|Subject: IHRC-NZ: Letter to Helen Clark
Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.
28 April, 2002
Dear Helen Clark,
We understand that you will shortly be making an official visit to Indonesia. We urge that during this visit you take the opportunity to press for an internationally just accountability for the war criminals responsible for the deliberate devastation of East Timor .
You will be meeting with President Megawati Sukarnoputri who late last year in an address to troops in Jakarta said that the military should do 'their duty' without 'worrying about being involved in human rights abuses.' This comment underlines our grave concerns about escalating militarisation and the human rights abuses which are causing untold suffering in many areas of Indonesia.
Under international pressure the Indonesian government has set up an ad hoc Human Rights Court to hear the case against 18 people charged over four murderous militia rampages in East Timor in 1999.
However, the trials seem to be turning into a charade, with inexperienced judges, the absence of clear standards about evidence and an intimidatory presence of military top brass at the March trial hearings. The trials make no pretence of laying overall blame for the systematic campaign of terror in East Timor in 1999, let alone for the brutal 24 year Indonesian occupation of East Timor.
Moreover it is becoming clear that those on trial are not the key perpetrators of the violence. Documents recently leaked from the Australian Defence Signals Directorate clearly identify several Generals as planning and directing the militia rampages and the forced deportation of a third of the population. The transcripts pinpoint the key role of General Feisal Tanjung, at the time President Habibie's co-ordinating minister for politics and security and his colleague Hendropriyono. General Hendripriyono is now the head of the new National Intelligence Body, while General Syafrie Sjamsuddin who was working with the militias on the ground in East Timor is now spokesperson for the Indonesian military.
Brigadier-General Mahidin Simbolon chief of staff for the command which controlled East Timor worked closely with notorious militia leaders such as Cancio de Carvalho and Eurico Guterres. He is now in command in West Papua.
The people of Aceh live with constant terror and almost daily reports of civilians being assassinated. It is estimated that there are 60,000 troops in the province and a new military command inaugurated in February has raised new fears among the population. It is not surprising that the people want freedom from Indonesia, especially as most live in poverty and the rich oil and gas resources of the province are exploited by transnational Exxon Mobil and a small wealthy elite.
The peace process in Aceh sponsored by the Henri Dunant Centre may offer a glimmer of hope, but Indonesia's past imprisonment of Free Aceh Movement negotiators and the killing of negotiator Teungku Zulfani suggests that Indonesia has not given up the military 'solution'.
We also learn from the Human Rights Institute, Elsham, that the situation in West Papua is now very grave. We have been told of the establishment of 'red-white' militia (Satgas Merah-Putih) gangs by Indonesian military in West Papua. General Hendripriyono and the State Intelligence Institute are is understood to have authorised the establishment of 'red- white' militia in each of the twelve regencies. There are reports of militia recruitment in both Wamena and also Biak - both sites of recent conflict and military abuses.
West Papuan leaders who recently met with European ambassadors and with Amnesty International representatives have been intimidated and in one case tortured by the security forces.
As you know the Indonesia Human Rights Committee strongly supports the international campaign calling for a United Nations Review of the 1969 Act of Free Choice in West Papua. We are waiting a reply to our letter to you dated March 23, appealing for the New Zealand government to back this new campaign. We believe that there are very strong grounds for undertaking this Review, including the recent statements from Chakravarthy Narasimhan - a senior UN official who helped to organise the hand over to Indonesia. He said of the Act of Free Choice: "It was a whitewash. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that there were a million people there who had their fundamental human rights trampled. Suharto was a terrible dictator. How could anyone have seriously believed that all voters unanimously decided to join his regime" We look forward to hearing confirmation that New Zealand will back the Review campaign. We also look forward to hearing news of your strong human rights representations in Jakarta and insistence on a true accountability for the genocide and destruction that took place in East Timor.
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