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10 Years After Timor's Independence, Where Is the Justice?

Contact: John M. Miller,

May 16, 2012 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) congratulated the people of Timor-Leste as they prepared to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the restoration of their country's independence on May 20.

"This important milestone is the result of the persistent struggle and great suffering of the people of Timor-Leste," said ETAN's National Coordinator John M. Miller. "ETAN is proud to have played our part in supporting Timor's self-determination and now independence."

"The nation faces many challenges. With independence, its people are in a position to decide its future rather then have Indonesia impose its will on them," he added.

Timor's independence was prevented for nearly 25 years by the U.S. and other governments' support for Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation. Yet, no senior officials of any country have been held accountable for the horrific human right violations and war crimes that took place.


The F-FDTL should not arbitrarily take on the role of the police, and this role should never include threats to take extrajudicial actions which violate fundamental human rights,

"The U.S., other governments and the United Nations must commit themselves to achieve justice for the victims and their families." said Miller. "ETAN will not rest until justice is done."

"Human rights violators from elsewhere have been prosecuted, often long after their crimes were committed. But Indonesia and others continue to obstruct holding accountable those who facilitated and carried out crimes during the occupation," he added.

Ongoing impunity for the systematic Indonesian military and police crimes prevents the people of Timor-Leste and Indonesia from consolidating their democracies and moving on with their lives. While Timor-Leste is now independent, its people will not be able to overcome their tragic past without justice for what was done to them and their families, said Miller.
Neither Congress nor the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have responded to the recommendations of Timor-Leste's Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, although many of them are directly addressed to the U.S. and other governments. These include the Commission's call for an international tribunal to try perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the Indonesian occupation, reparations from Indonesia and other countries that supported the occupation, and restrictions on foreign assistance to the Indonesian military.

"The U.S. and others should press President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately release all information that can help identify and locate those who were disappeared during the occupation, said Miller.

The recent conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for his support of rights violators in Sierra Leone should sound a note of caution for members of the Obama and former US administrations. This ruling provides a precedent for prosecuting those who arm, train and politically support those who commit the worst abuses, even if they do not directly organize or carry them out.

"The Obama administration should restrict U.S. military assistance to Indonesia until the Indonesian generals and political leaders who organized and directed numerous crimes against humanity during the 24-years of illegal occupation are credibly tried," Miller added. Instead, the Obama administration is considering the sale of deadly Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military.


As detailed in declassified documents released by the National Security Archive and elsewhere, on December 6, 1975, then-U.S. President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger gave Indonesian dictator Suharto a green light to invade East Timor, which his military did the next day. The U.S. supplied 90 percent of the weapons used during the invasion. From Ford to President Clinton, successive U.S. administrations consistently backed Indonesia's occupation, providing Jakarta diplomatic cover and billions of dollars in weaponry, military training, and economic assistance.

During more than two decades of occupation of Timor-Leste, Indonesian soldiers committed serious crimes with impunity, taking as many as 184,000 Timorese lives and torturing, raping and displacing countless others. Timor-Leste became independent in 2002.

Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation researched and documented the nation's experiences during the occupation. The Commission's comprehensive 2,500-page report recommended establishment of an international criminal tribunal and also advocated that countries (including the U.S.) which backed the occupation and corporations which sold weapons to Indonesia during that period should pay reparations to victims. The Commission urged the international community not to support Indonesia's military until it was thoroughly reformed and respectful of human rights.

Last year, ANTI (Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal) demanded that the United Nations Security Council "cut the chain of impunity in Timor-Leste and other countries by establishing a credible International Tribunal in order to judge the principal perpetrators of serious crimes and crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste during the Indonesian occupation."


The UN-supported serious crimes process filed a number of indictments of a number of Indonesian officials and East Timorese militia leaders for crimes against humanity committed during the referendum on independence in 1999.

ETAN was formed in reaction to the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, when hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were gunned down by Indonesian troops carrying U.S.-supplied weapons On May 20, ETAN members will be honored by the Timorese government with the Laran Luak medal for its contribution to the liberation of Timor-Leste. The U.S.-based organization, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information see ETAN's web site:


  (see full article below).

Police officials have made similar threats (see for example ), and prominent politicians have called on the police not to hesitate to arrest people who use strong language.

While there have been a few worrying examples of violence against property during the Presidential campaign, police or soldiers should not summarily punish perceived lawbreakers. Everyone accused of a crime has a right to a fair trial.

After suffering 24 years of illegal Indonesian occupation, Timor-Leste is struggling to create a government and society based on the rule of law, which respects fundamental human rights. These rights, as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, include the right not to "be arbitrarily deprived of his life." (Article 6) The Covenant also protects free expression (Article 19) and bars arbitrary punishment and detention without charge (Article 9).

