Common Dreams NewsCenter

We Can't Do It Without You!
 

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

Home > Progressive Community > NewsWire > For Immediate Release
   
Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
   
East Timor Action Network
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 6, 2004
1:02 PM
CONTACT:  East Timor Action Network
John M. Miller, 718-596-7668
 
UN and U.S. Must Commit to Justice for Timor after Indonesian Court Acquits Officers
 

WASHINGTON - August 6 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today urged the United States and United Nations to guarantee real justice for East Timor by establishing an international tribunal.

Responding to an Indonesian appeals court's acquittal of all previously convicted Indonesian military and police officials for violence in East Timor, ETAN spokesperson John M. Miller said "These acquittals shouldn't surprise anyone. Now that Indonesia's judicial farce is in its final act, the United Nations must step in and create an international tribunal with the resources and clout to credibly prosecute the masterminds of the terror in East Timor."

Only two of the 18 defendants brought before Indonesia's Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor have been convicted and had their sentences upheld under appeal. Both are East Timorese.

"More than four years after this sham court was established, the question remains: When will the international community act?" asked Miller.

"Real pressure and real trials are the only ways to end impunity. The U.S. administration and Congress must strengthen restrictions on assistance to the Indonesian military until there is meaningful justice," he added.

"The international community must fulfill its promises of justice to the East Timorese people. The UN-backed serious crimes process in Dili has issued a large number of highly-credible indictments of senior Indonesian officials. They must not be allowed to rot in some file drawer in Dili," Miller said.

"The crimes committed in 1999 and before were crimes against all humanity. Many were directed at undermining a UN mission. We urge the UN to heed East Timor's repeated request that the international community take the lead in pursuing accountability."

"Many of the security officials and militia leaders involved in East Timor continue to destroy lives. Only genuine accountability will bring an end to the terror inflicted by the Indonesian military throughout the archipelago," he added.

Background

Indonesia set up an ad hoc human rights court in early 2000 to deflect calls for an international tribunal in response to the Indonesian military's 1999 campaign of terror in East Timor. The widely criticized court issued its final verdict on August 5, 2003. While six of the 18 people tried were convicted, only the convictions of the two East Timorese on trial have been upheld.

In 1999, prior to and after East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence, the Indonesian military and its militia proxies killed more than 1400 people, displaced three-quarters of the population and destroyed more than 75% of East Timor's infrastructure.

In the months following this devastation, two UN investigations called for the establishment of an international tribunal.

East Timorese leaders, fearful of possible retaliation and stressing the need to establish good relations with their powerful neighbor Indonesia, have repeatedly urged the international community to take the lead on issues of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.

The Security Council mandated the establishment of the Serious Crimes Unit to conduct investigations and prepare indictments to assist in bringing to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity and other serious crimes committed in East Timor in 1999. It also created the Special Panels to hear serous crimes cases.

The SCU has filed 83 indictments accusing 373 individuals. Charges are currently pending against a total of 313 accused; 279 of these remain at large in Indonesia, including former military commander and recent presidential candidate General Wiranto. Only ethnic East Timorese have been convicted or jailed so far. In its final extension of the UN peacekeeping mission, the Security Council called for phasing out the serious crimes process by May 2005.

No special judicial process has been set up to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the bulk of Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation of East Timor prior to 1999, when the Indonesian military was responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 people, one-third of the population.

Last month, 78 members of Congress wrote UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging him to appoint a commission of experts to evaluate existing justice processes and "to carefully consider recommending an international tribunal on East Timor if it finds that current processes have not achieved justice." This month 65 members of the House of Representatives urged U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to reconsider resumption of the Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD) with Indonesia, because its military "has successfully evaded accountability for its well-documented crimes against humanity and war crimes in East Timor."

While standing in a churchyard in Liquica in February 2000, the site of one of the most notorious 1999 massacres in East Timor, the UN Secretary-General called for "justice to prevail over impunity."

###

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.

The press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community. If you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information, please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)

Making News?
Read our Guidelines for Submitting News Releases

CommonDreams.org is an Internet-based progressive news and grassroots activism organization, founded in 1997.
We are a nonprofit, progressive, independent and nonpartisan organization.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.


www.commondreams.org