etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer Also: Letter in International Herald Tribune (Neuilly-sur-Seine, France), August 23, 2000; East Timor needs help to rebuild, Times, London, August 30, 2000

The New York Times 
September 1, 2000, Friday, Late Edition - Final

Justice in East Timor

To the Editor:

Re "Indonesians Differ on Penalties for the Past" (news article, Aug. 27): Forceful prosecutions of those who committed rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor are necessary if Indonesia is to build a democratic future. Elements of the Indonesian military continue to create mischief -- for example, by backing militias that harass East Timor and block the return of refugees.

An international tribunal should be set up to deal with crimes against the East Timorese since 1975, when Indonesia illegally invaded its neighbor. Last January, a United Nations investigation recommended a tribunal for military and militia violence during last year's independence plebiscite. Creating a tribunal is especially urgent now that Indonesia's consultative assembly has amended the Constitution to let the abusers off the hook, crippling its own prosecutors' ability to try past injustices.

Brooklyn, Aug. 27, 2000

The writer is media coordinator for the East Timor Action Network.


from: International Herald Tribune (Neuilly-sur-Seine, France)
August 23, 2000, Wednesday Opinion; Pg. 9

Justice for Indonesia

Regarding ''In Indonesia, Safeguards for Military Over Rights Abuses'' (Aug. 19): Indonesia's Parliament has turned its back on its own government's pledges to bring to justice those responsible for the violence and destruction during last year's vote in East Timor.

The passage of a constitutional amendment foreclosing prosecution for past human rights abuses is a near fatal blow to efforts to hold the Indonesian military accountable for past crimes. In January, a UN investigation recommended an international tribunal. An international tribunal could guarantee several things that Indonesia cannot: first, that victims of military and militia violence in East Timor will have their day in court. Even without the recent legislative maneuvers, many East Timorese were fearful of traveling to Indonesia to testify. A tribunal will also punish the guilty. President Abdurrahman Wahid has already pledged to pardon General Wiranto, the former armed forces commander who failed to control his troops.

The Indonesian military's abuses of human rights rise to the level of crimes against humanity. They were central to a systematic effort to undermine an internationally sanctioned plebiscite. For that reason the United Nations has a special obligation to prosecute. Indonesian prosecutors should be invited to join the effort, but it is international law, not the shell of Indonesian law, that must apply.

JOHN M. MILLER. Brooklyn, New York.
The writer is media coordinator for the East Timor Action Network/U.S.

The Times [London] August 30 2000


East Timor needs help to rebuild
From the Director of Oxfam and others

Sir, On August 30 a year ago, the people of East Timor defied the intimidation and violence of militias and Indonesian soldiers and voted for independence.

East Timor is now a nation in its own right but it has paid a high price. Weeks of violence both before and after the ballot effectively destroyed the territory's infrastructure and crippled its economy. A year later there is peace and the United Nations has established a transitional administration (UNTAET), but the violence of the past still overshadows the country's development.

More than 130,000 East Timorese remain in refugee camps in West Timor. The international community must, as a matter of priority, work with the Indonesian Government and the East Timor authorities to ensure that the camps are demilitarised, and that those who wish to return can do so in safety. The international com- munity must also ensure support for any effort undertaken by Indonesia's Government to provide safety for those who chose to stay in Indonesia.

Rebuilding a country requires generous funding by donors and the United Nations. Pledges made by donor countries to UNTAET trust funds should be honoured. Also the perpetrators of war crimes must be brought to justice according to inter- national standards.

Ultimately East Timor's future lies in the hands of the people who fought so hard for its independence. The international community, donors and aid agencies must work with local people to safeguard the future of the world's newest democracy.

Yours faithfully, 
DAVID BRYER, Director, Oxfam, 
JULIAN FILOCHOWSKI, Director, Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, 
IAN LINDEN, Director, Catholic Institute for International Relations, 
c/o Oxfam, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ. 
August 30, 2000


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