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East Timor Action Network Urges New Indonesian President to Show Support for East Timor 

Calls for Crackdown on Militia, Establishment of an International Tribunal

For Immediate Release

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

July 23 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) warned today that past actions of new Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri suggested that her rule could adversely affect East Timor. ETAN urged her to begin her presidency by addressing the worsening refugee crisis in West Timor and supporting an international tribunal for East Timor. ETAN urged her to act swiftly to disarm and disband militia now destabilizing East Timor and controlling East Timorese refugees in Indonesia. To support the rule of law in Indonesia during this transitional time, the United Nations must act to establish an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity committed in East Timor and the Bush administration in the U.S. must maintain the current suspension of military ties with Indonesia, ETAN said.

“Megawati has close ties to the Indonesian military and has repeatedly expressed her disagreement with the process that lead to East Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence in 1999. She must now demonstrate genuine respect for human rights and accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the armed forces,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.

"She must act now to dismantle the military-supported militia in West Timor and agree to an international tribunal on East Timor," continued Miller. "These steps would do a lot to reassure the international community and the people of East Timor that she does not bear ill-will toward its neighbor."

Megawati has yet to express any sympathy with East Timorese for the gross human rights committed by the Indonesian military during its occupation of East Timor. She has refused to meet with East Timorese leaders or the United Nations which is currently administering the territory.

“Given the Indonesian military’s continued political power and its ties to Megawati, the international community must recognize that Indonesia is not capable of prosecuting the Indonesian military and political leaders responsible for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 onwards,” said Miller. "We urge members of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council to take the steps necessary to establish an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor."

“It is vital that the U.S. maintain its suspension of military ties with Indonesia. Renewal of ties would send the worst possible signal,” said Miller. “Any re-engagement with the military at this time would severely undercut reform efforts.”

Megawati Sukarnoputri's political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, includes notorious East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres as a leader of its youth wing. A recent meeting of the party also included representatives from East Timor, indicating the party did not recognize East Timor as a country separate from Indonesia.

Up to 80,000 East Timorese refugees remain trapped in poor conditions in Indonesian West Timor under the control of militias backed by elements of the Indonesian military. No Indonesian security forces personnel have been held accountable for crimes committed in East Timor before or after the referendum. In a report issued January 30, 2000, an international commission of inquiry of the UN Commission on Human Rights recommended establishing an international human rights tribunal for East Timor.

On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-conducted referendum, ending a 24 year-long occupation by Indonesia. Immediately following the ballot, the Indonesian military and its militia proxies conducted a month-long scorched earth campaign in East Timor. The same legislature that just appointed Megawati to Indonesia's presidency and removed her predecessor voted in October 1999 to accept the results of East Timor's vote for independence.

In early September 1999, the U.S. suspended military assistance to Indonesia. In November 1999, the U.S. Congress passed the “Leahy conditions” which mandate that, prior to resuming the bulk of military support, the East Timorese refugees must be able to safely return home, military and militia must be prosecuted for atrocities in East Timor and Indonesia, and East Timor's security must not be compromised by military or militia activity. None of these conditions have yet to be met.

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights, including women's rights. ETAN has 28 local chapters. For additional information see ETAN's web site (


Media Release

For Immediate Release Contact: 
Megan Walsh (202) 544-1211 or Lynn Fredriksson (202) 546-0044

Indonesia Human Rights Network Urges New Indonesian President to Curtail Military and Police Abuses

July 23, 2001-- The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) today called on Megawati Sukarnoputri to halt a crackdown by Indonesian security forces on human rights activists and other civilians in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere in the archipelago. Megawati was appointed President of Indonesia on Monday morning, following the impeachment of Abdurrahman Wahid in a Special Session of the Indonesian parliament. "We urge all Indonesian forces-police and military-to refrain from violent action during this potentially volatile transition," said Megan Walsh for IHRN.

So far today Jakarta has remained relatively calm, as Wahid (known as Gus Dur) refused to leave the presidential mansion. But military and police operations have been escalating throughout Indonesia for weeks. In Aceh security forces have pitted minority Gayos people against Javanese transmigrants; they are responsible for massacres, house burnings, and the displacement of thousands in Central Aceh. In West Papua, BRIMOB mobile police and Kopassus special forces have been carrying out massive "sweeps" against civilians, arresting dozens and displacing thousands.

"In this political climate activists in Jakarta fear the security forces could target them too. Human rights advocates in Aceh and West Papua, already under attack, fear an even worse clampdown," said Lynn Fredriksson, Co-founder of IHRN. "It's been weeks of intensified raids, arrests and beatings in Aceh, targeting prominent human rights organizations. As a show of good will, President Megawati Sukarnoputri should immediately stop these atrocities by ordering police and military to desist. Nothing could do more to stabilize Indonesia."

In other areas of Indonesia, police and military frequently condone militia violence, as in Maluku where they fuel Christian-Muslim conflict. In West Timor, militias acting as military proxies still control the fate of tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees.

"The Indonesia Human Rights Network urges Megawati to do everything in her power to put an end to military and police violence, and to work to establish a judiciary with the authority, capacity and support to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice," said Walsh. "In order to prevent further violations, Megawati should act quickly to open access to conflict areas throughout Indonesia to international human rights and humanitarian workers, and the press. She should invite in UN special rapporteurs."

The United States has withheld most assistance from the Indonesian military since it leveled East Timor, with militia proxies, in September 1999. Most U.S. military assistance is now restricted by what are known as the "Leahy conditions." None of these conditions has been met.

"IHRN urges the U.S. government to uphold its commitment to genuine reform by maintaining all current restrictions on military assistance and refraining from police assistance to Indonesia until the most basic human rights of people throughout the archipelago are respected," said Fredriksson.

The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN seeks to end armed forces repression in Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society.

IHRN members and advisors are available for interviews.

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Indonesia: Megawati opens party conference in Jakarta

BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; 
Jul 13, 2001

Jakarta: PDIP leader Megawati Soekarnoputri yesterday (12 July) evening opened a national meeting of the party, to run [at the Hotel Aryaduta, Central Jakarta] until 14 July...

Detikcom noted that all regional senior office-holders of the party from across Indonesia attended -a total of 115 officials, including East Timor branch members [as received]...

Source: Detikcom web site, Jakarta, in Indonesian 13 Jul 01




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