Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: Letter to UNSG by Free East Timor ! Japan Coalition

Free East Timor! Japan Coalition sent a letter to UNSG on the occasion of UNSC meeting on October 31, calling for an international tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor, committed during the illegal Indonesian occupation. Copies were sent to 15 UNSC member countries, of which UK representative refused to receive the letter (and returned to FETJC later).

Kyo Kageura Tokyo East Timor Association

Oct 20, 2001

The Honorable Kofi Annan United Nations Secretary-General

Dear Secretary General,

We are writing to urge the United Nations to establish an international tribunal to try crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.

The recent attacks against the United States, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, have been rightly condemned by the international community as acts of terrorism. The world has been united in its calls for the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to be identified and brought to justice; in fact, the United Nations Security Council itself, in its antiterrorism plan unanimously adopted on Sept. 30, requires member states to ensure that terrorists are brought to justice and appropriately punished, and to assist each other in connection with criminal investigations into acts of terrorism.

Just as the victims of the U.S. attacks deserve justice, so do the East Timorese. Terrorism, which is generally defined as the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective, is an accurate description of the sufferings inflicted on the East Timorese people by the Indonesian military during the 24 years of Indonesian occupation.

You yourself were shocked at the destruction caused by the Indonesian military and its militia proxies after the 1999 referendum when you visited East Timor in February 2000, commenting in Dili that it was ``worse than what I had imagined" and that the United Nations was ``appalled at the violence and the torture that took place here." You also said that ``it is essential that those who committed crimes be brought to justice," and that ``if the trial (Indonesian domestic investigation) does not go forward as planned, they (the U.N. security council) may revert to an international tribunal."

Unfortunately, to date the U.N. has failed to take effective action to ensure that justice is served, preferring to accept repeated Indonesian assurances that crimes committed in East Timor could be properly handled by Indonesian courts. However, it is now obvious that Indonesia's domestic inquiry cannot produce any kind of meaningful justice for the East Timorese. Not a single one of the TNI commanders named in the preliminary Indonesian investigation as complicit in planning and directing the 1999 atrocities has been indicted; in fact, the investigation into the September 1999 murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes in Dili was dropped last month, despite evidence showing the crime was committed by the Indonesian military's Battalion 745.

Efforts to investigate atrocities committed in 1999 via UNTAET's Serious Crimes Unit and the fledgling East Timorese judicial system have also proved unsatisfactory. The Serious Crimes Unit has only been able to investigate a fraction of the crimes that fall within its mandate, and its work has been blocked by Indonesia's refusal to honor a single extradition request made by UNTAET.

It is now time for the U.N. to follow up on the recommendations of its own initial international commission of inquiry and set up an international tribunal to further investigate crimes against humanity committed in East Timor and prosecute those responsible. This would honor the wishes of the East Timorese people in general, as represented by such figures as Bishop Carlos Belo and the NGO community (a recent conference on justice and accountability in Dili, attended by members of more than 15 East Timorese NGOs, voted unanimously in favor of an international tribunal). It would also in some small way help compensate for the U.N.'s failure to take effective action to help East Timor during Indonesia's illegal 24-year occupation, and to protect the East Timorese from the violence that the U.N. knew would follow the 1999 referendum.

Another important effect of convening an international tribunal would be to send a strong signal that those who violate Security Council resolutions and international law will not be allowed to go unpunished, thereby demonstrating that all the citizens of the world, regardless of nationality, can expect to be treated equally if they are unlucky enough to become the victims of organized terror, and strengthening the Sept. 30 UNSC antiterrorism resolution.

We therefore call on you to: 1) support the establishment of an international tribunal to properly investigate crimes against humanity committed in East Timor, not only in 1999 but throughout the entire period of Indonesian occupation, and prosecute those responsible for these atrocities 2) support the provision of proper funding and resources for East Timor's judicial system to ensure that low-level militia members within East Timor are brought to justice.

Yours sincerely, 
Free East Timor! Japan Coalition

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