Subject: JP: Rights groups slam E.Timor truth & friendship commission

also: Final preparations in place for East Timor elections

The Jakarta Post

Monday, April 02, 2007

Rights groups slam truth body

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A number of human rights monitoring groups have accused the recently-completed second phase of Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) hearings of having distorted facts regarding human rights violations that occurred during Timor Leste's 1999 referendum.

"The CTF has deconstructed rather than reconstructed the existing findings collected previously," the head of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence's impunity division, Haris Azhar, said Saturday.

He said the CTF had ignored data gathered collectively by the Indonesian National Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in East Timor in 1999, Timor Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and the UN's Special Panel for Serious Crimes.

The groups, which have joined forces to raise an "alternative" voice in parallel to the second phase of CTF hearings, said the original aim of the hearings had been distorted to keep several political players from both countries secure.

They said more "actors" and policy makers were present at the hearings than victims.

"Eurico Guterres, a pro-Indonesia militia leader, spoke a lot about (events) in 1959 and 1975 rather than focusing on events in 1999. The hearing of former president Habibie was also unfair because they had a closed-door meeting."

The groups claim the CTF has strayed from its original mission of disclosing the truth of human rights violations during the 1999 referendum. The second phase of hearings was completed Friday.

Khoirul Anam, deputy coordinator for the Human Rights Working Group, said information concealed during the hearings could be used as a basis for a reform of the Indonesian Military (TNI).

The testimonies of actors have turned the United Nations Mission for East Timor (UNAMET) into a scapegoat, he said.

"The CTF should reject the data they gathered during the public hearing, as they failed to focus on human rights abuses," said Agung Yudhawiranata, networking coordinator for the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy.

The group noted that the testimony of Yenny Rosa Damayanti, a member of a referendum monitoring group, differed from statements made by (ret) Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, who blamed UNAMET for sparking the unrest.

Yenny said she regretted that UNAMET lost its dignity through its failure to maintain a non-violent approach during its running of Timor Leste's administration.

Taufik Basari, a legal director at the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute, said his organization would send letters to the presidents of Indonesia and Timor Leste, as well as to the UN, signaling the need to question more victims and less policy makers.

"They can start by changing their method of conducting the hearings," he said.

Several other rights watchdogs, such as Forum Asia and the People Empowerment Consortium, are among the organizations involved in the unified group.

Political observer Ikrar Nusa Bakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences said it would be difficult to uncover the truth behind the incidents and violence that surrounded the Aug. 30, 1999, referendum.

"Such orders to destroy people's houses and public property could only have been made orally, rather than in writing, to avoid it being used as proof," he told The Jakarta Post.

At the CTF hearing, former president B.J. Habibie denied he had given the go ahead for the destruction of property. Military officials also denied they had received or issued any orders to damage property.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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