|Indonesia, Clinton Urged to Help Timor Refugees, Rights Investigations
12 Nov 1999 - For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller; (718)596-7668; (516)317-6257 (mobile) Karen Orenstein; (202)544-6911
East Timor Action Network Urges Indonesia's President to Fulfill Commitments to East Timor by Stopping Militia Violence, Assisting Return of Refugees and Cooperating with Rights Investigations
Clinton Must Keep Military Assistance Suspension, Release Rights Data
November 11-- The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today urged Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to respect East Timor's independence vote by stopping militia violence and assisting in the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees forcibly removed from East Timor. ETAN also stressed that Indonesia must cooperate with ongoing international human rights investigations.
On the eve of the first meeting between President Clinton and the new Indonesian leader, ETAN believes it is imperative that the Clinton administration maintain its suspension of assistance to the Indonesian military because the military and its militias remain a threat not only to East Timor but Indonesian democracy as well.
"President Wahid says that he wants good relations with neighboring East Timor. If he is sincere, he should clamp down on the Indonesian military and its militias, which continue to threaten East Timorese forcibly removed to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia and the U.N. personnel working to repatriate them," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for the East Timor Action Network.
"Indonesia may have renounced its claim to East Timor, but the military-backed militias continue to threaten East Timorese both inside and outside the territory," said Miller. "Those responsible for the destruction of East Timor must be held accountable, but Indonesia refuses to cooperate with the UN's investigation of human rights abuses," said Miller.
President Wahid is scheduled to meet President Clinton on Friday, November 12, the anniversary of the well-known 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in which over 270 East Timorese were killed while attending a peaceful demonstration.
The East Timor Action Network will hold a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. at the Embassy of Indonesia, 2020 Massachusetts Ave., NW in Washington, DC to commemorate the victims of that massacre and the victims of more recent violence by the Indonesian armed forces and their militias after the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence.
"A thorough international investigation of the human rights violations committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor would advance the rights of the rights of both East Timorese and Indonesians. Identifying and prosecuting those responsible will help Indonesia's nascent democracy bring its military under civilian control," Miller said.
"The ban on U.S. military assistance must remain in place until there are fundamental changes to the Indonesian military, including an end to abuses of rights in Indonesia itself," he added.
On September 9, President Clinton announced the suspension of military assistance to Indonesia after the Indonesian military and their militias began their scorched earth campaign in East Timor following an overwhelming pro-independence vote.
Over 200,000 East Timorese remain in Indonesia, most against their will. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has repeatedly protested militia interference with efforts to repatriate refugees, saying Indonesian police and military have done nothing to deter such intimidation. Komnas HAM, Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, recently reported that militia groups in West Timor have committed "systematic and organized human rights violations," including forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and violence against women. Indonesian security forces "let these things continue," Komnas HAM said.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. was founded in November 1991, following the Santa Cruz massacre in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor. ETAN has 27 local chapters across the country.