Major General Lere Anan TimurTimor-Leste ratified the covenant and other key human rights treaties soon after independence in 2002. Timor-Leste's constitution establishes a "State based on the rule of law, the will of the people and the respect for the dignity of the human person" (Section 1) and integrates approved international conventions into domestic law (Section 9), as well as guaranteeing freedom of speech (Section 40).

Commander Lere's comments on election security were especially inappropriate because the internal security role of the military is limited.  Under Timor-Leste's constitution (Section 146), military forces are to defend against external threats or aggression, and are involved in domestic security only when the police request backup in an emergency or when the President has declared a state of siege or emergency. 

The F-FDTL should not arbitrarily take on the role of the police, and this role should never include threats to take extrajudicial actions which violate fundamental human rights, like those recently made by the F-FDTL commander.

Fundasaun Mahein recently wrote "There is currently no directive from the Ministry of Defence and Security outlining the function of the F-FDTL in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections."

The organization also urged Timor-Leste's security forces not to "take the law into their own hands by applying the system of shoot first, ask later." The military and police are supposed "to protect and serve the community and to uphold the rule of law."

ETAN was formed in 1991. ETAN will be monitoring Timor-Leste's upcoming Parliamentary election and has been present at every Timor election since the 1999 vote on independence. ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN's web site:; Twitter: @etan009

* This quote in the article is translated from the original Tetum. As reported by the Independente newspaper, Lere said "Atu garante eleisaun la'o di'ak, atu dehan ba se de'it maka halo krimi nia tenki simu konsekuensia tama kumarka, ou selai baisa iha ospital ka tiru mate no nia fatin maka iha rate."

see also Join ETAN in observing Timor-Leste's 2012 Parliamentary elections

Jenerál Timor nia Ameasa kona-ba Eleisaun bele Estraga Estadu de Direitu Demokrátiku

Kontaktu: John M. Miller +1-917-690-4391,

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network/Rede Asaun ba Timor-Leste no Indonesia (ETAN) preokupa ba ameasa militár atu tiru mate ema ne'ebé distúrbiu prosesu eleitorál iha Timor-Leste.

Rede Solidariedade ne'ebé bazeia iha Estadu Unidus kondena deklarasaun públiku iha semana kotuk hosi Major Jenerál Lere Anan Timur, komandante militár Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), katak “Atu garante eleisaun la'o di'ak, atu dehan ba se de'it maka halo krime nia tenke simu konsekuénsia tama komarka, ou se lae baisa iha ospitál ka tiru mate no nia fatin maka iha rate." Jenerál Lere fó sai deklarasaun ne'e iha abertura kuartél jerál defeza foun iha 3 Abríl.

Ofisiais polísia mós halo ameasa ne'ebé hanesan (ba ezemplu hare, no polítiku na'in ne'ebé proeminente husu ona ba polísia atu lalika duvida hodi kaptura ema sira ne'ebé uza linguajen maka'as. ( )

Maske iha ezemplu balu hosi violénsia kontra propriedade ne'ebé hamosu preokupasaun durante kampańa eleitorál, polísia no soldadu sira labele fó pena arbiru ba ema ne'ebé sira sente katak viola lei. Ema hotu-hotu ne'ebé akuzadu hosi krime ruma iha direitu ba prosesu tribunal ne'ebé justu.

Hafoin sofrementu durante tinan 24 hosi okupasaun ilegál Indonézia, daudauk ne'e Timor-Leste luta ba kria governu no sosiedade ida ne'ebé bazeia ba estadu de direitu, ne'ebé respeita direitu umanus fundamental. Direitu sira ne'e, garantia ona iha Konvensaun Internasionál ba Direitu Sivíl no Polítika, inklui direitu atu labele “hadau ema nia moris tuir gostu” (Artigu 6). Konvensaun ne'e mós proteje liberdade ba espresaun (Artigu 19) no kontra pena arbiru no detensaun sein akuzasaun legal (Artigu 9). .

Timor-Leste ratifika ona konvensaun no tratadu xave seluk ba direitu umanus lalais liu hafoin independénsia iha 2002. Konstituisaun RDTL estabelese “Estadu ida-ne'ebé demokrátiku, soberanu,

ukun-an no ida-mesak, harii hosi povu nia hakarak no iha respeitu ba dignidade ema moris ida-idak nian Artigu 1). No integra konvensaun internasionál sira ne'ebé aprova ne'e iha lei doméstiku (Artigu 9), nune'e mós garantia liberdade atu ko'alia sai (Artigu 40).

Komentáriu komandante Lere nian kona-ba seguransa eleisaun espesialmente la apropriadu tanba knar ba seguransa internal hosi militár ne'e limitadu. Tuir Konstituisaun RDTL (Artigu 146), Forsas armada atu defende ameasa ka agresaun eksterna, no sira sei involve ba seguransa rai-laran bainhira de'it PNTL husu atu ajuda iha tempu emerjénsia ruma ka bainhira Prezidente deklara estadu de sítiu ka emerjénsia. F-FDTL labele ho arbiru foti knar polísia nian, no knar ida ne'e labele inklui ameasa atu hetan asaun ekstrajudisiál ne'ebé viola direitus umanus fundamental, hanesan daudauk ne'e komandante F-FDTL halo.  

