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East Timor Action Network Publishes Text of Suppressed UN Report on 1999 Destruction 

Crimes Against Humanity Were a Planned Indonesian Military Operation, Report Says

For Immediate Release 
April 25, 2001

John M. Miller, (718)596-7668; 
(917)690-4391 (mobile)

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) today published the full text of a United Nations-commissioned report on Indonesian military (TNI) crimes against humanity in East Timor. The report is now available on the internet at

The document, "Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor, January to October 1999: Their Nature and Causes," was written by former Australian diplomat James Dunn, an independent consultant to the Chief Prosecutor for the UN Transitional Administration in East Timorís (UNTAET). ETAN obtained the report from a source associated with the United Nations.

UNTAET officials do not plan to release the report, which was submitted to them in mid-February. It names some of the key Indonesian commanders most directly involved in planning and implementing the violence surrounding East Timor's UN-organized independence referendum in 1999. A UN spokesperson has said that the UN is not releasing the report out of concern that it will hinder negotiations with Indonesia.

"We believe it is crucial that those responsible for East Timor's destruction be held accountable," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "Prosecution of the Indonesian military officers responsible is necessary both for East Timor's future security and Indonesia's transition to democracy. Open discussion of the report's findings best serves all involved -- the UN, the Indonesian government and people, and the people of East Timor."

The report concludes "the campaign of massive destruction, deportation and killings in September [1999] was essentially an operation planned and carried out by the TNI, with militia participation, to punish the people of East Timor for their vote against integration."

"An international tribunal is needed if the East Timorese are to see justice for the crimes committed against them. As of now, no Indonesian military officers have been indicted, much less tried for the crimes recounted in Dunn's report," said Miller.

"Justice cannot be served in Indonesian courts because many East Timorese are too traumatized to travel to Indonesia to testify. Also, the military command has consistently blocked UN investigations, refusing to extradite suspects or even to allow them to be questioned. In fact, many of the officers named in the report maintain positions of authority in the TNI," he added.

After numerous delays, the Indonesian government recently authorized an ad hoc human rights court on East Timor. But the court itself has not been set up, and its mandate is restricted to "gross human rights violations that occurred in East Timor after the self-determination vote" of August 30, 1999, precluding prosecution for numerous crimes committed before that date.

"Any Indonesian trials are fraught with so many legal, practical and political problems that any convictions of high-ranking officers are extremely unlikely," said Miller.

East Timorese Nobel peace laureate Bishop Belo and the NGO Forum of East Timor both recently reiterated their support for a tribunal. "Justice must not be restricted to a chosen few. It must be universal," Belo said in an April 16 speech in Sydney, Australia.

Arsenio Bano, the executive director of NGO Forum, asked, "If the perpetrators of crimes against humanity cannot be brought before an International Court, then where are they going to be tried?"

Although many charge the militias with responsibility for the "the reign of terror" in East Timor during 1999, Dunn writes that "their actions flowed from the command involvement of TNI officers, sometimes from direct orders, or from the provision of military training, weapons, money and, according to militia members, drugs."

The report reviews systematic human rights abuses by the Indonesian military from Indonesia's 1975' invasion of East Timor on, providing a context for the destruction before and after the 1999 vote. "It is important that this pattern of behaviour on the part of the Indonesian military be taken into account when judging the events of 1999," Dunn writes.

Dunn recommends that investigations be "stepped up," focusing on the role of TNI commanders with a "view to laying charges," and that "In the event that no progress is made in Indonesia towards bringing to justice those responsible... immediate steps should be taken to negotiate the setting up of an international tribunal for this purpose." The report also calls for "a thorough investigation of what transpired and of who was responsible for crimes committed in East Timor" since 1975 and opening negotiations with Indonesia on reparations for "the massive destruction... and organised theft of property" in East Timor. "Its development was in effect set back more than a generation," Dunn writes.

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. was founded following the November 1991 massacre. ETAN supports a genuine and peaceful transition to an independent East Timor. ETAN has 27 local chapters throughout the U.S.


Associated Press 
April 23, 2001

Nobel Laureate Appeals For East Timor Tribunal

SYDNEY (AP)--Nobel peace laureate Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor appealed Monday for an international tribunal to punish crimes against humanity in his country and help the fledgling nation come to terms with atrocities committed after it voted for independence from Indonesia.

Belo said the United Nations should set up an international court similar to those already meting out justice for atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

"Justice must not be restricted to a chosen few. It must be universal," he said in a speech in Sydney.

Belo said the East Timorese did not trust investigations launched in Jakarta into atrocities sparked by the former Indonesian province's vote for independence in August 1999.

Hundreds of people were killed and an estimated 80% of East Timor's infrastructure was destroyed by pro-Indonesian militia gangs and troops following the popular vote that ended 24 years of rule by Jakarta.

U.N. staff are already investigating the atrocities and are expected to indict as many as 400 suspects, including some top Indonesian military officers.

The Indonesian probe was launched under a U.N. directive to prosecute members of its military and civil administration for their roles in the blood bath or face the possible establishment of a U.N. tribunal.

Indonesia's attorney general's office has prepared a list of 23 potential suspects. However, no formal charges have been filed.

"We have no faith in the investigations being conducted in Jakarta. Those who authorized the crimes in East Timor will not face justice there," Belo said.

"It is our belief that only an international court will be able to prosecute the generals and commanders who were behind the September 1999 violence. It is clear that what happened in East Timor was not a spontaneous response by Timorese who wanted to stay with Indonesia."

Last week, a former Australian diplomat, James Dunn, handed a report to U.N. investigators accusing senior Indonesian army generals of masterminding the violence, but U.N. officials distanced themselves from its findings, parts of which were published in Australia.

"It is his own report and reflects his own views," said U.N. chief prosecutor Mohamed Othman.

Belo, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow East Timorese independence campaigner Jose Ramos Horta, said his tiny nation needed justice to help it move forward.

"While we believe in and promote reconciliation, the people of East Timor are crying out for justice against the perpetrators of the horrendous crimes committed during Indonesian occupation. Without justice, the brokenness continues," he said.


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