Subject: RT: Jakarta, Dili say truth commission to bring closure

East Timor, Indonesia Formally Launch Truth Commission

Aug 11, 2005 06:24 PDT

Jakarta, Dili say truth commission to bring closure


Bali- Indonesia and East Timor said on Thursday a truth commission they have set up to probe bloodshed surrounding East Timor's independence vote was one way to bring closure to a dark chapter in their relations. The presidents of both nations were on the Indonesian island of Bali on Thursday to swear in the 10-member commission. Each country provides half of the personnel for the body. "We are expected to prove to all the sceptics that this is a wise decision. This is a creative step forward in highlighting the presence of a not so pleasant history in a frank and open manner," said East Timor President Xanana Gusmao, a former war hero who spent years in a Jakarta prison.

His Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former army general who fought against Timor guerrillas said the commission's establishment was "a sign of maturity in the relationship between our countries... It underscores the resolved intention of Indonesia and East Timor to develop a constructive relationship that is forward looking, the way a relationship between two neighboures should be," he said during the swearing-in ceremony. In a news conference after the ceremony, Yudhoyono reiterated the commission had no intention to seek prosecutions. "Remember, it is not a commission of justice but a commission of truth. What we are seeking is the genuine truth," he said.

The commission is co-chaired by a former Indonesian Supreme Court judge and a former Dili district judge. An Indonesian human rights court set up under international pressure convicted six of 18 Indonesian security officers and others charged in relation to the violence. Five convictions were later overturned and an appeal of the sixth is pending. (Reuters)

East Timor, Indonesia Launch Truth Commission

Bali- Indonesia and its former province of East Timor on Thursday inaugurated a joint truth and friendship commission tasked with looking into human rights abuses in connection with East Timor's 1999 vote for independence. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and his East Timor counterpart, Xanana Gusmão, led the inauguration ceremony. The two leaders also led the oath taking of the 10-member panel, comprised of legal experts, human rights activists and at least one retired military general. The so-called Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), modeled on South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will carry out its job for one year, and this can be extended for another year.

Yudhoyono said the commission was not aimed at prosecuting anyone found responsible for the bloody rampage but to unveil the truth behind the human rights abuses around East Timor's 1999 vote for independence that left more than 1,000 people dead. ``Remember, this commission is not a justice panel, but a commission of truth and friendship,'' said Yudhoyono, a former Indonesian army general, at a joint press conference.

Echoing Yudhoyono's remarks, Gusmão, an ex-East Timorese guerrilla fighter, admitted that some people were skeptical about the joint truth commission. ``We will prove that a decision to establish the CTF is credible,'' Gusmão said, expressing the hope that the panel's working results could lead to speeding the reconciliation process between the two countries.

Both Indonesia and East Timor have rejected a call for a United Nations tribunal to try Indonesian security officers and leaders of militia gangs blamed for the 1999 bloody rampage. Indonesia has established its own ad-hoc human rights tribunal. All but one of 18 suspects tried have been either acquitted and cleared by Indonesian courts.

The Indonesian Supreme Court early this month acquitted a former military district chief in East Timor, making him the last military officer to be cleared of all charges. The Supreme Court is reviewing the sentence of a former East Timor pro-Indonesia militia leader, who was given a 10-year sentence that was later, reduced to five years. He remains free pending his appeal. (DPA)

Xinhua General News Service

August 11, 2005 Thursday 3:00 AM EST

Indonesia, Timor Leste inaugurate friendship commission


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Timor Leste counterpart Xanana Gusmao on Thursday inaugurated the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) in a ceremony held on the resort island of Bali.

The two leaders also led the oath-taking ceremony of ten commission members, each country is represented by five members.

Indonesia is represented by former chief justice Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, former chief of staff of the military territorial Lieu. Gen. (ret) Agus Widjojo, legal expert Achmad Ali, chief bishop Petrus Turang and senior diplomat Wisber Loeis.

Timor Leste membership includes Jasinto Alves, Dionisio Babo Suarez, Aniceto Guterres, Felicidade Guterres and Cirilo Faladalez.

They were elected for a one-year term but their membership can be extended for another year.

According to the terms of reference agreed by the two governments, the CTF members are mandated to find the truth behind the alleged human rights abuses before, during and after the UN- sponsored referendum for independence in Timor Leste in 1999.

The CTF members are granted with free access to travel in both countries for investigation.

But the Antara news agency reported that the commission is based on "reconciliation approach" and its investigation should not lead to a prosecution. The commission also cannot recommend any tribunal.

Back to August menu 
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu