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ETAN Action Alert

As Jakarta Trials End, U.S. Must Support Real Justice for East Timor!

Call Congress Today, Urge U.S. to Raise Issue at UN Human Rights Meeting

Please call your Representative today and ask her/him to sign a Congressional Dear Colleague letter calling for an international tribunal for East Timor. The letter is being circulated now by the offices of Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

The letter will only be circulated until April 8 thatís not a lot of time to get as many Representatives as possible to tell the Bush administration it can't just ignore the massive human rights violations committed against the people of East Timor.

The letter calls on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Meeting, ongoing until April 24, to:

  • press for a formal, comprehensive UN review of the Indonesian court on East Timor, a sham process that has already acquitted eleven of fourteen Indonesians, among many other serious flaws;
  • push for an international ad hoc tribunal on East Timor as the best way to ensure real justice for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the East Timorese people.

The letter also urges Secretary of State Colin Powell to press the Indonesian government to extradite those suspects indicted by the joint East Timor-UN Serious Crimes Unit who reside in Indonesia, including senior Indonesian military personnel. More than 100 indicted suspects including the former head of the Indonesian military, Wiranto are in Indonesia, where the government has publicly vowed not to cooperate with the Serious Crimes process.

When calling Representativesí offices, please ask to speak to the foreign policy staffer. Please tell her/him that the letter deadline is April 8, and that they can sign on or get a copy of the letter by contacting Brian Vigue in Congressman Kennedyís office at 225-4911.

All offices can be reached through the Congressional switchboard number, 202-224-3121, or check for other contact info.

And thank you for your support! Together we make a difference.


Dear Secretary Powell:

In light of the 59th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), we write to you concerning justice for crimes against humanity committed against the people of East Timor. Alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide remain free in Indonesia, often in positions of power. The two judicial mechanisms in place to bring them to justice have largely failed.

The Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor is no more than a whitewash. The court has acquitted eleven of the fourteen Indonesian defendants prosecuted thus far. Even if the prosecution had met international standards, which it did not, the courtís limited mandate, failure to prosecute top officials, and numerous other significant shortcomings would have prevented delivery of meaningful justice. Indeed, the court failed to meet Indonesian standards; four out of five sentences imposed have been less than the legal minimum. It is therefore imperative that the U.S. delegation to the UNCHR press for a formal, comprehensive UN review of the Jakarta court process.

In East Timor, the UN Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) and Special Panels are handicapped by a lack of resources and by Indonesiaís refusal to extradite suspects. The Indonesian government and military have steadfastly refused to cooperate with the SCU.

It is essential that the U.S. government support an alternative that can achieve real justice. In early 2000, the U.S. administration said it would give Indonesia a chance to credibly prosecute its own for atrocities committed in East Timor. Indonesian authorities have squandered that opportunity. We thus urge the U.S. delegation to the UNHRC to push for an international ad hoc tribunal on East Timor as the only remaining option for real justice. The Commission members should seriously consider recommending the creation of an international court.

Finally, we urge you to utilize all bilateral and multilateral resources at your disposal to press the Indonesian government to extradite those suspects indicted by the SCU who reside in Indonesia, including senior Indonesian military personnel. The arrogant and dismissive responses thus far issued by Indonesian officials to the SCU indictments must be condemned and the extradition requests taken seriously.

We appreciate your administrationís demonstrated support for a successful East Timor, but peace and prosperity in the new nation depend on a thorough and honest accounting of the tragic past. The East Timorese people, victims of the most serious crimes by the Indonesian military and its militia proxies from 1975 to 1999, rightfully expect the United States and other members of the international community to hold accountable the murderers, rapists, and architects of terror in East Timor. Moreover, serious pursuit of justice for East Timor will enhance efforts to strengthen democracy and rule-of-law in Indonesia.

We thank you for your serious consideration and look forward to a prompt response.


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