Subject: SMH: Mary Robinson supports repatriation of Timorese 'war prize'

Sydney Morning Herald Monday, April 23, 2001

Robinson supports campaign to repatriate Timorese 'war prize'

Photo: Juliana dos Santos ... abducted.

By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, has thrown her support behind efforts to free an East Timorese teenage girl taken as a "war prize" by a pro-Indonesian militia leader.

Mrs Robinson has become patron of the Alola Foundation, a new organisation that promotes awareness of sexual violence against East Timorese women.

The case of 16-year old Juliana dos Santos was raised at last month's 57th congress of the UN Commission on Human Rights by Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao, the Australian wife of East Timor's independence leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao.

"We gave Mary Robinson a dossier on Juliana - that was given directly to her. She has everything on the Juliana case. Mary Robinson is very much aware of [it]," Margherita Tracanelli, Mrs Sword Gusmao's media adviser, said yesterday.

"The text Kirsty read at the commission was from Juliana's family. Her aunt, Domingos, stood beside Kirsty when she read the testimony."

The East Timor women's rights group, Fokupers, says it has evidence of more than 182 cases of sexual violence against women by Indonesian troops and pro-Jakarta militia between January and September 1999. That figure is thought to be conservative, with new cases coming to light every month.

Ms Tracanelli said the Alola Foundation was formed partly in response to the abduction of Juliana by Igidio Manek as a "war prize" in 1999. Her family claims she has been kept as a virtual sex slave in a militia-controlled camp in West Timor.

Last week, the Indonesian Army allowed reporters in West Timor access to the teenager. She had a large unexplained bruise over her eye but said she wanted to remain with Manek. Her parents say their daughter has been "brainwashed" by Manek, who has intimidated her into staying with him.

Efforts by the UN and East Timorese human rights groups to enlist Indonesian support to have the teenager repatriated have failed.

Manek is being sought by UN investigators for his involvement in the Suai cathedral massacre of as many as 200 people. He is also wanted for his role in a militia riot last September in the West Timor border town of Atambua in which three staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees were killed.

In related developments, Mr Gusmao has warned Jakarta that it risks facing an international criminal tribunal on East Timor if it fails to prosecute those responsible for war crimes in 1999.

"If the Indonesian Government doesn't respond in a better way the international tribunal will be [established] ... for us East Timorese we have also a special court but we are hoping the Indonesian Government can accomplish its obligations," he said.

Mr Gusmao made the comments late on Saturday after returning from a three-day visit to Jakarta, where he called on authorities to demobilise and disarm pro-Indonesian militias that continue to operate from Indonesian West Timor.

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