Urge Congress to Support Democracy & Peace in Timor


The UN Security Council will soon debate the nature of the next UN mission for Timor-Leste (East Timor). Amidst violence and political turmoil, East Timor’s prime minister has resigned. Dozens have been killed, houses have been burned or looted across the city, and most of the capital’s population has fled their homes. The reasons for this instability are many and complex, but UN involvement remains crucial. The U.S. must support a robust UN mission to enable the new nation to achieve peace with justice and economic prosperity.

 

Both ETAN and the Timorese government have consistently advocated for more effective UN activities. The U.S. government, however, has repeatedly pushed the UN to rapidly reduce its presence since 2002. U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton recently stated his belief in this unwise approach. But several Representatives are pushing Ambassador Bolton and Secretary of State Rice to support a robust UN mission. Urge your Representative to sign their letter.

 

What YOU Can Do:

 

Contact your Representative and tell her/him to:

 

**Sign the bipartisan Dear Colleague letter to Secretary of State Rice urging her to support a robust United Nations mission to East Timor. The letter is being circulated by Representatives Allyson Schwartz and Patrick Kennedy.

 

** East Timor’s potential to succeed remains strong, but the recent violence is an indication that the UN must continue to play a critical nation-building role.

 

The deadline for the letter is July 7. To sign the letter, offices should contact Aaron Brand in Rep. Schwartz’s office or Dominic Nguyen in Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s office.

 

Co-signers so far include: Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-CA).

 

Phone calls and faxes are generally more effective than emails. The congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121 (ask for the office of your Representative), or check <http://www.congress.org>http://www.congress.org on the internet for direct phone, fax or e-mail contact information. Every call makes a difference, so please contact your Representative today!

 

A copy of the letter follows.

 

Thanks for your support. Please let us know the results of your efforts. Send updates to etan@etan.org.

 

 

 

Support Democracy and Stability in East Timor

 

Urge Secretary Rice to support a U.N. Mission to East Timor

 

Deadline:  COB Friday, July 7

Dear Colleague:

 

After months of violence, last week, the United Nations Security Council voted to renew its political mission in East Timor, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has indicated that the return of peacekeeping forces is under consideration.  Please join us in writing to Secretary of State Rice urging her to support a robust United Nations mission to East Timor.

 

Just months ago, East Timor was viewed as a model for international nation-building; however, today, the progress East Timor has made as a young and vibrant democracy is under serious threat.  The United Nations played an instrumental role in the nation’s early stages — providing peacekeeping, humanitarian, and reconstruction assistance, and capacity building.   However, as the United Nations has rapidly scaled back its mission post-independence, serious problems within East Timor’s police and military infrastructure have been exposed.

 

East Timor’s potential as a young democracy and its prospects to succeed remain strong.  However, the recent violence is an indication that the United Nations cannot draw-down its presence precipitously, and that it must continue to play a critical nation-building role.  We believe the United States’ interests in building strong and self-sustaining democracies would be best served by supporting a renewed United Nations commitment to East Timor.

 

We hope you will join us in this effort.  If you have any questions or would like to sign the letter, please contact Aaron Brand in Rep. Schwartz’s office (5-6111 or <mailto:Aaron.Brand@mail.house.gov%29>Aaron.Brand@mail.house.gov) or Dominic Nguyen in Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s office (5-4911 or <mailto:Dominic.Nguyen@mail.house.gov%29>Dominic.Nguyen@mail.house.gov).

 

July xx, 2006

 

The Honorable Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Madam Secretary:

 

        We have been watching the violence that has ensued in East Timor with a great deal of concern.  Just months ago, East Timor was viewed as a model for international nation-building.  However, today, the progress East Timor has made as a young democracy is under serious threat.  The United Nations Security Council recently voted to renew its political mission in East Timor, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has indicated that the return of peacekeeping forces is under consideration.  At this crucial juncture, we urge you to support a robust United Nations mission that includes a significant police and peacekeeping presence — with all foreign troops under UN command — to ensure that East Timor continues to make progress on the path to democracy, stability, and self-sustainability.  The East Timorese government has requested such a robust mission.

 

As you know, following East Timor’s vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999, militias backed by elements of the Indonesian military ravaged the country.  Yet East Timor — with significant support from the United Nations and international community — was able to restore order and has made substantial strides toward stability and democracy as evidenced by a United Nations report stating that East Timor has “made remarkable progress in laying the foundations for a functioning civil society.”  Additionally, an agreement with the Australian government on shared revenues from offshore oil and gas fields is beginning to provide critical funds to the government and in February 2006 members of the U.S. House of Representatives Democracy Assistance Commission visited East Timor to provide advice on structuring an accountable and transparent government.

 

However, much work remains and as the United Nations has rapidly scaled back its mission post-independence, serious problems within East Timor’s police and military infrastructure have been exposed.  The recent violence is an indication that the United Nations cannot draw-down its presence precipitously, and that it must continue to play a critical nation-building role — assisting East Timor with its efforts to consolidate and expand on the gains it has made.  Therefore, we respectfully request that U.N. Ambassador Bolton strongly support a United Nations mission to help maintain order and provide support at least through next year’s crucial parliamentary and presidential elections.  This mission should focus on enhanced police assistance and training to prevent violence.  Additionally, a United Nations mission should help East Timor address the deeply-rooted poverty and unemployment that plagues the nation; build strong public institutions that will ensure a stable and lasting democracy and promote rule of law; bring justice and reconciliation for crimes against humanity committed during the Indonesian military occupation; and investigate the recent criminal violence.

 

Supporting the development of strong and self-sustaining democracies throughout the world is a vital component of U.S. foreign policy.  In this case, this goal would be best advanced by supporting a robust United Nations mission working in cooperation with a sovereign East Timorese government.  We thank you for your attention and we look forward to working with you on this matter.

Sincerely,

cc:  Ambassador John R. Bolton

 

 

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