UN and U.S. Must Commit to Justice for Timor after Indonesian
Court Acquits Officers, Says East Timor Action Network
For immediate release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668
August 6 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today urged the United
Nations and United States to guarantee real justice for East Timor
by establishing an international tribunal.
Responding to an Indonesian appeals court's acquittal of all
previously convicted Indonesian military and police officials for
violence in East Timor, ETAN spokesperson John M. Miller said "These
acquittals shouldn’t surprise anyone. Now that Indonesia's judicial
farce is in its final act, the United Nations must step in and
create an international tribunal with the resources and clout to
credibly prosecute the masterminds of the terror in East Timor."
Only two of the 18 defendants brought before Indonesia’s Ad Hoc
Human Rights Court on East Timor have been convicted and had their
sentences upheld under appeal. Both are East Timorese.
“More than four years after this sham court was established, the
question remains: When will the international community act?” asked
"Real pressure and real trials are the only ways to end impunity.
The U.S. administration and Congress must strengthen restrictions on
assistance to the Indonesian military until there is meaningful
justice," he added.
"The international community must fulfill its promises of justice
to the East Timorese people. The UN-backed serious crimes process in
Dili has issued a large number of highly-credible indictments of
senior Indonesian officials. They must not be allowed to rot in some
file drawer in Dili," Miller said.
”The crimes committed in 1999 and before were crimes against all
humanity. Many were directed at undermining a UN mission. We urge
the UN to heed East Timor's repeated request that the international
community take the lead in pursuing accountability."
”Many of the security officials and militia leaders involved in
East Timor continue to destroy lives. Only genuine accountability
will bring an end to the terror inflicted by the Indonesian military
throughout the archipelago," he added.
Spokespeople for ETAN are available for interviews.
ETAN works with civil society in East Timor and Indonesia in
calling for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against
humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975 (see www.etan.org).
Indonesia set up an ad hoc human rights court in early 2000 to
deflect calls for an international tribunal in response to the
Indonesian military's 1999 campaign of terror in East Timor. The
widely criticized court issued its final verdict on August 5, 2003.
While six of the 18 people tried were convicted, only the
convictions of the two East Timorese on trial have been upheld.
In 1999, prior to and after East Timor's overwhelming vote for
independence, the Indonesian military and its militia proxies killed
more than 1400 people, displaced three-quarters of the population
and destroyed more than 75% of East Timor's infrastructure.
In the months following this devastation, two UN investigations
called for the establishment of an international tribunal.
East Timorese leaders, fearful of possible retaliation and
stressing the need to establish good relations with their powerful
neighbor Indonesia, 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.
The Security Council mandated the establishment of the Serious
Crimes Unit to conduct investigations and prepare indictments to
assist in bringing to justice those responsible for crimes against
humanity and other serious crimes committed in East Timor in 1999.
It also created the Special Panels to hear serous crimes cases.
The SCU has filed 83 indictments accusing 373 individuals.
Charges are currently pending against a total of 313 accused; 279 of
these remain at large in Indonesia, including former military
commander and recent presidential candidate General Wiranto. Only
ethnic East Timorese have been convicted or jailed so far. In its
final extension of the UN peacekeeping mission, the Security Council
called for phasing out the serious crimes process by May 2005.
No special judicial process has been set up to investigate and
prosecute those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity during the bulk of Indonesia's illegal invasion and
occupation of East Timor prior to 1999, when the Indonesian military
was responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 people,
one-third of the population.
Last month, 78 members of Congress wrote
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging him to appoint a
commission of experts to evaluate existing justice processes and "to
carefully consider recommending an international tribunal on East
Timor if it finds that current processes have not achieved justice.”
This month 65 members of the House of
Representatives urged U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to
reconsider resumption of the Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD) with
Indonesia, because its military “has successfully evaded
accountability for its well-documented crimes against humanity and
war crimes in East Timor.”
While standing in a churchyard in Liquica in February 2000, the
site of one of the most notorious 1999 massacres in East Timor, the
UN Secretary-General called for "justice to prevail over impunity."
Take action - fax the
U.S. Ambassador to the UN!
& Justice page
U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page