added.

"While Indonesia has made progress in many areas since the fall of Suharto, reform of the military has stalled. The shedding of military businesses has become a farce. And the military continues to resist efforts to bring soldiers and former soldiers into court for rights violations," said Miller

"Restrictions on military assistance provide important leverage to encourage accountability and reform," he added.

Secretary of State Clinton also spoke about Indonesia's successful counter-terrorism efforts. In Indonesia, the police have the major role in this area. "U.S. support for greater Indonesian military involvement will only undercut the police, strengthen the military internal, territorial role and further undermine reform," he said.

"Working with the military on counter-terrorism means working with Kopassus," said Miller.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta in 2009.

For many years, the U.S. Congress conditioned military assistance to Indonesia on reform, respect for human rights and real accountability. In 2005, when the Bush administration waived those restrictions, it pledged to "carefully calibrate" any security assistance to promote reform and human rights. Neither the Bush administration nor its successor have published any such plan.

At a recent UN Security Council meeting on Timor-Leste, the U.S. representative said that "We are, however, concerned about the need to address impunity.... We also encourage Timor-Leste to support the recommendations of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation." One recommendation ofCommission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) calls on States [to] regulate military sales and cooperation with Indonesia more effectively and make such support totally conditional on progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights, including respect for the right of self-determination.

ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for occupied East Timor. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information, see ETAN's web site:


see also

UNFPA and the Ministry of Health revise UNTL Midwifery School curriculum

Dili - The Ministry of Health, the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) and UNFPA conducted the training workshop on curriculum revision of the Midwifery School, held on 18 February at the Health Sciences Institute. The objective of the event, which counted with the participation of midwifery school students and teachers, was to review the Three-Year Diploma curriculum in order to adapt it to the situation of Timor-Leste. During the opening ceremony, UNFPA also handed-over equipments that will support the Midwifery School to strengthen the operational and administration, as well as the learning activities of this academic program, established in October 2008. “UNFPA continues its commitment to support the government of Timor-Leste particularly in strengthening the human resources and capacity building of existing health staff by strengthening the Midwifery School to produce qualified midwives as a way to help address the problem of high Maternal Mortality in the country”, said Mr. Pornchai Suchitta, UNFPA Country Representative, during his intervention at the event. The special invitees included Mr. Pornchai Suchitta, Sr. Agapito Da Silva, the General Director of the Ministry of Health and Mr. Diamantino de Jesus, Dean of the Faculty of Health Science. For more information please contact: Mariano Redondo,, 7346517

How East Timor became Timor-Leste

A country's agonising birth

Feb 25th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

 Ready to die for freedom

“If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor. By Geoffrey Robinson. Princeton University Press; 317 pages; $35 and £24.95. Buy from,

FEW countries have suffered as much, merely to be counted as countries, as did Timor-Leste, the former Indonesian province of East Timor. Under the Indonesian occupation from 1975 to 1999, perhaps one-third of the population died before their time. Survivors suffered hunger, deprivation, torture and systematic terror. Against the odds, on August 30th 1999 the East Timorese found themselves with the chance of a vote to choose between independence or autonomy under Indonesian rule. Turnout was 98.6%. Of those, four in five voted for independence.

The author of this fine book, Geoffrey Robinson, was there that day, as a member of the United Nations mission that organised the poll. Before that, as an academic and human-rights researcher, he was one of a small doughty band of foreigners who helped keep East Timor alive as an international issue, at a time when most governments preferred to cultivate good ties with Suharto, Indonesia’s dictator.

Mr Robinson was also there in the nightmarish aftermath of the referendum: as Indonesian-sponsored militias trashed the country, hundreds died and terrified refugees took shelter in the UN compound in Dili. That period provides the book’s title. “If you leave us here, we will die,” was what a Timorese woman in the compound told a visiting UN delegation.

But in fact the title sells both East Timor and the book seriously short. That a second genocide was averted in the country should not conceal the ugly truth that the outside world ignored and connived at the first, in the terrible years after Indonesia’s invasion. And the title misrepresents the book because, though enlivened by the narrative of Mr Robinson’s own time as a participant in and eyewitness to the events described, it is also a subtle and nuanced work of history and analysis.

