Subject: ETHRC Bi-Annual Report: Executive Summary
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 11:07:41 -1000
From: ethrc <ethrc@minihub.org>

EAST TIMOR HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE

"HUMAN RIGHTS IN EAST TIMOR: INDONESIA DEFIES UN & INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY" Bi-Annual Report of Human Rights Violations in East Timor January to June 1999 August 13, 1999 Ref: SR 1/99

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The first half of 1999 has seen an alarming escalation of human rights violations in East Timor. Two major changes in the political climate in East Timor have been met with increased human rights violations against East Timorese civilians. The first major political event was President Habibie's January 27 commitment to allow the East Timorese people to vote on an autonomy package. The second event was the signing of the UN Accords on May 5 for the UN to conduct a popular consultation to determine the will of the East Timorese people. Despite the raised hopes of a peaceful solution to the East Timor conflict, there is a serious security crisis on the eve of the referendum.

During this period most of the human rights violations have been at the hands of pro-Indonesian militia groups which are supported by the Indonesian army. ETHRC sources have confirmed that the militias are not acting on their own volition and that the militia groups are being recruited and trained by the Indonesian army. This worrying trend of the recruitment of militias for the purposes of perpetrating violence and intimidation against civilians has been well documented by the ETHRC.

One of the most alarming atrocities documented by the ETHRC during the first six months of 1999 was the early April Liquica massacre where at least 46 civilians were extra-judicially executed and 56 people were seriously injured. This was the first time that killings on such a massive scale had taken place within a parish. On 5 May, after signing the UN Accords, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, warned Indonesia of its obligations to protect the people of East Timor and to effectively carry out its responsibility for law and order and the protection of all civilians.

Thus far, Indonesia has failed in its obligations to protect civilians. It has also failed to protect humanitarian relief workers and UN personnel from attacks by the militias backed by the Indonesian army. The lack of security in East Timor, at present, is seriously threatening the right of East Timorese to self determination. The ETHRC condemned the appointment of Eurico Guterres to command PAM Swakarsa (the security force overseeing the UN ballot). This move clearly implicates the Indonesian government in the on-going attempts to sabotage the referendum as Eurico Guterres is the commander of the Aitarak militia responsible for grave human rights abuses in East Timor.

The ETHRC is also concerned with the alarming trend of the increase in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) living in life-threatening conditions. Militia violence and intimidation directed at civilian villagers has left tens of thousands of people homeless after their properties and livelihoods were destroyed. This pervasive climate of intimidation and human rights violations diminishes the opportunity for civilians in East Timor to exercise their right to register and vote which was guaranteed by Indonesia under the UN Accords.

While the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission to East Timor (UNAMET) has been positive in maintaining a semblance of peace in some places of East Timor, other diplomatic pronouncements by foreign governments have done little to make Indonesia comply with its international obligations. The Indonesian army and other perpetrators of human rights violations in East Timor are still acting with impunity. Indonesia has defied the UN and the international community.


Contact the ETHRC at ethrc@minihub.org to obtain a copy of the report. The hard copy is approximately 60 pages long and includes some photographs of victims of recent human rights violations.

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