Subject: Petitions urging truth and reconciliation handed to E Timorese
4 Dec 2009
Petitions urging truth and reconciliation handed to East Timorese parliament
Four years after a pivotal report into atrocities committed in East Timor was received by the East Timorese parliament, NGOs have delivered hundreds of copies of a widely-backed petition calling for its recommendations to be implemented to the President of the country’s national parliament.
The petitions which contain the signatures of thousands of East Timorese alongside those of citizens from another 23 countries were handed to the President of East Timor’s National Parliament in Dili, H.E. Fernando Lasama, on 28 November.
The signatories call on the parliament “to give urgent priority to discussion and implementation of the recommendations in Chega! in the near future.”
The Chega! Report (Portuguese for ‘stop, no more!’) documents the work, findings and recommendations of the independent Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) which began work in 2002.
The Commission was set up to investigate human rights violations committed on all sides during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor between April 1974 and October 1999. An estimated 100,000 people lost their lives during more than a quarter-century of violence and unrest.
Although the East Timorese parliament has had 4 years to examine the report, it has not yet debated its contents or recommendations. A “failure to respond to Chega! reflects negatively on the Parliament”, the text of the petition notes, adding that the implementation of the report’s recommendations is “important to victims and the building of the East Timorese nation”.
Dr Steve Kibble, Progressio’s Advocacy Coordinator for Asia said: “It is vital that the East Timorese parliament recognises the desire of many of its citizens, and many people around the world, to see justice done for the catalogue of crimes committed during Indonesian occupation. We urge the East Timorese parliament to discuss Chega! at the earliest possible opportunity. Only once this has been done can the people of this young nation begin to move forward with their lives.”
Progressio has been calling for justice in East Timor for many years. In 2008, its East Timor: Who Cares? campaign urged the UK government to provide financial and technical support for a justice centre in the East Timorese capital to promote accountability for past crimes.
In a letter to Progressio in April 2009, the British Ambassador to East Timor, Martin Hatfull said Britain felt “it was important for the East Timorese parliament to debate…the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation [CAVR Chega! report] as part of the process of establishing accountability.”