It contrasts the way the world looked the other way in 1975 with the swift intervention by an Australian-led peacekeeping force in 1999. That was in part a consequence of press attention, the courage of the East Timorese and a unique, brief period in history when “liberal interventionism” seemed to have a future. It also owed something to a collective sense of guilt over past atrocities in Srebrenica, Rwanda and East Timor itself.

As for Indonesia, the behaviour of its soldiers and their local allies was sadly not an aberration. The outcome was predictable as soon as the flawed UN mandate put the security for the referendum in the hands of the main threat to it: the Indonesian army. Mr Robinson traces the violence back to the Suharto regime’s original sin, the massacre of hundreds of thousands as it took power in 1965-66.

The strategies of violence, he notes, were “implicitly legitimised”, not just because of the state’s involvement, but because the criminals were never punished. Ten years on not a single Indonesian official has been convicted of any crime in East Timor, and the idea of an international tribunal has been, in effect, ditched.

Timor sends 750 thousand U.S. dollars (556 thousand euros) to Madeira

Timor envia 750 mil dólares para a Madeira


Conselho de Ministros de Timor-Leste aprovou um auxílio às vítimas da Madeira, no montante de 750 mil dólares (556 mil euros), em solidariedade com o arquipélago.

"Na sequência das inundações que atingiram a Região Autónoma da Madeira, provocando dezenas de mortos e avultados prejuízos, o Conselho de Ministros, em acto de solidariedade e apoio para com o povo e autoridades daquele arquipélago português, aprovou a atribuição de ajuda financeira no valor de 750 mil dólares norte-americanos, para ajudar a colmatar os estragos e perdas sofridas com as fortes chuvadas que assolaram a região", refere, em comunicado, a Secretaria de Estado do Conselho de Ministros.

Logo a seguir à tragédia, também o presidente da República de Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, enviou ao homólogo português, Cavaco Silva, condolências pelos mortos causados pela tempestade que assolou a ilha da Madeira e lamentou o elevado número de pessoas feridas e a grande destruição verificada.

De acordo com as últimas estimativas das autoridades madeirenses, há 42 mortos, 39 dos quais deram entrada na morgue, 29 desaparecidos e 600 desalojados.


  • Timornewsline

    UN Expected TL to value democracy and rule of law

    Timor Post , 26 February 2010- Summary by Alberico Junior
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expected Timor-Leste to respect the principle of democracy and rule of law in the process of its state and nation building.
  • Seven people imprisoned for Ninja

    Timor Post , 26 February 2010- Summary by Alberico Junior
    PNTL Commissioner Longinhos Monteiro said that seven people have been imprisoned due to their criminal offences such as killing and sexual assault.
  • Govt’s Strategic Policies Against Corruption Cast Public Doubt

    Timor Post , 26 February 2010- Summary by Alberico Junior
    The strategic policies to fight against corruption proposed by the Second Vice-PM Mário Viegas Carrascalão had been approved by the Council of Ministers.

Social Democratic Party calls for investigation into 2006 crisis

Timor Post , 24 February 2010- Summary by Alberico Junior
The Social Democratic Party has called for the creation of an independent commission to investigate the crisis of 2006 in order to work out who was behind the instability.

Report of the United Nations
Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste, 2 October 2006

Summary of the report:

Hunt for the truth - East Timor
April 21, 2008
"... April 2008 The recent failed assassination of President Ramos-Horta is shrouded in mystery. Killed that same day outside Horta's home was rebel leader Alfredo Reinado."

Alzajeera 101 News Report:
"...Alfredo Reinado and the bloody game of East Timorese politics"

Downfall of a PM - East Timor
- journeymanpictures
September 21, 2007

Four Days in Dili - East Timor
"June 2006 Days before foreign peacekeepers arrived, journalist David O'Shea travelled to East Timor to chronicle its descent into chaos."

A quick review of the East Timor situation (2006) and testimonies by the local Timorese.

