News Release

Election Context in East Timor

Indonesian-backed forces have increased their violence in recent days as Monday’s UN-organized referendum on self-determination approaches. In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor with tacit U.S. backing. In the 24 years since, 200,000 people have died, a third of the population. Interviews are available with the following analysts:

LYNN FREDRIKSSON
Washington representative of the East Timor Action Network, Fredriksson said: “Few doubt that the vast majority in East Timor will opt for independence if the vote is free. But just days before the long-awaited referendum, the people of East Timor face escalating paramilitary threats, intimidation and outright terrorist attacks. The human rights community is calling on President Clinton to personally demand that the Indonesian-backed violence stop, but he has not yet done so.” Fredriksson can arrange interviews with Timorese leader Jose Ramos-Horta, the co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, as well as Dr. Dan Murphy, a physician from Iowa who spent the past nine months in East Timor treating hundreds of internally displaced people and scores of victims of recent paramilitary attacks. He survived a July 4 attack on a UN convoy. Two weeks ago Dr. Murphy was forced to leave East Timor.
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CONSTANCIO PINTO
Author of East Timor’s Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance, Pinto is the National Council of Timorese Resistance’s representative to the UN and North America. He is a survivor of arrest and torture at the hands of the Indonesian military.

AMY GOODMAN
Goodman won numerous awards for her documentary “Massacre: The Story of East Timor,” which chronicles the Indonesian genocide against the East Timorese and the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of 250 civilians (which Goodman survived). In the last few days, Goodman, the host of Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now!” program, was twice expelled from Indonesia because her name appears on an Indonesian army blacklist of more than 1,000 names. She said: “The Indonesian regime should stop the violence — not the reporters trying to cover it. Indonesian president B.J. Habibie talks about reforming Indonesia since the Suharto regime, but the Indonesian-backed death squads raging through East Timor and the enforcement of the blacklist confirm that the military’s power remains unbroken.”
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JOE NEVINS, [in Dili, East Timor]
Nevins is a UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor.

MARK SALZER
A public school teacher, Salzer just returned from East Timor as a UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167