ETAN: Joint Commission Unlikely to Further Truth or Friendship
Between Timor a
John M Miller
Feb 22, 2007 16:15 PST
Joint Commission Unlikely to Further Truth or Friendship Between
Timor and Indonesia
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; mobile: 917-690-4391, email@example.com
February 22, 2007 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
(ETAN) said today that the joint Indonesia-East Timor Commission of
Truth and Friendship (CTF) can not further either goal its name suggests.
"The current public hearings give us no reason to change our view
that the CTF is meant to prematurely close the books, leaving those
who masterminded Indonesia's campaign of violence in East Timor in
1999 unrepentant and untouched," said John M. Miller, National
Coordinator of ETAN. "A whitewash is not a basis on which to create
justice or build friendship between peoples or nations."
"The truth of 1999 is known. The joint commission's quest for a
consensus history will only lead to a watered-down version of events
which have already been well-aired. Instead of offering amnesties in
exchange for self-serving statements by Indonesian officials,
resources would be better used educating the Indonesian public about
its military's sordid actions in East Timor and prosecuting the
officials who organized and conducted those crimes," said Miller.
The CTF was formed in March 2005 by the presidents of Indonesia and
East Timor in an unsuccessful effort to dissuade then UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan from appointing a Commission of Experts
(COE) to make recommendations to ensure justice for human rights
crimes committed in East Timor in 1999.
"We support good relations between the Indonesian and East Timorese
people, but they will not overcome their tragic pasts or build
democracies until there is genuine accountability for decades of
systematic human rights violations by the Indonesian military," said
Miller. "This de facto impunity has an impact on East Timor today,
contributing to the current security crisis which has forced tens of
thousands in the capital from their homes."
"Victims testifying to the commission have been treated insensitively
at best by some of the Indonesian commissioners," said Miller.
Formed over the objections of East Timor's Catholic Church and both
countries' civil society organizations, the CTF is to establish a
"shared historical record" of human rights violations before and
after Timor-Leste's independence ballot in 1999. It can recommend
amnesty for those who "cooperate fully" with it and can propose
people-to-people reconciliation efforts, but it cannot recommend
prosecution or other judicial measures. It has no power to compel
testimony or cooperation.
The UN's COE found that the CTF's Terms of Reference contradict
international and domestic laws, and offer no mechanisms for
addressing serious crimes. The COE report recommends that the
governments revise the terms of reference as a precondition to
receiving international support. Indonesia's Constitutional Court
recently cast further doubt on the CTF's legal basis. Among other
principles, the CTF is supposed to operate under the guidelines of
Indonesia's own Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However,
Indonesia's Constitutional Court recently declared the Indonesian
commission unconstitutional, citing provisions allowing for amnesty
for serious crimes and conditioning reparations on victims forgiving
The CTF has access to the records of East Timor's Commission for
Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), the joint UN-East Timor
serious crimes process, the Indonesian National Commission of Inquiry
on Human Rights Violations in East Timor in 1999 (KPP HAM) and the
deeply-flawed Ad-hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor. However,
Indonesia's military and ministries are not required to open their
records, which might actually provide additional evidence.
Unlike the CAVR, the CTF will not address events prior to 1999, when
the majority of the deaths and human rights crimes during Indonesia's
invasion and occupation violations occurred.
Rafendi Djamin of the Human Rights Working Group told the Jakarta
Post, "It has been agreed by the international community that gross
human rights violations did take place in East Timor and the
perpetrators must stand trial for that." East Timor's Judicial System
Monitoring Programme has said that any amnesties would likely be the
result of "a high level political conspiracy between the Government
of Indonesia and Timor-Leste," undermining the rights of victims and
paving the way for further rights violations.
ETAN was formed in 1991. The U.S.-based organization advocates for
democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia.
For more information see ETAN's web site: http://www.etan.org.
ETAN welcomes your financial support. For more info:
John M. Miller Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097
Mobile phone: (917)690-4391 Skype: john.m.miller
Web site: http://www.etan.org
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