ETAN Praises Placement of Indonesian
War Criminals on State Department Watch List
Calls for Additional Steps to Achieve Justice
Contact: John M. Miller,
For Immediate Release
January 20, 2004 - The East Timor
Action Network (ETAN) today praised the U.S. State Department
for placing senior Indonesian military officials on its
visa watch list. The group, however, emphasized that this step was
only an initial one in the pursuit of justice for crimes against
humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor since Indonesia’s
“The denial of visas to General Wiranto and other senior military
(TNI) officials is an important first step, but the U.S. can do much
more to promote justice for the people of East Timor,” said John M.
Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. “The U.S. must work with the UN
Security Council to establish an international tribunal for East
Timor. Only a tribunal would have the resources and political weight
to properly try and punish those responsible for genocide and other
grave crimes,” said Miller.
“The Bush administration must also cease all assistance for the
Indonesian military, the institution most responsible for these
crimes in East Timor,” continued Miller.
“The State Department should add to its visa watch list all of
the nearly 300 people indicted in East Timor who have been given
sanctuary in Indonesia and should encourage other nations to do the
same ,” he said.
“We also urge President Bush to expeditiously release U.S.
government documents requested nearly a year ago by East Timor’s
Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation,” said Miller. “A
full accounting of United States knowledge and actions during
Indonesia’s brutal occupation is an essential step towards justice
and U.S. accountability for the military and political support it
gave Indonesia during the occupation.”
In a January 24, 2003 letter, the Commission asked for U.S.
government documents on significant events and egregious human
rights abuses that took place during Indonesia’s occupation.
ETAN supports human dignity for the people of East Timor by
advocating for democracy, economic justice and human rights,
including women’s rights.
Since 1999, ETAN has joined with East Timorese civil society to
urge the UN Security Council to establish an international tribunal.
For additional information, see ETAN’s web site (http://www.etan.org).
Those believed to be
on State Department’s watch list were
indicted for crimes against humanity on February 24, 2003,
by the joint UN-East Timor Special Crimes Unit (SCU) in Dili. In
addition to General Wiranto, a leading presidential candidate in
Indonesia, others thought to be on the list are General Zacky Anwar
Makarim, Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, General Adam Damiri, Colonel
Tono Suratman, Colonel Mohammad Noer Muis,
Lt. Col. Yayat Sudrajat, and
former East Timorese Governor Abilio Jose Osorio
SCU has filed 81 indictments so far accusing 37 Indonesian
military (TNI) commanders and officers, four Indonesian police
chiefs, 65 East Timorese TNI officers and soldiers, and East Timor’s
former governor. At present, 281 of the 369 indicted by the SCU
remain at large in Indonesia. Among those indicted by the SCU are
Timbul Silaen and East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres.
Silaen, the chief of police in 1999, is now performing the same
function in Papua, where, with the assistance of Guterres, he is
allegedly assisting in efforts to form militia.
East Timor’s National Alliance for an
International Tribunal recently called for strengthening the
serious crimes process in East Timor, until an international
tribunal is established. The UN is currently evaluating its options
for when the current peacekeeping mission ends in May 2004. The
alliance urged the UN to back the [SCU] “mandate with resources and
political commitment to compel Indonesia to cooperate.” Without such
backing, the Alliance called the SCU process a “cruel charade” which
provides “an excuse for East Timor’s government and the
international community to avoid meaningful action for justice.”
During its illegal occupation of the island nation from 1975 to
1999, the Indonesian military was responsible for the deaths of more
than 200,000 people, one-third of the population. The U.S. supplied
over $1 billion in weapons and training from the time of the
invasion through 1991. The Bush administration is pressing to
restore much of the assistance cut since 1991.
After the East Timorese people voted for independence in 1999,
the Indonesian military retaliated by killing more than 1300 people,
raping hundreds of women and girls, and destroying most of the
country’s infrastructure. In the months following 1999’s
devastation, two UN bodies called for the establishment of an
international tribunal. Instead, Indonesia promised to try its own
and eventually established the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for East
widely-criticized court issued its final verdict on August 5. Of
the 18 people tried, 12 were acquitted. General Damiri was convicted
by the court, but received a sentence of three years, far less than
the legal minimum sentence. He remains free pending appeal and is
currently helping to direct the massive military campaign in Aceh.
General Suratman was acquitted.
East Timorese leaders, stressing the need to establish good
relations with their powerful neighbor, have repeatedly urged the
international community to take the lead on issues of accountability
for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.
Details about those banned and other significant figures involved
in the 1999 violence can be found at
Rights & Justice pages