WASHINGTON (September 30, 1999) -- The chairmen of the Catholic Bishops' committees for International Policy and for Migration have urged continued pressure by the international community on the government of Indonesia to implement all possible measures to discipline lawless elements and protect the East Timorese, wherever they are located.
"The immediate safety of East Timorese driven from their homes, with the eventual goal of their safe return, should be a priority for the international community," the bishops said. "The United States must take a leadership role in working with the Indonesian government to achieve these objectives in a timely manner."
The Statement on the Protection of East Timorese was issued (September 30) by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, Chairman, U.S. Bishops' International Policy Committee, and Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio, Chairman, U.S. Bishops' Committee on Migration.
Archbishop McCarrick and Bishop DiMarzio noted that while the arrival of the first contingents of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) has prompted the departure of many militia members responsible for the violence, the terror visited upon the people of East Timor has yet to end completely.
"In East Timor, thousands of persons remain in hiding and are afraid to return to their homes, while elsewhere in Indonesia a significant number of East Timorese are in dire need of protection," the bishops said. "Reportedly, 200,000 displaced persons in camps in West Timor and nearby islands remain subject to the brutality and control of militia elements."
"The international community must wait no longer to bring to bear on this intolerable situation its full measure of concern, using humanitarian, financial, and judicial institutions to right the wrongs which have occurred," the bishops stated. "We call on all nations, including first and foremost Indonesia, to begin to redress the injustices against the East Timorese people and to protect their right to reclaim their homeland."
Full text of the Statement on the Protection of the East Timorese, with the actions recommended by U.S. Catholic Bishops.