||News Coverage Of Lumintang Lawsuit
The Independent - General
to be sued for East Timor war crimes
General to be sued for East Timor war
By Richard Lloyd Parry in Jakarta
A senior Indonesian general is being sued for crimes against humanity, after The Independent revealed a document implicating him in his army's murderous rampage in East Timor last September.
In the first concrete step towards legal redress for victims of last year's bloodshed, Major-General Johny Lumintang was served notice of the lawsuit late on Thursday as he stepped off a flight from Washington DC. The lawsuit has been brought by American human rights groups on behalf of three victims of the Indonesian military, which embarked on a two-week campaign of murder and destruction after East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia last year.
The complaint, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that General Lumintang, as the army's deputy chief of staff, "directed, planned, instigated, conspired, aided, abetted, incited and failed to prevent and/or is otherwise responsible for the campaign of crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights law ... in East Timor". The East Timorese plaintiffs are demanding damages for cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment including torture and a summary execution by troops acting under the general's authority.
The principal evidence cited in the complaint is a document published in The Independent in February, which was discovered by a local human rights group in a deserted military headquarters in the East Timorese capital, Dili. Dated 5 May, and signed by General Lumintang, the secret letter is addressed to Colonel Tono Suratman, the military commander in Dili, and copied to senior military figures. It consists of an order to implement "repressive/coercive measures" and a plan to "move to the rear/evacuate if the second option [independence] is chosen".
The plaintiffs in the case, who remain unidentified for fear of reprisals, are three East Timorese who were active in the struggle against Indonesian occupation. One is the mother of a man who died after being shot in his home. The second is a man whose foot had to be amputated after he was beaten up and shot by Indonesian soldiers. The third is a man whose brother was killed and father injured as they tried to hide from marauding soldiers and proIndonesian militiamen.
Major-General Lumintang is one of a number of senior Indonesian officers to have been trained in the United States under the Pentagon's International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. Yayasan Hak, the East Timorese organisation that uncovered the letter, also found a secret commando training manual, bearing the general's name, advising the use of terror, kidnapping and sabotage.
In January, a UN Commission of Inquiry and an Indonesian government investigation found that senior Indonesian officers orchestrated systematic human rights violations after the 30 August referendum, in which almost 80 per cent of Timorese voted for independence. A number of East Timorese militiamen are being held pending trials in Dili, but no charges have yet been brought against senior officers.
Six years ago, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the groups behind the current case, successfully sued another Indonesian general for his role in a massacre in Dili in 1991 in which as many as 270 people died. Major-General Sintong Panjaitan was ordered to pay $14m in damages to the mother of a New Zealand student who was killed, although none of the award has been paid.
Both cases are based on the US Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, which allows anyone to sue for acts committed outside the US "in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States". Even if the case is successful, it will not send General Lumintang to jail. But it may make visits to America more difficult for him and other officers implicated in the East Timor violence.
US lawyer confirms lawsuit against
WASHINGTON, March 31
A US lawyer on Friday confirmed her human rights' organization has served an Indonesian general notice for crimes against humanity in East Timor.
"We brought a complaint against General Johnny Lumintang, charging him with crimes against humanity for this repression against East Timorese," said attorney Jennie Green who signed the document.
Representatives of the Center for Constitutional Rights served Lumintang the complaint at Dulles International Airport outside Washington as he was perparing to leave the country, Green told AFP in a telephone interview.
The plaintiffs are three East Timorese: a mother whose young son was killed, a man who was beaten and shot in the foot which had to be amputated, and a third whose brother was killed and father injured in East Timor.
East Timor voted overwhelmingly to break away from Indonesia in August last year. But the results unleashed a wave of violence by angry pro-Jakarta militias backed by the Indonesian army which razed much of the territory to the ground.
The New York-based CCR and San Fransisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability said the plaintiffs wished to remain anonymous as East Timor remained subject to Indonesian military and militia attacks.
General Lumintang, who was Vice chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army at the time, is one of the most senior members of the Indonesian armed forces. He is now governor of Indonesia's prestigious military and political institution, the National Defence Institute (Lemhannas).
He was in Washington for a conference at the invitation of the US-Indonesian Society and was about to leave the country when CCR formally presented him with the charges.
"We served him as he was coming out of the gift shop Thursday afternoon at 5:12 p.m. (2212GMT). He looked at the papers, then he threw them to the ground," she continued.
Lumintang has until April 19 to respond to the charges of "torture, cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment, wrongful death, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress."
Or he could ignore the complaint and face the prospect of a default judgement, Green said.
In a past similar judgement, General Sintong Panjaitan who was served papers involving the November 1991 Dili massacre in East Timor, was fined four million dollars in compensatory damages and 10 million dollars in punitive damages.
