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ETAN on the report of the Commission on Truth and Friendship  John M Miller
 Jul 14, 2008 10:13 PDT 


ETAN Renews Call for Meaningful Justice for Victims of Indonesian Occupation

International Tribunal Needed in Wake of
Commission of Truth and Friendship Report

July 14 - The new report of the Commission of
Truth and Friendship (CTF) does little to advance
accountability for the many crimes against
humanity committed by Indonesia in Timor-Leste,
the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network (ETAN) said today. The report, Per
Memoriam Ad Spem (From Memory to Hope), is
scheduled to be handed to the presidents of
Indonesia and Timor-Leste in Bali on Tuesday.

“Impunity continues for Indonesian perpetrators
of the countless crimes against humanity in
Timor-Leste. The CTF report makes no progress
toward achieving justice for the thousands of
victims and their families,” said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN.

“The Commission was restricted to looking at
1999, the final year of Indonesia’s illegal
24-year occupation. Even within that limited
period, the Commission was prohibited from naming
individuals who committed crimes or recommending
ways to bring them to justice,” added Miller.

“We are encouraged that the Commission
acknowledged the institutional responsibility of
the Indonesian state and its security forces, and
that it refused to recommend amnesties or find
credible the self-serving testimony by former
Indonesian generals.” said Miller. “The advance
copy we have seen is better than many had feared,
but must not be the final word.”

"Establishing and admitting institutional
responsibility is important, but the repressive
policies in Timor-Leste in 1999 were directed and
carried out by individuals," said Miller. "An
international criminal tribunal would be the most
effective means to bring those individuals to
justice. It would send a clear message to those
who might consider or conduct such crimes in the
future. We urge the UN Security Council to create one," he added.

“The CTF report insists on a false
even-handedness between violations by
pro-Indonesia and pro-independence forces, and a
dishonest equivalence between people struggling
for their legal right to self-determination and
those enforcing an illegal foreign military
occupation. It is clearly a political document,
resulting from compromises between Indonesian and
Timor-Leste Commissioners, rather than a
definitive, objective statement of events,” Miller said.

"The CTF report proposes some reforms in
Indonesia. For years, the Indonesian government
has promised to implement many of them.
Unfortunately, this reform effort reform has been
stalled by opposition from a still-powerful military," added Miller.

Several of the generals -- including Presidential
candidate Wiranto who headed the Indonesian armed
forces during 1999 and was indicted for crimes
against humanity in Timor-Leste, have rejected
the report's findings of institutional responsibility.

Miller urged that the two governments “quickly
release the report to the public, so all can
fully evaluate its merits and
recommendations. Friendship between government
officials must not be allowed to pre-empt justice
for perpetrators and reparations to their victims.”

"Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and the UN have produced
several official reports on the atrocities of
1999, some of which underlie the CTF report.
Names have been named, indictments issued, and
some trials held, albeit of low-level
perpetrators (by the UN) or without serious
intention (by Indonesia). Nine years after
Indonesian soldiers and the militia proxies they
commanded ravaged Timor-Leste, senior Indonesian
officials in charge of those events enjoy
promotions, active political careers or cozy
retirement," said Miller. "Failure to bring these
people to justice continues to undermine human
rights and the rule of law in both countries."

”The CTF’s report is more credible than we
expected, although its findings confirm much of
what past reports had long ago concluded,
especially that Indonesian military, police and
government controlled the anti-independence
militia, as well as directly engaging in the
violence and destruction against the overwhelming
majority of the Timor-Leste population who
supported independence,” said Miller. “However,
the report makes some highly problematical assertions."

“We cannot accept that the CTF’s conclusion that
the atrocities of 1999 were caused by low-level
Indonesian soldiers failing to follow
recently-instituted policies to respect human
rights. The campaign of violent intimidation was
so well-planned and pervasive that there must
have been orders for crimes against humanity
passed down the chain of command. The events of
1999 were a direct out-growth of the preceding 23
years of Jakarta’s brutal military occupation,” said Miller.

“The CTF report attempts to artificially balance
the massive crimes by Indonesian forces with
accusations of a small number of human rights
violations (mainly illegal detention) by
pro-independence supporters. Most observers at
the time praised the pro-independence side for
its restraint in the face of intense provocation.
It is disingenuous to assign responsibility to
the current government of Timor-Leste for a few
actions contrary to resistance movement policy."

