Madison-Ainaro Sister City Alliance

The Madison-Ainaro Sister City Alliance (MASA) is a project of the Madison East Timor solidarity community. It was established in February 2000, in response to a request from community leaders in Ainaro for international friends to partner with them at a crucial time.

The mission statement of the group reads, in part:

The indomitable bravery of the East Timorese, who resisted a brutal, 24 year-long military occupation and nonviolently acted to end it, inspires us to pursue social justice here. Through the sister city relationship, we will actively support movement towards a vital, inclusive, egalitarian society in both East Timor and the U.S.

During the ten years of our project, we have worked to make contact with friends in Ainaro, hosted delegations, and provided material aid made possible by the good people of Madison. In association with a similar organization in Ballarat, Australia, we are establishing an extensive network of friends and organizers to make the most of these international opportunities. With your help, we can do even more in the future. (Read more in our PDF brochure.)

Madison-Ainaro Sister City Alliance

c/o Eric S. Piotrowski
213 N. Fifth Street
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 241-2473

Madison is a community with a strong tradition of international solidarity on peace and social justice issues. During the brutal Indonesian military occupation of East Timor, we worked to end American complicity in the genocide of the Timorese. Now that their bravery and persistence has won them their country back, we can begin a direct, open dialogue and exchange of ideas and skills with the Timorese.

You can support our work by making a contribution.

Please make checks payable to "East Timor Action Network" and write "MASA" in the memo line. Tax-deductible contributions can be made to the Foundation for International Scientific Cooperation/MASA. All donations may be sent to the address shown here. Thank you for your support!

The Ainaro Lia-Foun

MASA's official newsletter, published once a year (sometimes more), is filled with news and updates on conditions in Ainaro and our work with the people there. We're pleased to present the full text of past issues:

Spring 2011

Spring 2010

Summer 2009

Autumn 2008

Spring 2006

Spring 2005

Action Alerts

In addition, these older issues are -- at least for now -- available only in PDF format:


To establish lasting connections between Madison and Ainaro, MASA has conducted regular delegations to and from East Timor. The following are brief descriptions of each voyage, with the most recent at the top:

Other individuals have also been integral to MASA's work:

Solidarity Grants

MASA supports a variety of programs in the district of Ainaro, East Timor. We're always looking for ways to show solidarity, so please contact us if you know of a program that might be a good fit for our group.

Other Activities

In addition to all of the above, MASA carries out various other activities and events to educate Madison about the history and culture of East Timor, as well as provide real solidarity assistance to the people of Ainaro.

History of MASA

On 20 February 2001, the Madison city council unanimously approved a resolution making Ainaro, East Timor an official Madison sister city and the first such East Timor sister city in the US. (Read the Press Release for more details.) The relationship was established at the request of the community of Ainaro, who has also urged concerned groups to help with medical, women's, educational, farming, and other projects.

This historic event received the enthusiastic support of Tammy Baldwin, who represents Wisconsin's 2nd District in the US House of Representatives; and Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold.

Why Ainaro?

Ainaro is a small mountain town in the southwest of East Timor. Ainaro's main resources are its delicious organic coffee and aromatic sandalwood trees. It is a diverse community, where Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims are neighbors.

Unfortunately, Ainaro was also home to a large contingent of Indonesian military-backed militias in the months leading up to the August 30th, 1999 referendum on independence. An observer of the ballot in Ainaro commented:

"The day of the vote was amazing. We got to the main polling station at about 6 am, and over half the town was there waiting in line for the polls to open at 7 . . . Inside the ballot rooms many people kissed their ballots before putting them in the boxes . . . About a half-hour after the polling started, a small bomb went off outside -- nobody was hurt, and although everyone skittered a few feet, after a moment they all went back to their places in line, undeterred."

According to a visitor to Ainaro following the military's post-ballot destruction, "just about every building in Ainaro is burnt out . . . [many people] have been forcefully sent to [Indonesian] West Timor camps."

A sister city relationship with Ainaro is needed to assist in the rebuilding of the community and to advocate for human rights and justice. We also believe that international solidarity is needed to assure that the transitional United Nations administration and international aid groups in East Timor work with and are respectful of the Timorese and their culture. Lastly, we see a great need for monitoring the activities of international financial institutions in East Timor.

Files and Links

The following items may be of particular interest to the Madison-area solidarity community (or wherever you are):

Articles & Documents

Other Madison Sister Cities