STATEMENT OF THE
HONORABLE ENI F. H. FALEOMAVAEGA
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I have entitled my remarks tonight to my colleagues and to my fellow Americans as Indonesia's Shameful Military Occupation of East Timor and West Papua New Guinea, which is also known as Irian Jaya.
Mr. Speaker, this week the House of Representatives considered legislation, House Resolution 292, expressing its position with regards to the tragic crisis in East Timor, Indonesia.
I would further deeply commend the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), for introducing the resolution and their considerable work on it. I am honored to be an original cosponsor of House Resolution 292.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to commend the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy) for introducing H.R. 2895, a bill that will cut off U.S. support for bilateral and multilateral aid to Indonesia if the Indonesian government fails to implement and support the United Nation's supervised plebiscite, which resulted in a vote of over 78 percent of the voters of East Timor in favor of total independence from the government of Indonesia.
The bill of the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Kennedy) has strong bipartisan support by both Republicans and Democrats, and I am honored to have also been an original cosponsor of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, like many of our colleagues, I am greatly disturbed and saddened by the brutal, violent response of the pro-Jakarta militia and Indonesian military to the overwhelming force for independence demonstrated by the courageous people of East Timor. However, I am not at all surprised at the rampant killings, Mr. Speaker, as the Indonesian military has routinely used violence as a tool of repression.
Although the Timorese struggle for self-determination has received much publicity, Mr. Speaker, scant attention has been paid to the people of West Papua New Guinea who have similarly struggled to throw off the yoke of Indonesian colonialism.
As in East Timor, Indonesia took West Papua New Guinea by force in 1963. In a truly pathetic episode, the United Nations in 1969 sanctioned a fraudulent referen- dum where only 1,025 delegates that were handpicked and paid off by the Jakarta government were permitted to participate in a so-called independence vote. The rest of the West Papua New Guinea people, well over 800,000 strong, Mr. Speaker, had absolutely no voice in the undemocratic process.
Since Indonesia subjugated West Papua New Guinea, the native Papuan people have suffered under one of the most repressive and unjust systems of colonial occupation in the 20th century. Like in East Timor where 200,000 East Timorese have died, the Indonesian military has been brutal in West Papua New Guinea. Reports estimate that between 100,000 to 200,000 West Papuans have died or simply vanished at the hands of the Indonesian military.
I would urge our colleagues and our great Nation and the international community to revisit the status of West Papua New Guinea to ensure that justice is also achieved there.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the events of the past weeks, the Indonesian government should be condemned in the strongest terms for allowing untold atrocities to be committed against the innocent, unarmed civilians of East Timor. I commend President Clinton for terminating all assistance to and ties with the Indonesian military. The United Nations estimates that over 300,000 Timorese, in excess of a third of the population of East Timor, have been displaced and it remains to be seen how many hundreds, if not thousands, have been killed in the mass bloodletting and carnage by the Indonesian military and its militia.
Mr. Speaker, a couple of days ago, the United Nations Human Rights Commis- sion voted for an international inquiry into the atrocities committed in East Timor. The call for an international war crimes tribunal to punish those responsible for the atrocities should be heeded, even if it implicates the top military leadership of Jakarta.
I strongly supported the intervention of the United Nations-endorsed multina- tional force in East Timor, and I am heartened at their arrival in Dili last week. Although only 5,000 of the 7,500 troop peacekeeping is presently there in East Timor, they have already had a significant effect in stabilizing the situation and restoring order in Dili.
Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the government of Australia for its leadership with the multinational force and recognize the important and substantial troop contributions of Thailand to the peacekeeping effort.
While I believe America's role in the peacekeeping mission should have been greater, certainly the contribution of the U.S. airlift and logistical support has been invaluable. If Australia, Thailand and our allies call upon us and it is necessary that the United States play a more substantial role in the peacekeeping effort, I submit, Mr. Speaker -- even if it means the contribution of a small contingent of ground troops which could easily be drawn from our reserves of U.S. Marines in Okinawa -- we should not shirk our duty. After all, Mr. Speaker, is this not the very reason why we have troops located in the Asia-Pacific region, and that is to provide stability and order in that part of the world?
Mr. Speaker, with Indonesia being the fourth largest nation and the largest Muslim country in the world, which sits astride the major sea-lanes of communi- cations and trade, certainly we do have a substantial national interest in preserving stability in Indonesia and Southeast Asia as well.
Mr. Speaker, I am honored to join my colleagues in adoption of legislation that touches on all of the foregoing concerns. It is appropriate that the House finally speak as a body in addressing the tremendous evil perpetrated against the free citizens of East Timor by the Indonesian military.
