Subject: CTF Reports: TNI Responsible: Djoko [+2 Op-Eds; Pro-RI
- TNI responsible for East Timor mayhem: Chief
- Op-Ed: CTF's historic report: First step toward redemption
- Op-Ed: After the CTF report: Where to next?
- Refugees skeptical over CTF report
- World community should back RI on CTF report
- Hopes Slim to Try Timor Rights Abusers
The Jakarta Post
Friday, July 18, 2008
TNI responsible for East Timor mayhem: Chief
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Indonesian Military (TNI) on Thursday admitted partial responsibility for gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999, saying it would abide by any government decisions to follow up on a joint truth commission report.
The report by the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) blamed the Indonesian government, military and police forces for crimes including murder, rape, torture and forced displacement.
"The government has accepted the report. The TNI will also accept it and wait for whatever action the government considers taking next," TNI chief Gen. Djoko Santoso was quoted by Antara news agency as saying at a press conference at Magelang Military Academy in Central Java.
He said the 1999 mayhem was "the state's responsibility and has become TNI's responsibility".
Djoko added it was still not clear yet what kind of amends the military would have to make in relation to recommendations in the report, because it was still under government scrutiny.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Timor Leste counterpart, Jose Ramos-Horta, received the CTF report at a ceremony Tuesday in Bali.
Indonesia accepted the blame for the gross rights violations that took place before, during and after the 1999 referendum that led to East Timor's independence from Indonesia.
However, both Yudhoyono and Ramos-Horta agreed to consider the report the final authoritative account of what occurred during that period, in a bid to heal the wounds of victims and lay a foundation for stronger relations between the two neighbors.
This means none of the perpetrators of the violence will be prosecuted because "the case is closed", Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said.
Djoko said the military was "part of the state administration that follows the principles of democracy and thus abides by any decisions made by political authorities".
The CTF's establishment in 2001 was part of joint efforts by Indonesia and Timor Leste to resolve the pressing issue of human rights abuses by the TNI.
"This effort was a choice to overcome the problem by finding the truth and building friendships, while still looking to the future," Djoko said.
"With friendship, the two countries hope to be able to remember the past and draw wisdom for the future by improving cooperation."
The report said TNI and police personnel, as well as civilian authorities, consistently and systematically cooperated with and provided significant support to pro-Indonesia militias, thus contributing to the widespread violence.
The CTF mentioned the names of former Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) chief Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto, former transmigration minister Gen. (ret) Hendropriyono, former Udayana military commander Maj. Gen. (ret) Adam Damiri and his former deputy Maj. Gen. Mahidin Simbolon.
Pro-integration militia leader Tomas Goncalves said he met with Prabowo and then East Timor commander Col. Tono Suratman, and former military intelligence commander Lt. Col. Yayat Sudrajat in Oct. 1998 to plan the formation of East Timor militia groups, according to the report.
The CTF also revealed the role of former Indonesian military chief Gen. Wiranto, who was blamed by omission for the violence because as the highest-ranking military officer he should have known of the militia groups' movement.
The Jakarta Post Friday, July 18, 2008
CTF's historic report: First step toward redemption
Ati Nurbaiti, Jakarta
There is an underlying appeal that runs throughout the long-awaited report from the Joint Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF), set up by Indonesia and Timor Leste.
Embroiled in controversy since its founding in 2005, the commission seems to say in its report: "Bear with us and read carefully. If you consider and try to implement our recommendations, all sides will eventually achieve justice, restored dignity and an end to a culture of violence and impunity."
For those who sympathize with the victims of violence in former East Timor, the initial reaction is to chuck the report out the window. As expected, the report has been criticized because it does not recommend prosecution, even though it claims Indonesian Military (TNI) commanders actually helped supply and distribute weapons to militias that supported integration with Indonesia, knowing full well what these weapons were for.
If these commanders did, in fact, bring such shame upon Indonesia, why not drag them to court and have our good name restored once and for all?
Instead, the commission stresses various avenues to "restorative justice", arguing this is the best way to heal the wounds of violent conflict. The commissioners cite studies from other countries where prosecution of human rights violations did not necessarily guarantee justice for victims.
