US Has Not Ignored Violence in East Timor

Article excerpt

As someone who visited East Timor in 1989 and was horrified at the repressive atmosphere there, I was pleased to see the Opinion page article "Throwing Light on Timor," Jan. 10, which focuses on American response to the Nov. 12 massacre at the Santa Cruz cemetery. However, the writer is apparently unaware of a number of facts.

While the situation has not received the notice it deserves, there has been much more media attention devoted to it than the article implies. The CBS Evening News, for example, devoted a segment to East Timor on Nov. 21 - a graphic report that helped spark bipartisan outrage and action in Congress. There have been multiple editorials and opinion articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and elsewhere, and other coverage of Indonesia's human rights abuses in East Timor.

In addition, there has been considerable congressional activity beyond that of the excellent work of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Separate resolutions were passed by the House and Senate before Congress adjourned in late November. A letter by Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R) of Wyoming, signed by 52 United States senators on Nov. 25, called for the Bush administration to take a strong stand on human rights as well as for East Timor's right to self-determination.

Congress is now poised to take further action on this tragedy, which runs far deeper than the events of Nov. 12: The atmosphere of terror is reported to be worse now than at any time since Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. …