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Happy Independence Day to the People and Government of the United States of America on July 4, 2003


East Timor National Alliance for an International Tribunal

(Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor, Arte Moris, FOKUPERS, FORTILOS, GFFTL, GMPD, JSMP, Konsellu Solidaridade Estudante Timor Lorosae, KSI La’o Hamutuk, LBH Ukun Rasik An, LIFSLIPO, NGO Forum Timor Lorosae, Oxfam Australia, Perkumpulan HAK, Sahe Institute)

(Click a thumbnail to see full-size image)
 Translation: Victims 1975-1999 - Ask the Government of America to support the creation of an international tribunal. Congratulations 227 (years since 4 July 1776) Translation: Stop war in the entire world. Create an international tribunal to judge the USA government.

Allow us, East Timor civil society organisations that form the East Timor National Alliance for an International Tribunal, to congratulate the United States on your 227th Independence Day. We celebrate this day to remember the freedom that the United States gained from colonialism, a colonialism that so restricted the freedom of its people. After attaining independence, the United States developed to become a great nation that is well known throughout the world, because of its long-standing commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights.

On this historic day, we would like to remind everyone that there are actions of the United States government that violate the same principles that are so highly regarded by the people of the United States.

We, as members of East Timor society, witnessed and experienced the Indonesian military invasion and occupation that stole our freedom, and our right to life as human beings and as a nation. The United States government supported the invasion and supplied weapons and military training to the Indonesian military, as well as gave economic support to the Indonesian government that was occupying East Timor.

At the time of the 1999 referendum, the attitude of the United States changed, to supporting East Timor’s independence. The U.S. gave much aid and support in preparation for independence, and for development. However, the United States has not demonstrated its support to achieve justice for the crimes that we experienced in 1999, as well as throughout the Indonesian military occupation, even though those crimes clearly violated international law. We emphasize that justice is an essential basis for democracy and the development of a nation.

The United States government is still providing support to the Indonesian military (TNI), which continues to perpetrate serious human rights abuses. Those officers that were involved in the serious crimes that destroyed East Timor in 1999 are still officers; many have even been promoted since then. Military operations that are rife with human rights abuses continue, as does the Indonesian military structure that allows for military interference in civil affairs.

Today, the TNI is perpetrating violence against civilians in Aceh and West Papua. In those two regions, extra-judicial killing, arbitary arrest and butchering occur often. Terror tactics perpetrated by the military are also widespread, to the extent that many people have been forced to flee. However, the United States government continues to do exactly the opposite of what the American people themselves believe, that is that freedom and democracy and human rights must be upheld everywhere at all times. The United States government would like to restore its military cooperation with TNI.

As a nation that has experienced invasion and occupation, we were saddened by the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Against the will of the whole world, and ignoring the United Nations, the United States launched an invasion in order to overthrow the Iraqi government. The American invasion of Iraq represents a clear violation of international law, because it is illegal aggression toward another nation. This is made even clear when we look at the reason given for the invasion -- that Iraq manufactures and possesses weapons of mass destruction -- since we can see now that that accusation is in doubt. The goal of freeing Iraq from a force that prohibits freedom and violates human rights cannot be done with actions that in themselves violate freedom and human rights.

On this happy day, allow us to convey our congratulations by also encouraging the United States government, and the United States people, to return to the basic values the United States upholds by:

Dili, 4 July 2003