|Subject: Indon, E. Timor announce truth
Indonesia, E. Timor announce truth commission membership
Aug. 1 (Kyodo) - The governments of East Timor and Indonesian announced Monday the composition of their truth commission to investigate human rights abuses committed in 1999 when East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yuri Thamrin told a press conference that 10 people of "high standing and competence" -- five from East Timor and five from Indonesia -- have been selected and will consult each other.
A simultaneous announcement took place in Dili.
The Indonesian side picked Achmad Ali, a legal expert; Wisber Loeis, former director general of international economic relationship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Benjamin Mangkudilaga, a former Supreme Court justice; Petrus Turang, a West Timor bishop; and Agus Widjojo, a military expert.
The East Timor members are Jacinto Alves, Diorinicio Babo, Aniceto Guterres, Felicidade Guterres and Cirilio Varadales, according to the press statement issued in Jakarta.
"The members of the commission have free access to all documents related to the human rights abuses that can be used to reveal the truth, including on the reasons behind the abuses," Thamrin said.
The commission has been tasked with establishing a "conclusive truth of events" to promote reconciliation and friendship and to ensure that such tragic events will not be repeated.
According to Thamrin, the commission, which is based in the Bali provincial capital Denpasar, will begin work as soon as possible.
Preliminary consultations will take place in Denpasar on Aug. 4-5.
The commission is modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Unlike the one in South Africa, however, the commission will have no decisive power. The commission can only make recommendations to the parliaments of both sides and cannot prosecute anyone.
The commission, which has a one-year mandate that can be extended for another year, was established based on an agreement between Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor President Xanana Gusmao last December.
During the press conference, Thamrin also reiterated the rejection of both East Timor and Indonesia of a report by the U.N.-appointed Commission of Experts that calls for prosecution of mostly Indonesian figures over the 1999 violence.
In the report, the commission recommends the United Nations invoke its charter to set up an international tribunal to try those involved in the East Timor violence if Indonesia refuses to prosecute them within six months, under international supervision.
It reportedly says prosecutions made so far by an ad hoc human rights tribunal set up by the Indonesian government in response to international pressure to try those responsible for the violence have been "manifestly inadequate" with "scant respect for relevant international standards."
The panel of experts was set up by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in February to examine the issue of bringing to justice those responsible for the 1999 violence.
The commission, consisting of three members from Fiji, India and Japan, was told to assess progress made by the judicial processes in Dili and Jakarta and make recommendations to Annan with regard to future action.
Annan established the commission after the U.N. Security Council expressed concern over Indonesia's failure to punish those responsible for the violence.
All 18 military and civilian officers charged with human rights abuses in East Timor have been acquitted.
The Guardian Monday August 1, 2005
The Editor briefing
Indonesia resists East Timor prosecutions
Indonesia says that it can settle allegations of human rights abuses in East Timor without help from the United Nations. Is justice likely without western involvement?
What happened in East Timor?
Militia gangs, allegedly directed by Indonesian army officers, went on a rampage of killings and arson before and after East Timorese voted for independence from Jakarta in a UN-sponsored ballot in August 1999. They killed about 1,400 independence supporters and laid waste to much of the infrastructure of the former Portuguese territory, which Indonesia had invaded and annexed in the mid-1970s.
From the Agence France-Presse newswire, July 13
What is the UN proposing?
To set up an international tribunal to try those involved in the East Timor violence if Indonesia refuses to prosecute them within six months under international supervision. It reportedly says that prosecutions made so far, by an ad hoc human rights tribunal set up by the Indonesian government in response to international pressure ... have been "manifestly inadequate", with "scant respect for relevant international standards".
From the Antara news agency, Indonesia, July 8
What does Indonesia want?
To avert calls for an international war crimes tribunal on Indonesian military atrocities in East Timor, promoting instead a truth commission to probe abuses committed in the province after it voted for independence in 1999 ... The US government ... has made clear that it would be willing to support such a commission if "it is a credible process".
Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, July 16
Why does Indonesia object to a tribunal?
The [Indonesian] government ... believes that the establishment of an international tribunal for the East Timor case would not be easy ... "The UN is facing a lot of problems such as the cases of Darfur and Iraq. Why hasn't the case involving the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay in the United States been proposed for a tribunal? It's a case of gross human rights violations. It's more severe than the East Timor case. They shouldn't apply a double standard," [the defence minister] Juwono Sudarsono said.
From the Jakarta Post, July 5
What form will the truth commission take?
Modelled on South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission, it will be tasked with establishing a conclusive truth of events to promote reconciliation and friendship ... Unlike the one in South Africa, however, the commission will have no decisive power. The commission can only make recommendations to the parliaments of both sides and cannot prosecute anyone. The commission ... will have 10 members, with five from Indonesia and five from East Timor. The two governments have proposed lists of experts, human rights activists, lawyers, politicians, religious leaders and scholars to be members of the commission, which will convene [on] August 10.
Christine T Tjandraningsih from the Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, July 8
What is Indonesia's human rights record like?
With the fall of the authoritarian regime of General Suharto in 1998, rights advocates had hoped that the prosecution of military officers [in Indonesia] would at last be possible. But today, progress is uncertain ... "Whether it is a massacre from the Suharto era or killings in East Timor ... the Indonesian military continues to get away with murder," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch in New York. "The military remains above the law, apparently too powerful for the courts to tame."
Vaudine England in the International Herald Tribune, July 13
Has East Timor brought any prosecutions?
East Timor's serious crimes unit, which was established by the UN in 2000 and concluded investigations last November, indicted 391 people. But 339 remain at large, outside East Timor's jurisdiction, including General Wiranto [Indonesia's former defence minister and military commander] ... Eduardo Gonzalez, from the New York-based International Centre for Transitional Justice, said: "The justice process in Timor was orphaned because the UN distanced itself from the process, because the government of Timor preferred to appease its powerful neighbour, and because Indonesia decided not to cooperate."
Mark Turner, Financial Times, July 1
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