Mr. Speaker, we and our colleagues must do all we can to assist the recovery of the Timorese people and to support their struggle for freedom, economic self-sufficiency and democracy.
Mr. Speaker, if I may borrow the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said in part, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts them."
As a nation and as a world we have watched as East Timor and West Papua New Guinea have struggled for indepen- dence and self-determination. As a government, we have known the ambiguities of colonialist history. Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, was granted independence by the Netherlands in 1949. In its own act of colonial aggression, Indonesia then demanded all former territories of the Dutch East Indies and the Portuguese colonial empire, including West Papua New Guinea and East Timor. When Indonesia's demands were not met, the Indonesian military troops slaughtered and murdered over 100,000 West Papua New Guineans and also slaughtered and murdered over 200,000 East Timorese. The world stood in silence while the slaughter continued.
Mr. Speaker, we have known the 'isness' and the 'oughtness' of what now confronts our collective conscience. Like Conrad notes in the book, the Heart of Darkness and I quote, "The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much."
Mr. Speaker, "when you look into it too much," the world ought to be a better place than what it is.
Mr. Speaker, I know much has been written and said about what now confronts us in the conflict of East Timor. As Mahatma Ghandi once said, and I quote, "I have nothing new to say. The principles of truth and nonviolence are as old as mountains."
Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, it serves us well to be reminded of the principles of goodness espoused by those who have lived the struggle and overcome. So today, I speak not as a representative with something new to say, but as a human being who wants to associate himself with a brotherhood and sisterhood of good."
To the people of East Timor who seek to be free, I add my voice of support and condemn the government of Indonesia for denying East Timor its inalienable right to self-determination. To the good people of West Papua New Guinea, who also seek to be free from Indonesian colonial rule, I rise to share some 36 years of your pain and your suffering and of the slaughter and the murdering of your people by the Indonesian military.
Mr. Speaker, there is consensus that the island of New Guinea was settled by a people from West Africa. In 1883, the island of New Guinea came under colonial rule and was partitioned by three western powers. The Dutch claimed the western half while the British and the Germans divided the eastern half.
In 1949, the Dutch granted indepen-dence to the colonies of the former Dutch East Indies, including the Republic of Indonesia, but the Dutch retained West Papua New Guinea and in 1950 sup-posedly prepared the territory for independence. Indonesia, however, under the leadership of military dictator Sukarno sent troops over and militarily occupied West Papua, and to this day West Papua continues to exist under military rule.
Mr. Speaker, in 1962, the United States mediated an agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, minus West Papuan representation, of course. Under terms of the agreement, the Dutch would leave West Papua and transfer sovereignty to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority, known as UNTEA, for a period of 6 years, after which time a national election would be held to determine West Papua's political status. But almost immediately after this agreement was reached, Indonesia violated the terms of the transfer and took over the administration of West Papua from the UNTEA.
In 1969, Indonesia orchestrated an election that many regarded as a brutal military operation. In what came to be known as the "Act of No Choice," 1,025 elders under heavy military surveillance were selected to vote on behalf of 809,327 West Papuans on the territory's political status. United Nations Ambassador Ortiz-Sanz, who was sent to West Papua to observe the process, issued the following statement, and I quote, "I regret to have to express my reservation regarding the implementation of Article XXII of the (New York) Agreement relating to the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly, of the inhabitants of the area. In spite of my constant efforts, this important provision was not fully implemented and the (Indonesian) administration exercised at all times a tight political control over the population."
Mr. Speaker, despite Ambassador Ortiz-Sanz' report, the United Nations sanctioned Indonesia's position and on September 10, 1969, West Papua became a province under Indonesian military rule.
Mr. Speaker, there is some speculation surrounding the extent of U.S. involvement with respect to the West Papua/ Indonesian settlement. In late 1961, a Robert H. Johnson of the National Security Council staff wrote a letter to Mr. Bundy, the President's Special Assistant for National Security Council Affairs, concerning the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands. Mr. Johnson wrote in part, and I quote, "The U.S. has a general interest in eliminating this irritant in international relations involving two free world countries. But its more basic interests are two: (a) to eliminate this issue from Indonesian politics where it has diverted the country from constructive tasks, has been used by Sukarno as a means of frustrating opposition to himself, and has been exploited by the large local Communist Party and by the Soviet Union, and (b) to avoid a military clash ... because such a clash would probably strengthen Communist forces within Indonesia. The loss of Indonesia could be as significant as the loss of mainland Southeast Asia and would make defense of the latter considerably more difficult. If the above analysis is correct, we must conclude that it is in our interests that a solution be devised which will lead to accession of West New Guinea to Indonesia."
