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East Timor and Indonesia Action Network on attacks on the President and Prime Minister of Timor-Leste

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

Feb. 11, 2008 -- The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) condemns Monday's violent attacks on the President and Prime Minister of Timor-Leste. We wish President Ramos-Horta a speedy and full recovery from his wounds and a quick return to the duties he was elected to carry out. We deeply regret the loss of life. The people of Timor-Leste have experienced far too much violence throughout their history. The pursuit of political goals through violence is unacceptable and must be rejected. We urge that all reactions to these events be peaceful.

We regret that Major Alfredo Reinado and his followers were allowed to remain free for so long. It is puzzling to us that some in Timor-Leste view him as a heroic figure. His use of force during the crisis in May 2006 and subsequent threats to use force should have been condemned and rejected by all. These threats were carried out Monday morning with tragic consequences.

Justice and accountability are lacking for far too many recent and past crimes in East Timor. Yesterday's events occurred, in part, because the rule of law remains weak. Major Reinado, who was indicted for murder for his actions in 2006, should have been brought to justice long before this attack. Too many in today's Timor-Leste operate with a sense of impunity, believing that they will not be held accountable for violent crimes which destabilize and further traumatize the country's population.  This sense of impunity is only reinforced by the failure of the UN, U.S., Indonesia, Timor Leste and the rest of the international community to achieve accountability for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor between 1975 and 1999.


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