Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: APCET letter to UN Security Council on International Tribunal

29 October, 2001

The Honorable Permanent Ambassadors Security Council Countries United Nations

Your Excellencies:

Allow us to communicate our concerns to you on your impending crucial meeting of the United Nations Security Council on East Timor this week. We are a coalition formed in 1994 to support the self-determination of East Timor. We have at present 17 affiliates from Asia-Pacific countries.

We are writing to urge you to establish an international tribunal to try the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in East Timor from 1975 onward.

We believe that the formation of the tribunal will ensure that no further crimes are committed against the people of East Timor and that past transgressors will be brought to justice. Such tribunal will also send a strong signal to potential criminals elsewhere in the world that crimes like these will not go unpunished.

However, the United Nations seems to be waiting for the Indonesian justice system to bring the perpetrators of the crimes to trial. But we believe that justice for East Timor under the Indonesia system is far from possible, if at all. Indonesia has so far only succeeded in creating the Indonesian Commission of Inquiry (KPP HAM) and has only organized recently the ad hoc court on East Timor.

While we commend this initiative and salute the dedication and credentials of some of its members, the performance of these two entities are far from satisfactory. The light sentences slapped on the murderers of the three workers of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees at Atambua in September 2000 demonstrates Indonesia's inability to deliver genuine justice.

And after naming 22 suspects (none of whom were top-level military officers) for crimes committed in East Timor, the Indonesian court process has only resulted in numerous postponements for the trials and the dwindling number of suspects and incidents being investigated.

Both the KPP-HAM and the International Commission of Inquiry established by the UNHCR have recommended last year that high-level Indonesian military commanders should be prosecuted, and that an international court is the only practical way to accomplish this.

But the passing events only reveal that Indonesia cannot or will not prosecute its high-ranking military officers. Many of the TNI officers responsible for planning the 1975 invasion, the crimes from thereon up to the systematic destruction in East Timor in 1999 are still holding influential positions in Indonesia. In fact, their bloodied boots are running roughshod again in conflict-torn Aceh and West Papua. This continuing impunity has to be stopped.

Your Excellencies, there is paramount need to establish an effective mechanism to investigate, prosecute and punish those who committed flagrant violations of international law in East Timor. We strongly urge you to implement the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry and endorse now the creation of an international tribunal for East Timor.

As a non-governmental movement, we can choose other avenues of redress, one of which is to pursue the issue in the bar of international opinion or seek justice before international civil society processes.

We are however hopeful that your Excellencies will mark this month's commemoration of the UN's birthing by being true to the principles of which you were founded. In this era when peoples of the world have almost lost faith and trust in entities such as the UN, establishing an international tribunal for East Timor will be an apt celebration of the ideals that engendered the UN.

We pray that you do not scuttle this chance.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent issue.


Mr. Augusto N. Miclat, Jr. Coordinator

cc: Foreign Ministers of Portugal and Indonesia Members of the United Nations Security Council

-- Victor C. Sapar ICT Officer Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) Tel.: (63)(82) 2992574 and 75 Fax: (63)(82) 2992052

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