The commission spent some two years collecting evidence, in near constant debate among its members -- including the Timorese who see themselves as the formerly "occupied", and those whom they would call former "occupiers", but who would vehemently refuse to be labeled as such.
The report is the result of political compromise. Could one realistically expect it to be entirely objective? Objective according to whom? Whether Indonesia occupied East Timor or not is not even explicitly explained, as the issue is conveniently beyond the commission's mandate.
The CTF was a highly pragmatic concept, encouraged by Timor Leste's elite, who knew they would long depend on other nations, particularly their biggest neighbor.
However, instead of throwing away the commission's work, it would be better if everyone studied the report's contents and began working on its recommendations.
After all, it's a start.
At the official handover of the report in Nusa Dua, Bali, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono went so far as to express "deep remorse" over the violence that occurred before and after the 1999 referendum leading to East Timor's independence.
The government has yet to extend an apology, as the commission recommended.
In accepting the report, Indonesia effectively acknowledged the commission's findings, including that gross human rights violations did occur and yes, the government and its state institutions, such as the Indonesian Military, were responsible.
When have we heard that before?
In 1999, then TNI commander Gen. Wiranto apologized for abuses committed in Aceh province during a counterinsurgency operation. But no one asked what such an apology entails -- considering that it came 10 years after the fact and that military operations resumed a few years later.
This week, after some 25 years of waiting, Indonesia's national human rights body could only begin to reveal the nature of its investigations into the extrajudicial killing of supposedly hardened criminals during Soeharto's regime -- never mind the scores of political dissenters and those misidentified found dead in the gutters.
Many Indonesians bristled upon learning of the commission's report.
What? We were responsible? We have to apologize? For what?!
For trying to secure a referendum for the ungrateful Timorese? For losing part of the unitary republic of Indonesia -- part of our sacred heritage -- to them? For earning a bad name for ourselves internationally?
What we don't hear is a sigh of relief, even a slight one.
Could this, the first ever acknowledgment of the Indonesian state's responsibility in destroying and murdering, etc., eventually lead to others?
In our lifetime, could the Indonesian state possibly admit responsibility for kidnapping, torturing and killing citizens?
Or for turning a blind eye to riots and rape, citing "a transitional period" and "a weak civilian government" (as the CTF report says)?
For missing children and spouses, still awaited by parents and wives?
For continued impunity that enabled the assassination of activist Munir?
Two things have emerged from the historic CTF report. The first, obviously, is an attempt to heal the victims' wounds and "to improve already good bilateral ties" between the two highly pragmatic governments.
The second, however, is a window into the entire experience of the New Order, which involved harsh measures enacted by the military and other state institutions against the entire civilian populace, not just the East Timorese.
Sure, not all of us suffered -- just a select few million, those stubborn and stupid enough to resist and defy the benevolent authoritarian regime, which received nothing but praise from the international community.
In East Timor's case, of course, some got the carrot, but a whole lot more got the stick.
So, while the national rights body is being closely watched by the fuming military to see what gets uncovered next, we can focus on what the CTF has come up with. The first step in our history lesson regarding the present Timor Leste: the commission's recommendations for an official apology, as well as reforms aimed at ending the "culture of violence" and engendering a "culture of accountability".
Doesn't that sound wonderful? Wouldn't these things make us proud to be Indonesian?
Among other gains, we would have a professional military and police force whose job would be protecting our fellow citizens, instead of using them for target practice or the source of projects to fatten budgets.
The report is the latest, best thing we have to start with, aside from attempts at reform that keep getting quashed by vested interests.
So, following up on the report is not merely a way to patch things up with Timor Leste.
It's also a chance to save ourselves.
Our children will take state accountability for granted, as their constitutional right.
And our grandchildren will only hear from history lessons of an unchecked regime that gave away so much power to the military and police that, even when it wanted to, it could nothing to stop their wanton, evil show of force.
The author is a staff writer at The Jakarta Post.
The Jakarta Post
Friday, July 18, 2008
After the CTF report: Where to next?
Imanuddin Razak, Jakarta
The release of a report by the joint Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) on Tuesday has drawn mixed reactions, both at home and abroad.
All parties, with varying degrees of acceptance and satisfaction, said they would accept the report's findings and the position taken by the bilateral commission in its conclusions and recommendations.
