Rep. Capuano Condemns Violence in East Timor

September 9, 1999 -- U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano (D, MA) today condemned the post-referendum violence in East Timor and called for sanctions against Indonesia if the massacres continue. In a resolution to be submitted to the House, Rep. Capuano called on the Indonesian government to live up to its agreement to honor the results of the August 30th balloting and to end human rights abuses.

"A full 98% of those registered came out to vote on August 30th in East Timor and an overwhelming majority chose independence. The Indonesian government must accept these results and work diligently to end to the violence in East Timor. It promised to do so in May in agreements signed with Portugal and the United Nations. If this does not happen, then I urge the United Nations Security Council to authorize member states to protect the people of East Timor," Rep. Capuano stated.

Since 1975, when the newly independent Portuguese colony of East Timor was invaded by Indonesia, East Timorese pro-independence groups have been brutally repressed by the Indonesian military. More recently, military-backed paramilitary units have engaged in kidnapping, torture and murder. Over 200,000 East Timorese have perished in violent conflicts. In May of 1999, Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations agreed to hold a secret ballot so that the East Timorese people would have an opportunity to vote either for a special autonomous status within the Republic of Indonesia or for independence from Indonesia. On August 30, 1999 this balloting took place and East Timorese overwhelmingly chose independence by 78.5 %. In defiance of these results, paramilitary units have conducted a campaign of violence and terror against the East Timorese people while the Indonesian government has done little to prevent this. Rep. Capuano's resolution:

  • Calls for President Clinton to suspend all remaining military assistance to Indonesia until the paramilitaries are controlled;
  • Calls upon the President, international organizations, the World Bank and the IMF to condition all future aid to Indonesia, except humanitarian aid, upon the ability and willingness of the Government of Indonesia to control paramilitary and militia forces and to restore order and respect for human rights in East Timor;
  • Encourages increased U.S. support for an expanded UN mandate, and significantly more personnel, leading toward UN assumption of responsibility for administration and security in East Timor;
  • Further calls upon the United Nations Security Council, should it determine that the government of Indonesia is unwilling or unable to maintain order in East Timor, to authorize member states to protect human life and human rights in East Timor refugees. The following House members also signed onto Rep. Capuano's resolution: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Rod Blagojevich (D-IL); Joseph Crowley (D-NY); William Delahunt (D-MA); Anna Eshoo (D-CA); Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS); Tony Hall (D-OH); Patrick Kennedy (D-RI); Peter King (R-NY); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Nita Lowey (D-NY); Bill Luther (D-MN); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Jim McGovern (D-MA); Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC); John Olver (D-MA); Donald Payne (D-NJ); Janice Schakowsky (D-IL); Robert Wexler (D-FL); Frank Wolf (R-VA)