ETAN to Secretary of State Clinton: Commit the U.S. to work
for justice for U.S.-backed crimes in Timor-Leste
Contact: John M. Miller, +1-917-690-4391, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 5, 2012 - On the eve of her visit to Timor-Leste, the East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) urged Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton to commit the United States to support justice and
accountability for U.S.-backed crimes committed during Indonesia's 24-year
occupation of Timor-Leste.
U.S. engagement with Timor-Leste, but there is unfinished business between
our two nations. Secretary Clinton' should acknowledge and begin to make
amends for U.S. leading role in aiding and abetting Indonesia's brutal
takeover of Timor," Miller added. "At a minimum she should officially
receive the report of Timor-Leste's Truth,
Reception and Reconciliation Commission's (CAVR) and set a timetable for
a detailed U.S. response."
The CAVR called on countries like the United States that actively supported
Indonesia's illegal occupation to take specific actions.
ETAN urged the Obama administration to respond to the
recommendations of the CAVR, including its calls for an international
tribunal, reparations from countries that supported the occupation, and
restrictions on foreign assistance to the Indonesian military until it shows
that it is a rights-respecting institution.
We urge Secretary Clinton to acknowledge and respond to the recommendation
of Timor-Leste's truth commission. Those recommendations call for responses
from countries like the United States that actively supported Indonesia's
In a recent letter, the Timorese organization La’o Hamutuk
appealed to Secretary Clinton for help in “break[ing] the chain of
impunity that still prevails in Timor-Leste. Impunity exists because the
international community has forgotten its responsibility to establish an
International Tribunal to prosecute the actors involved in crimes against
humanity during the Indonesian occupation. Many of these actors are still
free and occupy powerful political positions in Jakarta.… [I]mpunity in
Timor-Leste provides opportunity and chance for Indonesian police and
military to continue their crimes and violate the rights” in
"The U.S. supported the Timor's
independence referendum in 1999, and since September 1999 Washington has
provided significant assistance to Timor-Leste, but such aid does not begin
to compensate the East Timorese people for the suffering wrought by the U.S.
support for the occupation,” said Miller.
On December 7, 1975, Indonesia launched its full-scale invasion of East
Timor only hours after U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger gave the green light to
the Indonesian dictator Suharto. The U.S. was the most important
supporter of Indonesia’s illegal attack and occupation. The U.S. supplied
90 percent of
the weapons used during the invasion. From President Ford to President
Clinton, successive U.S. administrations consistently backed Indonesia's
occupation, providing Jakarta diplomatic cover and billions of dollars in
weaponry, military training, and economic assistance.
The CAVR estimated that as many as 184,000 people died as a result, nearly
one-third of the pre-invasion population. Yet, no senior officials of any
country have been held accountable for the horrific human right violations
and war crimes that took place.
The CAVR's comprehensive 2,500-page report
recommended establishment of an international criminal tribunal should other
efforts fail. The CAVR urged "states that had military cooperation
programmes with the Indonesian Government... [to] apologise to the people of
Timor-Leste for failing to adequately uphold internationally agreed
fundamental rights," (1.6) and for Permanent Members of the Security
Council, particularly the U.S. ... who gave military backing to the
Indonesian Government between 1974 and 1999 [to] assist the Government of
Timor-Leste in the provision of reparations to victims of human rights
violations suffered during the Indonesian occupation.” (1.7) The CAVR urged
that "all States regulate military sales and cooperation with Indonesia more
effectively and make such support totally conditional on progress towards
full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law
and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human
rights, including respect for the right of self-determination." (1.10) Under
the Obama administration, military assistance to Indonesia has rapidly
Secretary Clinton is the first U.S. Secretary of State and the highest
ranking U.S. official to visit the country since independence.
ETAN was formed in reaction to
the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, when hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were
gunned down by Indonesian troops using U.S.-supplied weapons. The
20-year-old U.S.-based organization advocates for democracy, justice and
human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information see ETAN's
web site: http://www.etan.org.