Yet critics condemned the subsequent failure of both governments -- especially the Indonesians -- to apologize as recommended by the report, and instead merely express regret over the atrocities which transpired before, during and after the 1999 East Timor independence referendum.
The CTF report concluded gross human rights violations took place in East Timor in 1999, including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, illegal detentions and the forcible transfer and deportation of civilians.
It also concluded pro-autonomy (pro-Indonesia) militia groups, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the Indonesian government and the Indonesian Police (Polri) were responsible for rights violations against civilians they perceived as supporting the pro-independence cause.
The question now is where does the public go from here, having contemplated the essence of the commission's two-and-a-half-year-long inquiry?
Some elements of the general public, primarily legal and rights activists, are still unable to condone the fact both the Indonesian and Timor Leste administrations have accepted the commission's report and have agreed to consider it the closing chapter on what occurred during the period, in a bid to heal the wounds of the victims and lay a foundation for stronger relations between the two neighbors.
They disagreed with several parts of the commission's report which said pro-autonomy militia, military, police and government leaders bore "institutional responsibility" for all the violations. They called for the opening (or reopening) of investigations into the alleged perpetrators in the 1999 mayhem, after a series of legal cases failed to satisfy human rights groups and the international community because all of the suspects were eventually acquitted.
It is true the report's recognition of institutional responsibility means the perpetrators of the violence can be brought to justice. And that is what the Indonesian government should do by facilitating fair and transparent prosecutions into the 1999 East Timor violence -- no matter the results. This will help restore the public's trust, both domestically and internationally, in the Indonesian judicial system.
A transparent prosecution at home will also help prevent the "internationalization" of the now bilateral legal and human rights case, with attempts underway to bring the case before international courts.
Such a prosecution, however, demands fair treatment and a thorough understanding of the 1999 East Timor mayhem itself as an issue that was driven by politics.
The report reads: "There were multiple causes of the conflict in 1999, which are complex and interrelated. Some of these causes doubtless go back to at least 1974 and the events ensuing from the end of the Portuguese colonial presence (in East Timor) ... The nature of the violence that occurred in 1999 was shaped by previous patterns of conflict."
Perhaps the international community still remembers the documents detailing conversations between then Indonesian president Soeharto and former U.S. president Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the months and days leading up to the Dec. 7, 1975, "invasion" of East Timor by TNI soldiers.
The documents, initially declared classified, were declassified 25 years after the incident. They included discussions between the three of the planned invasion, with Kissinger's suggestion on Dec. 6, 1975, that "it would be better if (the invasion) were done after we returned".
All the evidence therefore suggests and confirms the 1999 mayhem was indeed a complex, multilateral issue, involving high-level political decisions. Any subsequent legal proceedings should thus consider the fact the Indonesian government, including officials involved in the decision making, was not the only culprit behind the 1999 tragedy.
An international inquiry into the 1999 incident should include external evidence, such as the U.S. documents.
Also an item for consideration is the fact East Timor's 24-year involvement with Indonesia was not outright gloomy, with Indonesia providing funds and infrastructure sorely missing from the previous Portuguese occupation.
The international community should exercise its judgment when considering the consequences of such prosecutions, especially since the results may be beyond their expectations.
The author is a staff writer at The Jakarta Post.
The Jakarta Post Friday, July 18, 2008
Refugees skeptical over CTF report
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang
East Timorese refugees in East Nusa Tenggara have given a cold reception to the truth commission report over human rights abuses surrounding the 1999 referendum on the territory's independence.
The report by the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) says both Indonesian and East Timorese forces committed gross human rights abuses during the 1999 turmoil, but leaders of the two countries have agreed not to take the case to any courts of justice.
CTF submitted the report to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Ramos Horta in Bali on Tuesday.
"The report won't change anything as far as we're concerned," said Maria Gomes, a refugee in Betun, Belu regency. "What counts is that both countries have admitted wrongdoings and look forward to a better future."
Maria is one of an estimated 100,000 mostly pro-Indonesia East Timorese who fled to Indonesia's West Timor in the wake of the 1999 violence that left more than 1,000 people dead.
