Subject: UN-sponsored panel presents report on 24 years of occupation of East Timor

October 31, 2005

UN-sponsored panel presents report on 24 years of occupation of East Timor

DILI, East Timor (AP) - A UN-sanctioned panel investigating human rights violations during Indonesia's bloody 24-year occupation of East Timor on Monday presented its findings to the country's president.

The report, which is likely to be scathingly critical of Indonesian rule, will not be made public until Nov. 28, when President Xanana Gusmao will formally submit it to parliament and to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"The final report addresses a significant portion of the history of our people," said Aniceto Guterres, who headed the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation set up by the United Nations in 2001 while the world body was still governing the half-island territory.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975. Recently declassified U.S. government documents show that Indonesia's former dictator Suharto ordered the invasion after receiving tacit approval for the attack from former U.S. president Gerald Ford and secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who visited Jakarta on the day before the assault.

A fierce guerrilla war ensued in which up to 200,000 people - one-third of the population - perished.

In 1999, after Suharto's ouster, a UN-sponsored referendum resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence. In retaliation, Indonesian troops and their militia proxies unleashed a reign of terror in which much of East Timor was destroyed before the arrival of international peacekeepers.

Jakarta has refused to deliver officials responsible for the bloodshed to a court in East Timor and the panel's findings are likely to result in intensified calls for the Indonesians to be tried by an international war crimes tribunal like those for Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia.

"If history is a description of deeds, this report is about acts perpetrated in violation of human rights," Guterres said.


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