Subject: Jakarta Post: Rights body to summon top brass

Jakarta Post November 22, 1999

Rights body to summon top brass

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's top military brass will be summoned by a human rights commission for clarification over murders and destruction in East Timor, which followed the Sept. 4 announcement of an overwhelming vote in favor of independence.

After returning on Sunday from a visit to West Timor, the chairman of the Commission for the Investigation of Human Rights Abuses in East Timor, Albert Hasibuan, told The Jakarta Post that former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Wiranto was included in the list of people to be questioned.

"We will also summon other military officers allegedly associated with the bloodshed in East Timor, such as Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, who according to a witness, was seen at the scene when Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo's residence was attacked by militias," Albert said.

He said other senior officers included an advisor to the TNI chief, Maj. Gen. Zaky Anwar Makarim, and the former regional commander overseeing East Timor, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri.

"After our latest visit to West Timor, we found many indications of a close association between the Indonesian Military and militia in the mass destruction and murder in East Timor," Albert said.

He described the destruction in East Timor after the announcement of the ballot results in early September as a form of systematic terror perpetrated by the militia with the help of TNI personnel.

"Almost all office buildings and between 60 to 70 percent of houses were destroyed.

"It is only fair that Wiranto as the highest military commander at the time would be held responsible, at least for his apparent inaction to try to stop the bloodshed in East Timor, especially in Dili.

"We will seek a meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid to formally report our findings and to ask for his permission to summon Wiranto, now coordinating minister for political affairs and security," Albert said.

"We have a long list of people to be questioned, including many military personnel, civil officials and militia leaders," he said, adding that the former police chief in East Timor, Col. Timbul Silaen, was among those who would be queried.

The nine-member commission was formed in September by the Habibie government as an independent body fully authorized to conduct investigations into human rights abuses in East Timor.

The government, which rejected the United Nations inquiry of human rights abuses in East Timor, gave the commission subpoena powers to carry out its task.

During the commission's four-day visit to West Timor, the team held meetings with Bishop Belo, commander of the International Force for East Timor (Interfet) Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove, non-governmental organizations, East Timorese leaders and many eyewitnesses.

The commission, which was given three months to complete its task, has so far made four visits to West Timor and one to East Timor.

"We will send more teams to West and East Timor to gather more evidence," Albert said.

During its latest visit, the team interviewed several witnesses, especially in Suai. One of the witnesses was a militia commander named Johnny Marques, who was held in custody by Interfet.

Albert quoted Johnny as saying that he had been threatened by several TNI personnel to carry out the destruction in Los Palos.

Bishop Belo told the commission team that the exodus of refugees from East Timor to West Timor was set off by threats from TNI personnel.

Belo also said that the former TNI chief Gen. Wiranto should be held responsible for the East Timor bloodshed.


Meanwhile, the United States urged Indonesia on Sunday to ensure that individuals guilty of past rights abuses were brought to justice to help the country on its path to democracy.

Washington's Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke called on all parties in Indonesian politics to support the state human rights commission's efforts to uncover past abuses.

"The human rights commission has put forward some proposals ... which are not being fully supported by everyone else in the political system," Holbrooke was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"You cannot deal with the future unless you come to terms with the past," Holbrooke said at the end of a brief visit to Jakarta, during which he met new President Abdurrahman Wahid and other leaders.

"We would hope, again without interfering in the internal affairs of a great nation,... that the Indonesian parliament will move to put into place a system of full accountability."

A separate United Nations investigation is underway into allegations of abuses in East Timor by pro-Jakarta militias and Indonesian security forces after the territory voted in August to split from Indonesia after more than 23 years of rule. (02)

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