Maria, whose two children live in the Timor Leste (formerly East Timor) capital of Dili, said any worsening bilateral relations would take a toll on common people like herself.
She hoped leaders of both countries would pardon perpetrators of the rights violations.
"Why is it so hard to admit past mistakes and openly apologize?" she said.
But Florencio Mario Vieira, spokesman for the pro-Indonesia group Uni Timor Aswain, was of the opinion the report undermined the reconciliation process between pro-independence and pro-integration groups.
"Has Japan apologized to Indonesia for enslaving us during World War II? Why does the CTF lay the blame on Indonesia for the 1999 atrocities and not on the UN that triggered the mayhem?" asked Mario.
Many of the refugees, who live in poverty with no international aid, are indifferent about the report -- which has triggered controversy elsewhere.
"I don't care about the report," said Antonio de Sarmento, who lives at the Haliwen refugee camp in Atambua.
"I would rather make a living than talk about the past. My heart sinks any time I remember the atrocities. My brother was murdered by pro-independence vigilante and the incident has never been investigated."
Pro-Indonesia figures like Sarmento say they feel cheated by the United Nations Mission in East Timor, accusing it of manipulating the referendum results in favor of the pro-independence camp.
Eurico Gutteres, the only former pro-Indonesia militia leader jailed along with former East Timor governor Abilio Soares by an Indonesia ad hoc human rights court, was outraged at the CTF report.
"Will they (the Indonesian and Timor Leste governments) ever apologize to me or other East Timorese whose families were killed brutally?" he asked.
Gutteres, who chairs the East Nusa Tenggara provincial chapter National Mandate Party (PAN), urged the UN to investigate gross human rights violations committed by Fretilin, an East Timorese pro-independence group, between 1975 and 1999.
"Don't treat Indonesia as a scapegoat," he said.
Dominggos Pareira, deputy commander of the pro-Indonesia militia Aitarak and now living at a refugee camp in Atambua, said the CTF report opened old wounds.
"It can be dangerous," he said.
The Jakarta Post Thursday, July 17, 2008
World community should back RI on CTF report
The Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) on Tuesday submitted a report on the 1999 carnage in East Timor (now Timor Leste) to the presidents of the two countries. The report blamed the Indonesian government, military and police for gross human rights violations during the violence that destroyed East Timor before, during and after the 1999 independence vote. Although Indonesia accepted the report, it refused to launch legal action against the perpetrators. The Jakarta Post's Abdul Khalik talked to Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda after the report's submission in Nusa Dua, Bali, about possible international reactions.
Question: What makes Indonesia think the CTF report will solve the problem?
Answer: Actually, efforts and processes to obtain prosecutorial justice both in Timor Leste and Indonesia have not been totally absent since the violations took place.
We have an ad hoc human rights tribunal that tried those accused of perpetrating human rights violations in East Timor, while in Timor Leste they have the CAVR (Timor Leste fact-finding team) and, especially, the UN Special Crimes Unit that did the same.
So, to some degree, we have tried to seek justice. But whether we like it or not, the fact is this is unsatisfactory both in the eyes of the local and international community. There are problems with credibility and fairness. Thus, there are efforts to establish an international tribunal to retry the alleged perpetrators.
I think political transition in both Indonesia and Timor Leste when the emotion was still high played a key role in weakening the prosecutorial justice process in both countries during that time. In the end, prosecutorial justice could not solve the problems.
So, this is about choice. Not an easy one, but we have to make a choice. We decided together to solve the problems by establishing the CTF through a nonprosecutorial approach.
Gross human rights violations are crimes against humanity that could be tried internationally. Why do you think the bilateral agreement between Indonesia and Timor Leste will stop the international community from taking action to prosecute those involved in the violations?
We have to make a choice. Either we want to stay silent or do something. We decided to do something to heal wounds and then strengthen relations and friendship between our two nations.
In other words, we were forced to choose either peace or justice --- in this case prosecutorial justice. We chose peace.
At the international and bilateral levels we recognize there was a recommendation from the UN Commission of Experts that pushed for the establishment of an international human rights tribunal.
But we are the ones facing the problem so we -- Indonesia and Timor Leste -- will solve the problems between ourselves based on our own version.
