Subject: Australian Reparations for East Timor unlikely

Also: Aust should aid E Timor trials: IJC;

Reparations for East Timor unlikely

By Jewel Topsfield

January 20, 2006

AUSTRALIA is unlikely to pay reparations to East Timor for providing military assistance to Jakarta during its 24-year Indonesian occupation, despite the recommendations of a damning United Nations report.

It is also not expected to call for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities which led to the deaths of more than 180,000 East Timorese civilians between 1975 and 1999.

The 2500-page report, to be handed by East Timor President Xanana Gusmao to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today, blames Indonesia for the deaths of 180,000 civilians.

Indonesian security forces consciously decided to use the starvation of East Timorese civilians as a weapon of war, using napalm and chemical weapons to poison the food and water supply, according to the report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

The report, which has been leaked to newspapers, recommends reparations from nations that provided military assistance to Jakarta during the occupation, including Australia.

The East Timorese administration has not advocated new prosecutions of those behind the atrocities.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian Government was yet to receive a copy of the report and was unable to comment on it.

"We note, however, that President Gusmao and Foreign Minister (Jose) Ramos Horta have publicly expressed reservations over many of its recommendations (including reparations)," a spokesman said.

"Foreign Minister Ramos Horta rejected that idea, emphasising the enormous generosity and goodwill of the international community since 1999 and recognised Australia's instrumental role in Interfet."

The UN report was submitted to President Gusmao last year but he has not released it because of concerns about relations with Indonesia.

Indonesian State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said yesterday East Timor and Indonesia had agreed to work for reconciliation. "Therefore, there is no need to look at the past because it won't help … better to look at the future."




January 19, 2006

Aust should aid E Timor trials: IJC

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) says Australia should help fund a war crimes tribunal to investigate human rights abuses committed during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

Leaked copies of a report by East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation claim as many as 180,000 East Timorese died under Indonesian rule.

The report is expected to be handed to the United Nations (UN) this week.

East Timor's ambassador to the United Nations says his country is unlikely to seek the prosecution of Indonesian military officers accused of the abuses.

But ICJ spokesman John Dowd says the UN should oversee a tribunal to investigate the deaths and Australia should help fund it.

"If we trained Indonesian soldiers, and I've met the Indonesian soldiers in East Timor when I went there for the referendum, these people should be brought to account," he said.

"They were trained by Australians. Australia has an obligation to see that a war crimes tribunal occurs."

Labor's Jenny Macklin says East Timor should look to the future.

"The important issue for East Timor is to look ahead," she said.

"Really do everything possible to enhance development and opportunities for people in East Timor."

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