Mr. Speaker, in other words, it was our national policy to sacrifice the lives and future of some 800,000 West Papua New Guineans to the Indonesian military in exchange, supposedly, for Sukarno and later Suharto to become our friends, who would organize the most repressive military regimes ever in the history of Indonesia.
Mr. Speaker, this event is perhaps the worst example of action by the United Nations in sanctioning this "Act of No Choice" against the people of West Papua New Guinea. Mr. Speaker, I call upon United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to take appropriate action to correct this shameful act of the United Nations against the people of West Papua. The United Nations should call and supervise a real plebiscite, like the one given to people of East Timor.
Mr. Speaker, in his 1990 statement before the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, Nelson Mandela of South Africa said, "It will forever remain an indelible blight on human history that the apartheid crime ever occurred. Future generations will surely ask, what error was made that this system established itself in the wake of the adoption of a Universal Declaration on Human Rights." Mandela continued, "It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has been before all of us stood up and to say, enough is enough."
Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but feel similarly about our own stance towards West Papua during the height of the Cold War and our continued stance at present. Geo-politics aside, since the Indonesian government seized control of West Papua, the Papuan people have suffered blatant human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions, imprisonment, torture and, according to Afrim Djonbalic's 1998 statement to the United Nations, "environmental degradation, natural resource exploitation, and commercial dominance of immigrant communities."
Sadly, Mr. Speaker, a U.S.-based company mining copper, gold, and silver in West Papua New Guinea allegedly shares in the exploitation and abuse of Papuan lands and its people.
In West Papua New Guinea, Mr. Speaker, Freeport-McMoRan, an American company in partnership with Indonesian leaders and leading Australian and British mining companies, operates the world's largest gold mine and the world's third largest copper mine. Conservative estimates suggest that the copper reserves of Freeport are worth well over $23 billion. The gold reserves are worth around $15 billion. As it currently stands, the Indonesian government has approximately an 8.5 percent share in Freeport mining and Freeport pays Indonesia more money than any other company in the entire country.
Mr. Speaker, from 1969 to 1971, Freeport built a 63-mile road from the southern coast of West Papua to the Ertsberg Mountain, moving 12 million tons of earth. As Forbes Wilson describes it in his book called Conquest of Copper Mountain, AAt one point, we literally had to chop off the top half of a mountain.@ Author James Lang in Irian Jaya case number 157, notes that, in 1967, Freeport signed a contract with the Indonesian government to mine for copper in 10,000 hectares (1 hectare= approximately 2.5 acres), not acres, Mr. Speaker, hectares, of land belonging to the indigenous Amungme tribal people. Yet, when the report was filed in 1996, Mr. Speaker, Freeport's control had extended to over three times as much land and the company had no policy of commitment or royalty distribution to the local community. With the construction of a new city for its employees, Freeport mining company will take an additional 25,000 hectares of land from the Amungme tribe.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, Freeport recently opened a new mine at Grasberg just two kilometers from the Timika site. Resting on 2.6 million hectares, again, Mr. Speaker, not acres, hectares of land acquired from Indonesia in 1991, the new mine will increase its output to 900 million pounds of copper and 1.1 million ounces of gold, making it the world's single biggest mining operation.
In 1977, Mr. Speaker, the Amungme Tribe put in a claim for compensation for their lost land which the Indonesian government promptly and simply rejected. A spokesman for the Free Papua Movement summarized the situation, and I quote, "Since Freeport signed contracts in 1967, it has regarded this land as not belonging to our people . . . the Indonesia Constitution considers it state land and any companies made by the Amungme people (are seen by the company as) terrorist action."
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Robert Bryce, contributing editor for the Austin Chronicle, noted in Mother Jones, in a 1996 article, "Freeport's Grasberg mine is essentially grinding the Indonesian mountain into dust, skimming off the precious metals, and dumping the remainder into the Ajkwa River. The pulverized rock (called `tailings') has created a wasteland in the river valley below. By its own estimates, the company will dump more than 40 million tons of tailings into the river this year alone....The mine's tailings have already `severely impacted' more than 11 square miles of rainforest, according to the 1996 Dames & Moore environmental audit. The report, endorsed by Freeport, also estimates that over the life of the mine some 3.2 billion tons of waste rock, a great part of which generates acid, will be dumped into the local river system."
Bryce concludes, Mr. Speaker, "At present, the company mines 125,000 tons of ore each day. The company intends to increase that amount to 190,000 tons per day. At that rate, Freeport will dump enough tailings in the Ajkwa River to fill Houston's Astrodome every 3 weeks."
