More than 750 people from more than 45 countries have signed the online petition so far, including dozens of East Timorese.
"We plan to keep collecting signatures. As long time supporters of independence for Timor-Leste, we are concerned that the country not mortgage its future to international banks and financial institutions,"
"A decade from now, as we are repaying loans we have already spent, our population will be larger, and our shrinking oil revenues will be stretched thin. Tomorrow's children will receive worse education and health care because today’s leaders may have wasted money on questionable mega-projects,"
"We come from many countries, including those that have experienced onerous conditions that placed a priority on repaying loans over the needs of our people. Others of us come from nations that have imposed those conditions,"
A petition signer from Sierra Leone commented: "I don’t [want] East Timor to make the same mistake like my own West African country of origin… I hope Timor will learn from the mistakes of other developing countries that are eternally indebted to the West."
A Timorese signer wrote "We don't need that loan. We have enough resources and wealth. What we need is healthy management and policies."
Signatures can be viewed online at http://www.gopetition.com/
The Government of Timor-Leste is currently free of debt. Despite current substantial income from petroleum resources, the government has asked parliament to approve its first international loans.
In September, more than 137 organizations based in 32 countries endorsed a statement that urged "the government of Timor-Leste to keep the nation debt-free and refrain from borrowing money from international lenders.... to protect its future generations."
This petition is a joint project of the Movimento Kontra Deve, a coalition of civil society organizations in Timor-Leste opposed to their country taking out loans, and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (www.etan.org)
Additional background on Timor-Leste and borrowing can be found in English at http://www.laohamutuk.org/