East Timor NGO Forum Press Release
Expression of Concern at Xanana’s Statement Regarding an
23 April 2001
The NGO Forum is very concerned by National Council of Timorese
Resistance (CNRT) President Xanana Gusmao’s recent comment, as quoted in
Suara Timor Lorosa’e on 23 April 2001, that an International Tribunal is
not a priority for East Timor. If he has been quoted correctly, the NGO
Forum considers this to be a political statement of an East Timorese
politician, since it is unlikely that the families of the victims of
violence of Indonesian crimes in East Timor, particularly the families of
those murdered by the Indonesian military, would concur with him.
In our view Xanana’s assertion on this matter misses the mark
entirely, given that the courts both in Indonesia and Dili, in their
investigations into instances of crimes perpetuated by the Indonesian
military in East Timor, have so far failed to satisfy the victims’
families demands for justice.
The NGO Forum regards an International Tribunal as an option that needs
to be seriously considered given that to date Indonesia has not made any
progress in investigating human rights offences committed by the
Indonesian military in East Timor. As Suara Timor Lorosa’e noted in its
21 April edition, we have yet to see an Indonesian general, Probowo
Subianto among them, confess to Xanana in a court of justice, whether in
Indonesia or at an International Tribunal, their probable involvement in
cases of human rights offences in East Timor.
We believe that anyone is entitled to offer comment on the prosecution
of war crimes cases in East Timor, provided such comments accord with the
wishes of the families of the victims of these war crimes, so as not to
reopen the wounds of the families concerned.
“If an international court is not a priority for resolving war crimes
cases in East Timor, what other court is able to ensure that the war
criminals concerned do not just walk free?” asked Arsenio Bano,
Executive Director of the NGO Forum, adding that future improvements in
East Timor-Indonesia relations depend inter alia on how Indonesia
completes its investigations into the war crimes it perpetuated in East
Timor, together with its willingness to assist in the return from
Indonesia of East Timorese refugees.
For further information, please contact: +61/418 200 697 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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