Fundasaun Mahein daudauk ne'e hakerek “la iha diretiva ruma ne'ebé konstitui F-FDTL nia papél iha eleisaun prezidensial no parlamentár husi Ministériu Defeza no Seguransa.”

Organizasaun ne'e mós husu “ita nian forsas seguransas sira labele tau lei iha sira nian liman ho sistema ida tiru uluk depois mak husu ikus. … PNTL no F-FDTL nian Knaar mak tenke defende lei no proteje i serve komunidade.”

ETAN ne'e harii iha 1991. ETAN sei monitoriza eleisaun Parlamentár Timor-Leste oin mai, no monitoriza eleisaun nasionál hotu iha Timór-Leste dezde votasaun ba independénsia iha 1999. ETAN halo advokasia ba demokrasia, justisa no direitus umanus ba Timor-Leste no Indonézia. Hare ETAN nia website:; Twitter: @etan009

Translated from Tetun 
from April 4, 2012  Independente newspaper
by ETAN:

Major General Lere Threatens to Shoot Criminals Dead
Supporters of Presidential Candidates Continue to Provoke Each Other

By Eugenio Pereira

Dili: The Commander of the FALINTIL Defense Force of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL): Major General Lere Anan Timur threatened loudly to shoot to kill people who damage the presidential and parliamentary elections this year.

He challenged that any person or group who dares to start conflicts relating to the presidential and parliamentary election would face consequence of death or hospitalization.

"To ensure that the elections run well, I say to anyone who would carry out a crime that they must accept the consequence of being jailed or if not jailed, will be put in the hospital or shot to death and their place will be in the cemetery," Lere informed journalists at the F-FDTL Headquarters, Fatuhada, Dili on Tuesday, yesterday [3 April 2012].

Lere spoke in strong language to address public rumors that have emerged between candidates for President of the Republic Taur and Lu-Olo that if one loses, violence will occur.

Major Lere Anan Timur said, F-FDTL and PNTL will not tolerate those people who creates violence through force.

In this way, Lere continues share thoughts to people and youth so that they can better strengthen the peace so that the general election process can run more smoothly.

Lere said that he believes strongly what the candidates Taur and Lu-Olo have promoted: that between the two of them, no matter who wins or loses, they will both work to continue their contribution to stability and peace.

While the Commander of F-FDTL strongly threatened to shoot to kill, at the same time, supporters of the two candidates continue to provoke one another which could lead to a situation of anarchy, house burnings and the damaging of cars.

There was a house burning incident that happened in aldeia Halimean, suco Ahik, Dilor, Lacluta, District Manatuto.

Some people burned the house of the Vice Coordinator of Taur Matan Ruak's electoral success team, Pascoal Martins (47) in Dilor.

This incident happened in the middle of the night at 1am on March 31 this year.

According to a communication the INDEPENDENTE received yesterday Tuesday from the success team of Taur Matan Ruak, as soon as the incident happened, the national police in Dilor captured the criminals.

A similar case happened on April 2 when the vice coordinator of Taur Matan Ruak's victory team was attacked by supporters of the other candidate in the area of Afatakai (suco Buruma, subdistrict Baucau).

Bere Du'u, Vice Coordinator of Taur Matan Ruak's success team, was attacked between 6:30 and 7:00 at night when his convoy team went through a road of supporters of the other candidate (near Mr. Francisco).

Ximenes alias "Chico Koko Took" has a house in front of the incident and got it on film.

Supporters of the other candidate made the assault on a (green) Prado car of Vice Coordinator Bere Du'u and shattered one of the side mirrors. People in the area brought machetes to try to slash Vice Bere Du'u.

With this, the Victory Team for Taur Matan Ruak at the national level contacted immediately the President of CNE to inform him of the situation and to ask for help to take measures about the incident. The President of CNE, within minutes, telephoned the Victory Team to tell them that he had called PNTL Baucau and appealed to the other candidate to pay attention to this situation. PNTL did take measures, intervened and captured three people and brought them into confinement in a cell in Baucau. At this time the investigation process is still under way for the three suspects to know their motive in this attack. With this occurrence, candidate Taur Matan Ruak is distressed with the criminal attitude that would attack and intimidate against his supporters.

Taur made a strong appeal to all people to support a smooth running, peaceful, calm process without violence for this second round of campaigns. There must be respect for all candidates, mutual respect, respect for the rules and laws that orient the whole process.

He asked people not to believe rumors or gossip and not to give in to intimidation or violence, respond to provocations, but instead to put strong trust in the state authorities.



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