ETAN Statement on Fifth Anniversary of East Timorís Independence
For immediate release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391;
August 30, 2004
Five years ago today, the people of East Timor defying intense
intimidation from the Indonesian security forces and their militia
proxies voted overwhelmingly for independence, We celebrated that
historic vote. Outraged, we mobilized as Indonesia capped over two
decades of murder and mayhem by systematically destroying the
country. Today, the scars of that destruction remain visible and
more than two years after independence, East Timorís freedom
struggle remains far from complete.
Five years later, the East Timorese people still crave justice
and full control over their natural resources, and the Indonesian
military continues to act with impunity.
Last week, the
UN Secretary General told the Security Council that ďthose
responsible for the serious crimes committed in 1999 must be held to
account, and it is essential that justice is seen to be done in
these cases.Ē The recent acquittals on appeal of Indonesian security
officials further exposed Indonesiaís ad hoc courtís prosecutions as
a sham, and international pledges of justice remain unfulfilled.
The violence in 1999 was a systematic assault not only on the
East Timorese people, but on a UN mission. The UN must to heed East
Timorís call for the international community to take the lead on
issues of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity
by setting up an international tribunal. This tribunal must have the
resources and clout to credibly prosecute the top Indonesian
officials responsible for organizing the most brutal and heinous
crimes against the people of East Timor, beginning with Indonesiaís
invasion on December 7, 1975.
We urge the Australian government to respect the sovereignty and
resource rights of East Timor by promptly and fairly negotiating the
maritime boundary between the two countries. Resource sharing
agreements, while providing the new nation with much needed funds,
are not a substitute for recognition of East Timorís rights.
Australia should return the more than US$1 billion they have stolen
so far from oil fields that are twice as close to their impoverished
neighbor. East Timor should not have to share what rightfully
belongs to it.
We call attention to the U.S. role during the 1999 and throughout
the illegal Indonesian military occupation of East Timor. A full
accounting of the U.S. governmentís knowledge and actions during the
occupation is essential if future crimes are to be prevented. In
mixed signals from the Clinton administration encouraged
Indonesiaís campaign of terror. In early September, when the U.S.
unambiguously cut-off its military, Indonesia quickly agreed to
honor the vote and to withdraw.
In Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere, the Indonesian military
continues to use the same brutal tactics, often directed by the same
commanders, it refined in East Timor. The Bush administration's
current efforts to step up training and other assistance to
Indonesia's security forces has only encouraged more violations and
legitimized continued impunity throughout the archipelago.
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