Many have criticized that since the power relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste are unbalanced -- Indonesia is a much bigger and stronger country than Timor Leste -- Indonesia bullied its neighbor into complying with the establishment of the commission.
It's totally untrue. We are both sovereign countries which can make decisions based on our own interests. Leaders of both countries discussed this together and took that decision together. Timor Leste and Indonesia were very aware of the choice that we both took.
When I and (then Timor Leste foreign minister, now president) Pak Jose Ramos-Horta flew to New York to meet with the UN secretary-general and other leaders prior to the establishment of the CTF, it was not me who explained enthusiastically to those leaders about the need for us to solve our problems with our own methods, it was Pak Ramos-Horta.
So, there was no power play -- let alone bullying -- as Timor Leste also was every aware of the crucial ends the CTF would bring to it and to its bilateral relations with Indonesia.
Right from the time Timor Leste became an independent nation, we have showed our good intention to respect and support the young nation. This way, we can gain its trust and maintain close relations.
Also, when we wanted to directly apologize, as we know we need to, the Timor Leste leaders said they did not allow us.
How do you convince the international community to accept those arguments?
On Dec. 22, 2004, a week after leaders from both countries agreed to establish the CTF, I and Ramos-Horta went to New York to meet the UN secretary-general and to Washington to meet (then) U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell to explain our arguments.
We used the example of apartheid in South Africa. You see, if we compare apartheid and the East Timor mayhem in terms of scale, duration and victims, apartheid was larger in scale and much longer, and claimed many more lives.
But the international community could accept the solution taken by South Africa in the form of truth and reconciliation without prosecutorial justice, without others getting in the way.
So, what is the different here? We, both as sovereign states, decided to find the solution we thought was best for our own countries. We want the international community to understand and hopefully support our decision.
The Jakarta Post
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Hopes Slim to Try Timor Rights Abusers
Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Hopes of prosecuting those responsible for the 1999 violence in East Timor look slim after both Indonesia and Timor Leste refused to follow up on a truth commission report with legal measures.
This refusal was echoed by the House of Representatives, which also accepted the report and supported the government's decision to close any possibility of trying the alleged perpetrators in domestic and international courts.
"We don't want legal action anymore after this. We should focus on embracing better future relations," chairman of the House's Commission I on defense and foreign affairs Theo Sambuaga said Wednesday.
The Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) report blamed the Indonesian government, military and police for gross human rights violations in 1999 in then East Timor (now Timor Leste).
International law experts similarly expressed pessimism Wednesday over the possibility of trying Indonesian military and civilian officials involved.
Hikmahanto Juwana of the University of Indonesia said it was impossible for any party to use the CTF report as grounds to take legal action to permanent courts like the International Criminal Court (ICC) or an ad hoc tribunal like those in Rwanda or Yugoslavia.
"We can't use the ICC because the Timor Leste incidents occurred before the establishment of the ICC, and Indonesia has not ratified the Rome Statue," he said.
Trying the perpetrators through an ad hoc human rights court would also be difficult, he said, because it would require a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution.
Rudi Rizki, a legal expert at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, underscored the key roles of the government's support in the establishment of a tribunal court and difficulties in getting such a UNSC resolution to prosecute perpetrators.
"Getting a UNSC resolution will be very much on power plays at the Security Council," he said.
Due to international pressure, Indonesia established a rights tribunal in 2001 to try those accused of perpetrating the 1999 violence, which claimed over 1,000 lives before, during and after the independence vote in Timor Leste.
The court, which tried 18 military officers and civilians for the violence, failed to satisfy human rights groups and the international community as all of the suspects were eventually acquitted.
Timor Leste also tried to prosecute perpetrators through the UN-backed Serious Crime Unit (SCU) process. The SCU subsequently issued an arrest warrant for former Indonesian military chief Gen. Wiranto and other Indonesian generals.
However, then president Xanana Gusmao intervened and dropped Wiranto's name from the dossier.
Rudi warned that any of those involved in crimes against humanity could be arrested overseas when they left Indonesia.
"According to the universal jurisdiction principle, a country could try a citizen from other countries if he or she committed a crime against humanity, as when Spain captured (ex-Chile junta leader) Augusto Pinochet," he said.