Alkatiri's Enemies
"Oct 2003 Despite facing growing domestic criticism, Timor's Prime Minister is determined not to resort to expensive international loans. Produced by SBS/Dateline Distributed by Journeyman Pictures"

Are We Really East Timor's Heroes?

Why do Australians cling to the belief that we have protected East Timor? Clinton Fernandes examines the first Australian intervention in what was then Portuguese Timor

Australia conducted two military interventions in East Timor during the 20th century and both have been falsely reconstructed into myths that vary sharply from the historical record. Our intervention in September 1999 against a rampaging Indonesian military has since been painted as a remarkable example of the Australian government exercising its so-called "responsibility to protect" the people of East Timor. In truth, the Howard government worked assiduously to prevent international intervention in East Timor until the bitter end.

But an earlier intervention by Australian forces has also gone down in history as a gallant effort when in fact it was anything but. When Australian forces landed in what was then known as Portuguese Timor in December 1941 it is widely assumed to have been in order to expel Japanese forces from the territory. In fact, Japan had no forces in Portuguese Timor, as Australian policy-makers knew at the time.

What is more, Japan had no intention of deploying forces to Portuguese Timor, which was a colony of Portugal — a neutral power during World War II. In its march through Asia, Japan had refrained from violating this neutrality in the other Portuguese colony of Macau. It was only after Australian, Dutch and British troops had deployed to Portuguese Timor, and violated Portuguese neutrality, that Japan decided to send its own forces there.

Australia had not shown any serious interest in Portuguese Timor before World War II. Very few successful Australian businesses had been established there, and trade links were almost non-existent. There had been a suggestion during World War I that Australia should take possession of the colony as a summer holiday location for northern Australians but in the decades that followed, Portuguese Timor did not feature much in the consciousness of Australian policy-makers — except on those occasions when rumours circulated that one foreign power or another was contemplating buying it from the Portuguese.

After the outbreak of World War II, Australian authorities became concerned that some Japanese businesses had been established in Portuguese Timor, which might well be used as a pretext for military intervention in the territory. However, although Japan had framed its rhetoric in anti-colonial terms, it had no intention of deploying forces to the territory.

The Australian Government, on the other hand, was interested in establishing a presence there.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, British authorities requested that Australia send troops to Portuguese Timor, claiming that Portugal had agreed to the plan.

The Australian government had very limited resources at the time but nonetheless agreed to Britain’s request, while emphasising the importance of the Portuguese government publicly approving the mission. Once assured by Britain that all arrangements were in place, Australia ordered forces to land in Portuguese Timor, despite the fact that the Portuguese authorities had not given their approval.

While Australian forces were in the process of deploying, the Portuguese government expressed its public hostility to the operation. Suddenly concerned about the diplomatic blowback of the mission, British officials requested that the Australians not mention that Britain was in any way associated with the operation — even though the plan was primarily a British one. Although annoyed at being placed in this difficult position, the Australians complied.

The British government then proceeded to express its regret to Portugal about the action of "Allied military authorities on the spot", implying that it was not involved and that the entire operation was the result of decisions made by lower-level tactical commanders from Australia and the Netherlands.

On 12 December 1941, the Australian prime minister, John Curtin, received a cable from Lord Cranborne, Britain’s secretary of state for dominion affairs.

Cranborne advised Curtin that the Dutch had agreed to participate in an attack on Japanese forces in Portuguese Timor. He stated that the governor of the territory was being advised by his government in Portugal to "facilitate the task of the Dutch and Australian forces" that would be landing in Portuguese Timor.

The next day, Cranborne informed Curtin that the Portuguese government had agreed to accept assistance "in the event of a Japanese attack" against Portuguese Timor. He advised that the British had informed the Portuguese that Allied forces in the region "should be given wide latitude" because "the Japanese might act at any moment".

The obvious problem, of course, was that there had not been any Japanese attack against Portuguese Timor, nor was there any evidence of Japan’s intention to mount any such attack. It was hardly likely that the governor of Portuguese Timor, M. de A. Ferreira de Carvalho, would be agreeable to the intrusion of Allied troops when the Japanese had thus far been so scrupulous in respecting Portuguese neutrality.

