Laureates Want Indon Generals To Face Tribunal
Associated Press December 10, 1999
Nobel Laureates Want Indonesian Generals To Face Tribunal
DILI, East Timor (AP)--East Timor's joint Nobel Peace Prize laureates Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta marked the third anniversary of their win by demanding a war crimes tribunal try top Indonesian army generals accused over the devastation of their homeland.
They both criticized Indonesia's new reformist government for saying it would not hand over any generals if a tribunal is set up.
The Indonesian military is widely accused of human rights abuses during 24 years of occupation of East Timor.
Many also allege that it sponsored and helped pro-Indonesian militiamen launch a campaign of terror and destruction that followed a landslide vote for independence in a U.N.-organized referendum on Aug. 30.
Ramos-Horta and Belo named the former head of army Gen. Wiranto as being ultimately responsible for the bloodshed and destruction in East Timor.
They also blamed other generals.
"You cannot - in this day and age at the end of the 20th century - plan and order the destruction of a whole country, the abduction of thousands of people, the killing, the rape, and get away with impunity," Ramos-Horta said of Wiranto.
"It would be an affront to humanity if Wiranto and the others retire peacefully as if nothing had happened.
"If Indonesia itself wishes to be considered a democracy, to gain international respect, they must bring to trial those Indonesians responsible for abuses in East Timor."
Recently, members of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry on East Timor and the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission visited East Timor and interviewed witnesses to the violence, but neither organization has directly called for a tribunal to be established.
Belo said their investigations would be wasted if they didn't do so.
Belo and Ramos-Horta were presented the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, which centered the international spotlight on the plight of the East Timorese under Indonesian rule.
Ramos-Horta said the awarding of the prize was a turning point in East Timor's long struggle for independence as it generated international pressure.
This in turn, he said, was the determining factor in a decision by President B.J. Habibie to shift in Indonesia's policy and allow the holding of a U.N.-sponsored ballot.
"So if it were not for the Nobel peace prize, which put Timor on the agenda all over the world, we wouldn't be here today. I am a 100% certain of that," Ramos-Horta said.
Meanwhile in Jakarta, Mulya Lubis, a member of Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights said the body would start questioning senior Indonesian generals in 10 days time.
He also said that the government had agreed to fly several militia leaders for questioning in Jakarta from Indonesian-held West Timor.
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