Although Lumintang can ignore the notice, Green and other human rights groups believe the process itself is important.
"It's about accountability for what they've done," Green explained. "We hope there is a deterrent effect, that it prevents such violations from happening in the future."
A former member of the elite special forces, Lumintang was one of the officers who benefited from the International Military Education and Training (IMET), a controversial program put together by the Pentagon after the US Congress decided to suspend US-Indonesia military links.
John Miller of the East Timor Action Network told AFP the US suit was necessary because the United Nations had put an international tribunal regarding human rights abuses in East Timor on hold to allow the Indonesian justice system to work on the cases.
But, Miller claimed, Indonesia's Attorney General planned to focus his efforts on a handful of the best known incidents and a small number of Indonesian military commanders.
Hear Lawyer Jennie Green and Allan Nairn on Pacifica's Democracy Now
Story: INDONESIAN GENERAL SERVED WITH HUMAN RIGHTS LAWSUIT
Last night, as Indonesian General Johny Lumintang was passing through Dulles Airport in Washington, he was served with a lawsuit. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit against Lumintang for his role in devastating human rights abuses in East Timor. The suit was filed on behalf of a mother whose son was killed, a man who was beaten and shot and whose foot had to be amputated, and a man whose father was injured and brother killed.
The lawsuit also cites a June 1999 army manual, also signed by Lumintang, which states that Kopassus intelligence operatives were to be trained in propaganda, kidnapping, terror, agitation, sabotage, infiltration, undercover operations, wiretapping, photographic intelligence and psychological operations. Koppassus operatives were involved in the kidnapping of East Timorese independence activists prior to and after the independence vote.
Guests: Allan Nairn, journalist reporting from Asia. He just left Indonesia, once again defying a military ban against him entering the country.
Jennie Green, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. She filed the lawsuit against Lumintang. Call Center for Constitutional Rights: 212.614.6464.
US lawyers to sue Indonesian general over East Timor involvement
The World Today - Friday, March 31, 2000 12:46
COMPERE: An Indonesian General said to be at the heart of the orchestration of last year's devastation and death in East Timor is being personally sued in the United States for human rights abuses. General Johnny Lermantung [phonetic] was served with a District Court notice of the law suite as he was about to fly out of Washington after a short social visit there.
North America correspondent, Michael Carey, is speaking to Jenny Green, one of the lawyers involved:
JENNY GREEN: Today we served that legal complaint for human rights violations and crimes against humanity against Lieutenant General Johnny Lermantung of the Indonesian military in the Washington DC area.
MICHAEL CAREY: So what physically did that involve?
JENNY GREEN: What involved was presenting him with a copy of the charges against him, and we wound up getting him at the Dallas International Airport, at the gift shop outside the VIP lounge.
MICHAEL CAREY: So you actually had some servers go out there and grab him at the gift shop?
JENNY GREEN: That's correct. They presented him with the papers, and that starts the process at the United States Court.
MICHAEL CAREY: And what was he doing in the United States?
JENNY GREEN: He was actually - it seemed to be part of a public relations tour of sorts. He gave a presentation, talking about reform in the Indonesian military. We received some word, you know, that he was going about town meeting with different US Government officials. You know, we took the opportunity to bring a law suite against him on behalf of victims of the human rights violations which were the result of his policies in East Timor.
MICHAEL CAREY: When you say on behalf of victims, whose cases are you actually operating here?
JENNY GREEN: Well, this case is on behalf of five individuals. Well, actually some of them are no longer alive because they were killed because of their political activities in East Timor. The killings and the attacks, which included beatings and shootings of people, were part of a policy of targeting activists who supported political independence in East Timor in September 1999.
MICHAEL CAREY: And what responsibility do you claim that General Lermantung had for what happened in East Timor after the plebocide?
JENNY GREEN: The specific responsibilities that we had, the information that we have is that he was part of planning the policy of targeting activists and targeting supporters of independence. There was a telegram which went out in - that he signed on 5 May, 1999 which said, "Be prepared to take repressive measures after the ballot if the decision is, in fact, in favour of independence."
MICHAEL CAREY: And what are you seeking here, what sort of redress?
JENNY GREEN: What we're seeking is - in the United States you can claim, you know, both compensatory and punitive monetary damages, so we're seeking a monetary award which will punish him for his activities and hopefully deter other people from the same types of human rights violations. We can also seek other types of relief from the court, a statement of condemnation, you know, that this person is not a member of the reformist military but, in fact, is part of the very act of repression against East Timorese activists.
COMPERE: Jenny Green is a lawyer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights in Washington. She was speaking with Michael Carey.