Solidarity message on KontraS 8th anniversary
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) of the
United States would like to extend its congratulations and deep
gratitude to KONTRAS, the Commission for Disappearance and Victims
of Violence, on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of its
founding. Since 1998, KONTRAS has been a leading and inspiring force
for democracy and human rights in Indonesia.
Shortly after the birth of
delegates from ETAN met with KONTRAS in Jakarta. It was at this time
that ETAN first made contact with Munir, one of the foremost
advocates of human rights in Indonesia and, indeed, all of Asia.
Following that first meeting, ETAN relied heavily on KONTRAS'
courageous work in East Timor in documenting the TNI's brutality
against the civilian population in the occupied country in 1998 and
1999. As ETAN's work has evolved to increasingly include matters of
human rights and democracy in Indonesia, we have continued to rely
on KONTRAS for its investigations and advocacy. ETAN activists have
met with KONTRAS in Aceh, for example, and have found its support
and guidance to be invaluable to our organization's efforts to
understand better the human rights situation in violence-afflicted
areas. At the same time, KONTRAS' continuing work on East
Timor--specifically its monitoring of the ad-hoc trials in Jakarta
and its role in exposing them as a hollow exercise in public
relations--has been extremely beneficial.
East Timor is now free of Indonesia's military occupation, and
significant democratic space has opened in Indonesia. Nonetheless,
the murder of Munir--whose spirit will always remain in our hearts,
the lack of full accountability for that crime, and efforts to
silence KONTRAS and other human rights advocates through frivolous
libel suits show how incomplete the democratic opening is and how
far some will go to maintain the institutionalized impunity enjoyed
by Indonesia's military and political establishment. At the same
time, the ongoing state-perpetrated violence in West Papua and
elsewhere and the complete failure of the Indonesian government to
hold the TNI and political leaders accountable for their crimes
demonstrate the desperate need for KONTRAS to continue and intensify
its work. For such reasons and more, please know that you have the
support of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network.
We look forward to working with you for many years to come in the
struggle to protect human rights and bring about greater levels of
democracy and accountability in Indonesia, and to create a U.S.
foreign policy fully supportive of these goals.
Please accept our deep gratitude for your work and commitment.
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)