BACKGROUND

Indonesia invaded neighboring Timor-Leste in
December 1975 in an unprovoked act of military
aggression. The ensuing 24-year occupation, which
killed more than 100,000 Timorese civilians, was
never recognized by the United Nations. When the
East Timorese were finally allowed to express
their views through a UN-conducted referendum in
1999, nearly 80% voted for independence. Both
before and after the referendum, Indonesian
military and police forces, aided by Timorese
militia they created and directed, created an
atmosphere of terror in Timor-Leste, finally
laying waste to the entire country. In the
occupation’s final year, Indonesian forces and
their militia proxies murdered more than 1,400
people, forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands,
and burned or destroyed 75% of Timor-Leste’s buildings and infrastructure.

In late 2004, the presidents of Indonesia and
Timor-Leste proposed a bi-national Commission of
Truth and Friendship to try to dissuade UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan from appointing the
Commission of Experts (COE). Nevertheless, the UN
established the COE, whose June 2005 report
documented the inadequacy of efforts to achieve
justice for crimes against humanity committed in
1999. The COE reiterated other official and
unofficial reports by recommending that an
international criminal tribunal be created within
six months if Indonesia fails “to ensure that
accountability is secured for those responsible
for grave human rights violations and human suffering on a massive scale….”

The CTF was mandated to establish "the shared
historical record of the reported human rights
violations that took place in the period leading
up to and immediately following the popular
consultation in Timor-Leste in August 1999" to
bring "definitive closure of the issues of the
past." However, its mandate prohibited the
commission from recommending prosecution of
individuals or any judicial processes. (The
commission says it did not recommend any
amnesties because no alleged perpetrators told
the complete truth or cooperated fully with the
commission. It also stated that its “conclusions
do not represent the end of a process of closure
and reconciliation, but rather a beginning.”)

The UN considered that the commission’s mandate
to grant amnesties violated international norms
against impunity and declined to cooperate with
it. In addition, the Timor-Leste Catholic Church
and other civil society organizations in both
countries objected to the CTF, expecting it to
undermine and delay efforts at justice and accountability.

The CTF took testimony from many powerful people
in private sessions, and Timor-Leste victims who
testified in public were harassed. Indonesia
refused to allow the CTF to access security
forces' files. Although only about 1% of the
murders and massacres during Indonesia’s illegal
occupation occurred in 1999, the commission could only look at that year.

This past June, an international coalition of
more than 90 human rights and other organizations
wrote the United Nations Secretary-General that
the CTF report "must not stand as the last word."
The groups urged Ban Ki-Moon "to work to
establish a meaningful legal process to try those
responsible for crimes against humanity, war
crimes and other serious crimes committed by
Indonesian forces during the occupation of Timor-Leste."

In early 2000, the Indonesian government’s
Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Abuses in
East Timor (KPP HAM), working with fewer
resources and less time than the CTF, recommended
a number of individuals for investigation and
prosecution. Beginning soon after Indonesia’s
withdrawal, experts working on behalf of the UN
Human Rights Commission, the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights and the UN Secretary-General
have produced several highly credible reports on
the events of 1999. Timor-Leste's independent
Commission for Reception, Truth and
Reconciliation (CAVR) produced a 2,500 page
comprehensive report on the context and details
of human rights violations from 1974 to 1999.
Although a UN-supported Serious Crimes Process
indicted nearly 400 people for 1999 crimes in
Timor-Leste, more than 70% of them, including
General Wiranto and other high-ranking Indonesian
military officials, enjoy sanctuary in Indonesia.

ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human
rights for Timor-Leste (East Timor) and
Indonesia. For additional background, see <http://www.etan.org>www.etan.org.

http://www.etan.org/news/2008/07ctf.htm

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ETAN welcomes your support. For more info: http://etan.org/etan/donate.htm

John M. Miller         Internet: fb-@igc.org
National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668     Mobile phone: (917)690-4391
Skype: john.m.miller
Web site: http://www.etan.org

Send a blank e-mail message to in-@etan.org to find out
how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet

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