Subject: AU: Jakarta stops visit on Timor atrocities

The Australian

Jakarta stops visit on Timor atrocities Sian Powell, Jakarta correspondent 26jan06

RELATIONS between Indonesia and East Timor have soured, with Jakarta cancelling President Xanana Gusmao's visit to deliver a report alleging Indonesian crimes against humanity.

Mr Gusmao had planned to deliver the 2500-page report to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tomorrow on his way home from the UN in New York.

But Jakarta blocked the visit yesterday, highlighting a potentially damaging breakdown in relations with East Timor, following publicity on the report's trenchant criticism of Indonesia.

A spokesman for Dr Yudhoyono denied that Mr Gusmao's visit was cancelled because of the report's damaging accusations that Indonesia, and especially its military, was guilty of appalling atrocities during its 24-year occupation of East Timor.

Mr Gusmao, a former resistance hero, has tried to dampen the report's impact, delaying its public release and declaring Indonesia should not pay the reparations it recommends and that Indonesians should not be prosecuted for war crimes.

East Timor's ambassador to Jakarta, Arlindo Marcal, said Indonesia had taken issue with the internationally funded Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report.

"There are many, many points, many issues on which they don't agree," he said.

"I have the view that we are in a difficult situation. I think that relations have been hurt. But I don't think relations have been permanently damaged."

Dr Yudhoyono's spokesman, Dino Patti Djalal, said the delay in the meeting between the two leaders was because domestic pressures that required close attention had arisen. "There will be a meeting, but it's just a matter of working out when," he said.

Both Mr Gusmao and Dr Yudhoyono feature in the report.

Mr Gusmao was interviewed as a leader of the resistance during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor, and Dr Yudhoyono is listed as a military commander of a battalion in East Timor in the 1980s. The report has yet to be formally released, but it was obtained by The Australian a fortnight ago.

It notes that aircraft supplied by the West, including the US, were used against East Timorese civilians, and concludes that the Indonesian military probably killed five journalists, including two Australians, at Balibo in 1975.

Reports that the Indonesian military used rape and starvation as weapons of war, and the report's central claim that as many as 180,000 East Timorese died as a result of the Indonesian invasion and occupation, have been denied by Indonesia.

Mr Gusmao had intended to present Dr Yudhoyono with a copy of the report on his way back to East Timor from the US, where he gave a copy to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week.

Based on interviews with almost 8000 witnesses from East Timor, and statements from refugees in West Timor, the report also relies on Indonesian military papers and intelligence from international sources.

It documents a litany of massacres, thousands of summary executions of civilians, and the torture of 8500 East Timorese - with horrific details of public beheadings, the mutilation of genitalia, the burying and burning alive of victims, the lopping-off of ears and genitals to display to families and the use of cigarettes to burn victims.

The military violence in East Timor culminated in the 1999 reprisals for the independence vote, when the Indonesian military and its militia proxies rampaged through East Timor, killing as many as 1500 East Timorese and destroying most towns.

A culture of impunity prevailed, and "widespread and systematic executions, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual slavery was officially accepted by Indonesia", the commission found.

Indonesia has yet to punish those responsible for the violence. Of 18 defendants tried by an adhoc tribunal in Jakarta, only one has yet to be exonerated, and he is free, pending an appeal.

The Australian

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