Despite this, the Australian government advised Cranborne that there was to be a "consultation" with Ferreira de Carvalho at 7.00am on 17 December, two hours after which "a combined force of Dutch and Australians" travelling by sea would land in Dili.

This "consultation" was, of course, merely to provide the façade of having obtained Portuguese consent.

Conscious that such a meeting would no doubt be recognised as no more than a perfunctory gesture, Cranborne replied that "if possible a rather longer interval should be allowed to elapse between the time when the Conference at Dili begins and the time when the combined force arrives". The Australian government agreed and informed the relevant parties.

Immediately after, however, Cranborne informed Curtin that the reaction of Portugal’s secretary-general to the operation had been "violently unfavourable". Cranborne urgently requested Curtin to ensure that Australian forces made every effort to reach agreement with Portuguese Timor before any landing was attempted. However, when the Dutch and Australian commanders met the governor of Portuguese Timor, he advised them in writing of his opposition to any landing of foreign troops:

"In reply to the communiqué which you gentlemen handed me at 9.20 am today, requesting me to accept the help of the Australian and Dutch forces, which will be directed immediately to the territory of this colony, I have the honour to inform you that, in accordance with the instructions from my Government in Portugal, I cannot accept this help, because the position with regard to the conflict is one of strict neutrality, and because no aggression of any sort has taken place in our territory, the last-mentioned being the sole condition under which the Government of Portugal could accept the help of Australian and Dutch forces for the Defence of the Colony. … Under these circumstances every disembarkation of forces will be considered as a breach of the neutrality of our territory."

The landing, however, went ahead. Ferreira de Carvalho cabled Curtin in similarly unambiguous terms:

"The Governor of the colony of Portuguese Timor protests vigorously against the aggression, absolutely contrary to the principles of law, being carried out against this part of Portuguese territory, by Dutch and Australian forces."

The Australian government attempted to portray its intervention as being necessary to defend Portuguese Timor against "Japanese aggression" and to convince the governor that Australia was only trying to help. But an embarrassed Cranborne had to inform Curtin that the Portuguese government "would in no circumstance consent to Allied troops entering the territory unless and until the enemy attack had actually been made". Cranborne apologised to the Portuguese for the Allies’ actions, implying that commanders from Australia and the Netherlands had acted hastily. The Dutch too provided Portugal with an official statement of regret, arguing that the landings were necessary "in view of the Japanese submarine activity off Portuguese Timor".

An angry John Curtin agreed with the standing British request to maintain silence as far as British involvement in the affair was concerned, but laid out the entire sequence of events in a detailed cable to Lord Cranborne in order to ensure that the historical record was preserved.

On the ground, a combined force of 155 Australian and 260 Dutch troops had landed near Dili on 17 December 1941 but, as Curtin informed Cranborne, "the position is most unsatisfactory" because the Governor of Portuguese Timor, far from going along with the charade, was in fact "organising troops to harass our troops and will certainly assist in any Japanese landing".

Australia’s view, as expressed by Curtin, was that "Portugal should have been frankly informed at the beginning that in your opinion the occupation was based upon military necessity and that Japanese infiltration or invasion could not otherwise be prevented".

The facts of history are clear — even though the myth persists that Australia sent troops to Portuguese Timor in order to expel Japanese forces. The persistence of this myth may be attributed to a combination of ignorance, innocence, a benevolent national self-image, and subsequent portrayals of Australian troops fighting heroically alongside the people of East Timor against the Japanese when they did, in fact, eventually land on 19 February 1942. For the people of East Timor, the costs of this ensuing conflict were severe, with 40,000 to 60,000 people dying as a result.

The people of East Timor never received war reparations for their suffering in this conflict from either Japan, whose forces caused such devastation, or from the Allies, whose actions drew the Japanese to Timor in the first place.

This is an edited extract from Zombie Myths of Australian Military History: 10 Myths That Will Not Die, edited by Craig Stockings (New South Books: 2010)


Presidente RDTL Jose Ramos Sei Hatudu Nian Kanek Hosi 11 Fevereiru 2008

PR sei Hatudu nia Kanek.mp4