Mr. Speaker, from the University of Chicago, Anthropologist Marina Peterson writes in a report in 1996, "Specific allegations have been made of Freeport's direct association with human rights abuses undertaken by the Indonesian government on Freeport land. Freeport facilities are policed both by Freeport security and the Indonesian military; Freeport feeds, houses, and provides transportation for the Indonesian military; and after any incidence of indigenous resistance against Freeport, the military responds while Freeport looks on." Peterson continues, "In 1977, when West Papuans attacked Freeport facilities, the Indonesian military bombed the natives using U.S.-made Broncos and a Freeport employee sent an anonymous letter to Tapol on August 6, 1977, writing `any native who is seen is shot dead on the spot' (West Papua:The Obliteration of a People, dated 1983). Although Freeport likes to shift blame onto the Indonesian government, Press reports that `One recent Western traveler was told by a Freeport security employee that he and his coworkers amuse themselves by shooting randomly at passing tribesmen and watching them scurry in terror into the woods' and Amnesty International reported that the military used steel containers from Freeport to incarcerate indigenous people."
Mr. Speaker, it might be fair at this point to note that West Papuans differ racially from the majority of Indonesians. West Papuans are Melanesian, believed to be of African descent. In 1990, Nelson Mandela reminded the United Nations that when "it first discussed the South African question in 1946, it was discussing the issue of racism." I cannot help but wonder, Mr. Speaker, if what we are now discussing is the issue of racism in West Papua New Guinea. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Till we are fully free, we are slaves."
Mr. Speaker, ultimately I believe in the goodness of people and in the goodness of the Members of this body. I believe that, as we are made aware of human suffering and gross injustice, we will rise to say enough is enough.
It was not so long ago that Nelson Mandela stood before us in a joint session of Congress, some 9 years ago as I recall, Mr. Speaker, and commented on our stand against apartheid by stating, "The stand you took established the understanding among the millions of our people that here we have friends, here we have fighters against racism, who feel hurt because we are hurt, who seek our success because they, too, seek the victory of democracy over tyranny."
Mr. Speaker, let the people of West Papua know they have friends here, too, they have fighters against racism, who feel hurt because they are hurt. Let them know that we seek their success because we, too, seek the victory of democracy over tyranny. Let us go out this evening with that determination, Mr. Speaker.
Again, I would love to share with my colleagues another quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. who said in part, "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war, that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere have dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the alters of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.... I still believe that we shall over-come." That quote, by the way, Mr. Speaker, was part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech when he accepted the Nobel Prize for the promotion of peace in 1964.
Mr. Speaker, I was in high school then. It was a little high school in the State of Hawaii. It was named Kahuku High School. My high school is among the smallest in number in the State of Hawaii, but Kahuku High School never lacked in size and fierceness when it came to football players.
I was in high school, and our Nation had just elected a new President. I remember well a most profound statement that, to this day, is quoted by people and leaders throughout the world. It was made by President Kennedy who did not mince words when he said in his inaugural address, and I quote, "Let every Nation know that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."
Mr. Speaker, there are close parallels between our country and the colonies of East Timor and West Papua New Guinea. Our Nation was founded under the yoke of British colonialism. East Timor was formerly a colony of Portugal, and West Papua New Guinea was a colonial possession of the Dutch or the Netherlands. But there is a slight difference, however. Unlike our 13 colonies that eventually won their independence from England, immediately following the withdrawal of Portuguese and Dutch influence from East Timor and West Papua New Guinea, respectively, Indonesia's military became the new colonial master of these two colonies.
So when we talk about colonies, Mr. Speaker, our Nation has a very real sense of appreciation of what colonies are like: a constant fear of military rule by a military dictatorship exists , absolutely no freedom of expression , one's family and friends are not free to meet and to congregate, and the right or privilege to petition the government for wrongdoings is denied. One can forget about the privilege of voting freely for people of one's choice to represent you. Simply put, Mr. Speaker, just kiss goodbye to democracy.
Mr. Speaker, our Nation currently is the most powerful and most prosperous country in the world, and the only superpower remaining now since the fall of the former Soviet Union. There are those who argue that we should stop being the policeman of the world. But if we do not assist territories like East Timor and West Papua New Guinea, should we let countries like China, Iran, and Iraq take our place?
We have actively supported the concept of regional security organizations like NATO. Why not revive the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization to serve similar functions that NATO currently provides in Europe?
Mr. Speaker, let us give heed to President Kennedy's challenge to the world and to all our fellow Americans. Let us support the cause of freedom and democracy wherever and whenever any people who live under repressive military governments seek our help.
I commend the people and the good leaders of East Timor for their long-last struggle to become a free people after some 25 years of military rule. Now I challenge my colleagues in the United Nations to do the same for the people of West Papua New Guinea who continue to live in fear of Indonesian military rule for the past 36 years, for that repressive rule still continues.